GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - Seven former athletes from four Montana Indian reservations are the inaugural inductees into the Montana Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.
They were honored Dec. 7 in a ceremony at the office of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council in Billings.
''The state of Montana needs to recognize the rich history of athletics in Montana Indian country. The hall of fame will give us an accurate accounting of feats performed by our American Indian athletes ... in all sports,'' said Don Wetzel Sr., a Browning native and former University of Montana basketball player.
Wetzel said the inductees are from the Blackfeet, Fort Peck, Crow and Flathead reservations and excelled in high school and college basketball, in the boxing ring and in the classroom.
Wetzel began his research in 1971 after graduating from UM. He was dismayed to learn that very few Indians were playing college basketball in the state, despite the high number of state high school basketball championships won by Indian teams, according to the council.
Wetzel felt the hall of fame would be a way to distinguish these fine athletes who played high school basketball as well as players at the college level, council officials said.
The athletes, selected by their tribal communities are:
"Malia Kipp, of the Blackfeet tribe, was the first recruit of an on-reservation player by Montana basketball coach Robin Selvig in 1992.
"Louie Longee, Fort Peck Assiniboine-Sioux, 90, led the Poplar Indians to state Class C titles in 1933 and 1934.
"Phillip Red Eagle, Fort Peck Assiniboine-Sioux, 91, played for Brockton High School between 1933 and '36, with the Warriors losing only three games during that period.
"Pete Conway, Blackfeet, is a former standout basketball player from Browning High School and the former Eastern Montana College.
"Marvin Camel, Salish-Kootenai, formerly of Ronan and Pablo on the Flathead Indian Reservation, is the former light-heavyweight boxing champion.
"Larry Pretty Weasel, Crow, a former Hardin High School standout who once scored 58 points in three quarters of play in the 1960s, years before the 3-point line was put into the high school game. He also holds several collegiate records at Rocky Mountain College.
"Sam Horn, Crow, a graduate of Edgar High School on the Crow Indian Reservation, who is a special academic induction.