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The Warrior Movement Comes to the 2019 NABI Tournament

Maricopa, AZ – On Sunday, June 23rd – Saturday, June 29th, the 17th Annual NABI Tournament will be converging to play Basketball. For many tribal members, it’s a week of healthy competition and a chance to share their love of The Game. It’s also an opportunity for tribal youth to attend a Youth Summit; participate in scholarship opportunities; check out educational and financial options at a College and Career Fair; and most importantly – for all tribes to feel proud. To celebrate heritage as a unified people.

Opening Ceremonies, including tribal teams and their flags, will commence on Sunday, June 23 at the Ultra-Star Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle.  There will be a special NIKE N7 presentation on the big screen that night. On Monday, June 24, the tournament games begin at various NABI host gyms in the Phoenix/Maricopa area. On Saturday, June 29th, the NABI Championship Games will take place, with all finalist teams competing for their Division Championship titles at the Talking Stick Resort Arena (Home of the Phoenix Suns & Phoenix Mercury – 201 E. Jefferson St, Phoenix, AZ).

Together We Rise

As mentioned earlier, the NABI gathering is an excellent opportunity for tribal members to communicate current issues affecting them nationwide, as a whole. One such topic is the social issue of suicide. Nationwide, tribes have been affected by this sobering issue.

The Flathead Reservation – home to 13 different tribes, including the Bitterroot Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreilles tribes (also known as the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation) in northwest Montana is certainly no different – and in fact, has been so deeply affected, so generationally affected – that local tribal members have taken social media measures to help their people – as a whole – through the formation of the federally recognized 501c3 “Warrior Movement”.  

And they’re coming with their namesake team to compete in NABI; and to speak on behalf of the Movement, to all in attendance of the NABI Gathering.

Mission Statement: “Warriors, making sure every person on earth knows they matter – they’re loved, and someone cares.”

The Warrior Movement, was co-founded by Pend d’Oreilles first descendant Zanen Pitts, and second descendant Salish-Kootenai, Jordan Lefler.

“Pitts was chosen Montana Class C boys basketball coach of the year after the 2017 and 2018 basketball seasons. He helped produce two Class C State MVPs…”  “in 2018 — and had eight players earn 16 all-state awards…” “Arlee made five state appearances in Pitts’ time leading the team and won three divisional crowns, five district titles and five conference championships.” 

Quote and photo pulled from an article on 406 MT Sports

Zanen Pitts, Warrior Movement Co-Founder, is not only a very accomplished basketball player and coach; but also a 2X Indian National Finals Rodeo Qualifier in the Tie-Down Roping.

Jordan Lefler, co-founder of the Warrior Movement. He is a second descendant Salish-Kootenai who is an award-winning producer, and produced the Warrior Movement’s viral video, with over 1.1 Million views.

Zanen and Jordan launched the Warrior Movement in February of 2018; right after the Arlee Class C basketball team, largely comprised of local tribal members of the Flathead Nation, were preparing to win their second State Class C Championship, under the direction of their coach – Zanen Pitts. They ended up winning back to back Championships – 2017 & 2018 and broke numerous state records, including 4 consecutive trips to the finals.

The Arlee Warriors – first in Arlee history to win back-to-back State Class C Championships (2017-2018)

Their 48 game winning streak was the longest in Montana Class C history. They were on top of the world. But they were hurting. Their community, their school, had been embroiled with the terrible consequences of multiple suicides.

The Warrior Movement went viral with a video that reached 1.1 million views and has since garnered sponsorship by Nike, featured in a  New York Times Magazine edition, and on the NBA TV show Beyond the Paint in three different episodes. They have also secured a special $50,000 grant from Montana Senator Jon Tester.

And now, the Warrior Movement is coming to the 2019 NABI Tournament.

Zanen Pitts, Movement co-founder, and captain of the NABI team namesake “Warrior Movement”, will be speaking to the tribal youth as part of the NIKE N7 Presentation and will be rolling out a plan. A plan to act together as one nation – to protect and strengthen their youth.

Simultaneously, NIKE will be premiering their newest N7 video on the big screen – and it will feature three members of the NABI Team “Warrior Movement”: Isaac Fisher, Lane Johnson, and Greg Whitesell – all Arlee high school team members; and all have been coached by Pitts.

Isaac Fisher, 6’9″,  Salish/Blood.

He is one of three Arlee Warriors to be featured in the Nike N7 Promo Video, which will be premiered during the 2019 NABI Tournament in Maricopa, Arizona.

Lane Johnson, 6’2″,  Salish.

NABI Team “Warrior Movement”, and high school basketball team “Arlee Warrior” member. Lane has played in 4 consecutive title games and 3 Montana State Championships. He is one of three Arlee Warriors to be featured in the Nike N7 Promo Video, which will be premiered during the 2019 NABI Tournament in Maricopa, Arizona.

Greg Whitesell, 5’9,  Navajo.

NABI Team “Warrior Movement”, and high school basketball team “Arlee Warrior” member. Greg has played in 4 Montana State Championships. He is one of three Arlee Warriors to be featured in the Nike N7 Promo Video, which will be premiered during the 2019 NABI Tournament in Maricopa, Arizona.

Other members of the NABI “Warrior Movement” team will be Jerrick Trumbull, 6’3 – Northern Arapaho -Played in 3 state Championships and playing for United Tribal Tech College next year; Hudda Herrera/Curry, 6’7 -Northern Arapaho & Crow – played for Laramie, WY High School and about to sign for college ball; Trae Hugs, 6’4 – Crow – who was an All-State Junior and played in the last 2 State Championships and also going on to play in college; Tyree Whitcomb, 6’5 – Blackfeet – going to be playing for Providence University in Great Falls, MT; Riley Spoonhunter, 6’3 – Blackfeet – an All-State junior at browning high school, going into his senior season; Brendon Johnson, 6’4 – Sioux – All-State junior from Livingston, MT going into his senior season at Park High School; and of course – Zanen Pitts – Montana State Class C Coach of the Year, and the only coach in Montana history to lead a team through a 48-game winning streak; as well as four consecutive trips to the State Class C Championships.

We hope that the “Together We Rise” message that the Warrior Movement brings with them to the 2019 NABI Tournament will not only be heard – but joined. Embraced. Practiced.

The Cowboy Lifestyle Network wishes each and every one of the 2019 NABI teams the best of luck. But most of all CLN wishes a spirit of unity overall in attendance, and hope that many lifetime friendships and connections will be made during the 2019 NABI Tournament!

CLN Community & Event Sponsor

Born and raised on a cattle ranch on the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwest Montana, Eileen graduated from University of Montana - Western with a Business Degree. She is the mother of two grown children - Sydnee, and Billy Quade; and grandmother of two, Lillian and Rocky Rex. Eileen draws from personal, life experiences; as she has held many positions over the years including heavy equipment operator, member of a survey crew for Independence Mining, veterinary technician, Bud Girl for Anheuser-Busch, PR Director for the Idaho Cowboys Association, feed manager for Midland Bull Test Station in Columbus, Montana, National Event Coordinator for Montana Silversmiths, security guard for the Muskogee Creek Nation One Fire Casino, Marketing Director for the Tulsa RV Ranch, and freelance writer for various publications - including a weekly column for three years in the "Elko Daily Free Press" in Elko, Nevada. She enjoys training barrel horses and singing - and has sung the National Anthem for rodeos such as the Reno Rodeo in Reno, Nevada, the College National Finals, and the New Year's Eve Bull Bash in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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