The Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings has a March Madness feel to it a little early this year.
The All-American Indian Shootout is calling Billings home once again this weekend.
The tournament, which is hosted by the All American Indian Youth Organization, started five years ago with a total of 8 teams. It has now blown up to 24 teams and 23 basketball games over three days.
Basketball draws the players - but elders want to send them home with more.
Gordon Real Bird Sr. is the President of the Youth Organization and says it’s all about showing support to the kids.
“Our elders like to see the young succeed. When they succeed, we want them to enjoy that quality of life. Go to college, earn a degree, earn a scholarship, get a good job, make a good living, become good citizens. That’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Buddy Windy Boy is the head coach at Plenty Coups and while he’s focused on getting wins and using the tournament as a measuring stick for where his team stands, he definitely believes there are lessons to learn.
“It is possible to have something like this, not just the bigger schools and not just the bigger city schools and towns. You know, we can have the same thing they can. It’s fun. Go to any reservation basketball is almost a life style, so it just adds to the atmosphere that we’re all here playing, hustling, getting baskets. It’s fun to see,” he said.
All of the proceeds from the tournament are split between the participating schools.
The All-American Indian Shootout runs through Saturday with the boys championship game being played at 5:30 p.m. and the girls going right after at 7 p.m.