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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Warriors Honored By Jocko Valley And Rez Community
by BL Azure - Char-Koosta News
The Warriors were lauded by the Jocko Valley and Flathead Reservation community for their athleticism and anti-suicide stance.

ARLEE — The Jocko Valley folks, as well as folks from throughout the Flathead Indian Reservation, congregated in the Arlee Community Center Sunday to honor the accomplishments of the Arlee Warriors basketball team, that just won the second — consecutive to boot — boys state basketball championship in Arlee High School history.

Approximately 125 people turned out for the event that featured a Scalp Dance — the first time it has been done in 150 years, according to Shandin Pete who led the procession — as well as gifts and a Black Lake Drum honor song for the Warriors and a feed for all.

The lady Scalp Dancers and male hand drummers face off during the Scalp Dance.

The Scalp Dance began the festive days events with Shandin Pete leading an all-male hand drum procession followed by female dancers in regalia.

"These young Warriors have come home from a victory that we celebrate," Emcee Pete said. "That's what this is all about, the old ways, the cultural ways."

Pete said the Scalp Dance hadn't been done for 150 years and addressed folks who might be concerned about its use to honor basketball players now. He said it was okay to take "advantage of the platform" to honor the Arlee Warriors basketball accomplishments as well as their anti-suicide message with the Scalp Dance. "We will long remember this day."

"These guys are all young men now," Arlee Warriors coach Zanen Pitts told the all-ages crowd who jettisoned any Sunday plans they may have had to be at the honoring — the original honoring scheduled for Friday was postponed due to a death — Rest in Peace, Jiggs — in the Jocko Valley community.

The young men Pitts was referring to were, of course, the Montana State C Tournament champions but more importantly addressing the suicide issue with the recent anti-suicide video produced by videographer/photographer Jordan Lefler in cahoots with Pitts and the Warriors.

The team released the video on Facebook the first day of the State C Tournament in Butte. Within hours of its release, it went viral on the Internet and has been viewed by millions of people worldwide since its release.

The lady Scalp Dancers reach out and touch a pair of Warriors Greg Whitesell and Darshen Bolin.

Pitts said it was just a tip of an iceberg on what the young Arlee Warriors could do and he challenged them to work for the betterment of those yet to come and to shine a light on the positives in life and not dwell on the negatives that are a part of life, and can, depending upon the person and situation, lead to suicide attempts or suicide. "I am grateful and humbled to be a part of this family," he said. "It takes a family to raise boys like this and we are all a part of this family, a part of this community."

Pete echoed Pitts on the community of family. "Success is not just these guys but you who witnessed the success of these young men, all of you participants are part of this," he said, adding that the generation the Warriors are part of are coming to age and are the future leaders.

"I want to extend a 'Thank you' from the Tribal Council, especially for the video you did," said Arlee District Representative Shelly Fyant. "You brought honor to the whole community, to your family, tribe and nation."

Brian Lipscomb, CEO of Séliš Ksanka QÍispé Dam, presented the Warriors team and staff with gifts from the tribal membership-owned hydroelectric facility.

Following the gifting, the Black Lake Drum performed an honor song in recognition of the Warriors on- and off-court accomplishments.

Then it was time to break bread.

• FYI, the Arlee Scarlets won the school's first state basketball championship in 1979 with a 45-17 victory over Granite County High School.

The Arlee, Montana Warriors are back-to-back Montana Basketball State Champions.
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