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Grand Traverse Band sends young athletes to North American Indigenous Games

PESHAWBESTOWN, Mich. - The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians held a grand sendoff July 30 for its basketball team, which will attend the North American Indigenous Games in Cowichan Valley, British Columbia, Aug. 3 - 10.

Tribal members of the Medicine Lodge Singers drum group honored the players by song and drumming, and a blanket was thrown to receive money from tribal members. Grand Traverse Band Chairman Bob Kewaygoshkum and the tribal council lined up to individually wish the team a good and prosperous journey. At the conclusion, players gathered together for a group portrait with Kewaygoshkum and coach Ron Anderson.

The team is part of Team Michigan, which consists of six teams of 54 basketball players from five Michigan tribes: the Grand Traverse Band, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, Keeweenaw Bay Indian Community, Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and the Hannahville Indian Community.

Two years ago, the girl's team was undefeated at the games, but did not place because of a point system devised to evaluate undefeated teams in the same age category.

While Team Michigan is participating in the basketball portion of the games, the Indigenous Games has 16 contemporary and traditional sporting events. All regions of North America will be represented, with 13 provincial and territorial teams from across Canada and as many as 20 from the U.S. participating.