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Reaching the Summit

The third blog post I wrote a while back detailed the rise of an American Indian star by the name of Shoni Schimmel. A lot of what I discussed in that post was about how with her prolific rise, Shoni was trying to shake the mantra of the promising Indian talent ultimately fizzling out. This post is not about Shoni, but it is about another woman from the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming who just reached Mount Olympus.

Tahnee Robinson, just finished her career at the University of Nevada after many star-studded high school and collegiate years playing basketball. On Monday, she became the first entirely American Indian athlete to be drafted into the WNBA, the women’s professional basketball association. She was the 31st pick of the draft by the Pheonix Mercury, but will not play with them as she was traded to the Connecticut Suns.

In high school, Tahnee was an All-American basketball player and led her team to the state championship in Wyoming (she is also the first Wyoming-born person to be drafted.) This year she was selected as one of the finalists for the Sullivan award (which honors the top Amateur athlete). She didn’t win; Evan Lysacek, Gold medalist figure skater did, but to be in contention for the award is astounding. Her coach says that Tahnee is one of the hardest workers that he has ever seen, no doubt thanks to her upbringing on the reservation.

I feel like this story is accentuated by the fact that we just read The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven. In that novel, one of the major themes is the American Indians that are revered for their basketball skills, but never ultimately get off the reservation to the next level. This was the trend until now. Now, Tahnee is the trendsetter, the one that the children can look to on the reservation and think that it is actually possible to get to the pinnacle of sports, the pros. Right now, she is the entirely Indian in the WNBA, but she should be joined eventually by Shoni. Together, they should be able to set in motion the furture of American Indian sports: where it is possible to reach Mount Olympus.

Tahnee Robinson

Courtesy of Indian Country Today


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