Before I watched the girls from Louisville play last night, I watched a special called "Off the Rez." It covered Shoni and Jude Schimmel basketball journey from the rez to the city of Portland, 200 miles away. It wasn't an easy life, starting with their parents. The father was white and the mother Indian and many of his friends shunned him, as did his dad for getting with an Indian woman. In a way we hoped that racist behavior stopped long ago, but not so. It is alive and well and something we have to deal with on a daily basis, as they did.
It is a tribute to how hard work paid off for the girls despite so much poverty and hardship. Often times it is hard to leave home for young people, whether you live on a rez or not, but they took up the challenge and went to Louisville, Kentucky to play basketball. I went by Louisville one time, a long time ago and don't remember much about it. No matter, it was a long way from home for the Shimmel sisters. The girls had a big following in Portland including their two 80 year great grandmothers who drove to all the games and would get home at 3 in the morning. Of course, that's what family is all about. Their mother pushed them hard to be all the could be and the rest is history.
By getting to the National Championship game, they have fired the Indian nations up and it is great to see them receive recognition and to create so much positive news. Indian people need this. They will be Indian rock stars for years and will serve as inspirations to young Indian kids across this country - this is what can happen if you use your talent the right way and rise above a petty world, if not down-right vicious at times.
Maybe the young girl in this picture, Shuggy, will see that special and hear about the Schimmel sisters and what they have accomplished and she will pick up a basketball and put in the necessary hard work and if she doesn't, that's alright too. For that matter, any Indian kid can learn from the Schimmel journey. Nonetheless the Schimmel sisters have made the Indian people across this country proud.