The North Americans

From: Trimble, Sarah, North Americans advance to world tourney., Indian Country Today (Lakota Times), 08-10-1994, pp PG. The North Americans will be at the '96 Perth Shootout in June. "North Americans advance to world tourney" North Americans advance to world tourney.
By Sarah Trimble

Indian Country Today
ROCA, Neb. -- An all-Indian fast pitch softball team has qualified to play in the International Softball Congress World Tournament this weekend. The 1994 North Americans fastpitch softball team, 1993 National Indian Fastpitch champions will play at Prince Edward Island, Canada, during Aug. 11 through 21. (1994)

The North Americans are the only all-Native team to qualify for the tournament. Forty-eight teams from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand qualified for the ISC tournament out of thousands of teams all over the world.

"It's not just what they do on the field but off the field too," said Bob Starck, labor and administration department for the team. He said he's proud of the team for making it to the ISC World Tournament two years in a row and being drug-and alcohol-free role models for the youth.

The North Americans also established a "Straight Arrow" youth program to keep children in school, and say no to drugs and alcohol. They believe there are not enough good role models available for young Native Americans on reservations.

Richard Brewer, a Oglala Sioux originally from Pine Ridge, has been on the North Americans team for three years. He joined to discourage the youth from getting involved with drugs and alcohol.

Mr. Brewer also said he enjoyed traveling the United States and Canada to play softball against the best players in the world. "Our goal is to be the world champions and we're capable of it, but it'll take some time," said Mr. Brewer.

Mr. Brewer's message to the youth is: "Drugs and alcohol are not the way to go. Be a 'straight arrow', don't give into peer pressure."

Mark Lunderman, a Rosebud Sioux originally from Rosebud, has been on the team for two years and said the main reasons why he joined was promoting an alcohol and drug free lifestyle for Native American youth, and the tremendous competition.

"Hopefully spending time and working with Indian youth and sharing my experiences can help them with their own life down the road and showing them that Indian athletes can compete at a world level and every where else can help them develop Indian pride," said Mr. Lunderman.

Mr. Lunderman said the team has a sense of family and the tribal differences don't interfere with the friendships. They work together and are the only drug-and alcohol-free, all Native American team and practice what they preach.

His message to the youth is: "Stay off of drugs and alcohol and stay in school. They (drugs and alcohol) have no purpose in life and will set you back rather than ahead. Take advantage of opportunities in life and grow from them."

Mr. Brewer and Mr. Lunderman said the team has experienced some discrimination but mostly from the fans and not too often. "Mostly we get positive remarks, people want to come and see and all-Native ball club," said Mr. Brewer.

"People have a stereotypical image of Native Americans. We want to change that. There's a lot of teaching and learning going on with this team. There are some discriminatory comments, but we ignore them and stay on the high road," said Mr. Starck.

The team was established in 1989 by Frank LaMere in coordination with the Nebraska Indian Inter-Tribal Development Corporation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the positive enhancement of Native American youths across North America.

The team is made up of Native Americans from North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Ontario.

The players are chosen nation wide and in Canada by scouts who are not only outstanding players but alcohol and drug free and who work with children.

The North Americans roster of players includes JoJo Barnett, Creek Nation; Bill Berry, Kiowa-Apache; Ken Billingsley, Hunkpapa Lakota; Rich Brewer, Oglala Sioux; Mike Henson, Comanche; Frank La Mere, Winnebago; Mark Lunderman, Rosebud Sioux; Tuffy Lunderman, Rosebud Sioux; Jim McClung, Comanche; Darwin "Flip" Snyder, Winnebago; Eric Tiger, Creek Nation; Tony Valladolid, Winnebago; Mike Joseph, Iroquois; Earl LaForte, Ojibway; Lyle Normand, Cree; and Wayne "Windy" Ward, Choctaw.

The North Americans are sponsored by Big Red Keno and many Native American casinos around the United States.

Ethnic NewsWatch (c) SoftLine Information, Inc., Stamford, CT

Trimble, Sarah, North Americans advance to world tourney., Indian Country Today (Lakota Times), 08-10-1994, pp PG.

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