imkittymyers at hotmail dot com
Saturday, March 25, 2006
WORLD'S FIRST BASKETBALL CHAMPS WERE GIRLS!
And not just any girls; they were American Indian girls!
"Shoot, Minnie, Shoot!" is their story.
I don't follow sports, however I do enjoy a damned good sports story. The original Rocky was the best of the Balboa litter; I especially loved the story behind the movie, of how Stallone fought to get it made, a story which is now legend.
Also on my list are The Natural, Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own, the underrated Victory, and, of course, Hoosiers.
Hopefully, "Shoot, Minnie, Shoot!" will be made into a movie someday, because if there were ever a feel-good sports story, this is it.
Fort Shaw Superstars
A decade before, the game of basketball had been invented by James Naismith (Springfield, Mass.,1891). It was soon picked up by the Indian schools, and in 1904 Fort Shaw fielded a girls team that could be called the world's first basketball superstars. They are the subject of Happy Jack Feder's Shoot, Minnie, Shoot!, a historical novel for juvenile readers, and based on the actual exploits of the Fort Shaw team. American Spectator online readers may recall Mr. Feder's article of the same title, the piece that was the germ for his book.
Fort Shaw (Minnie, Emma Sansaver, Rose La Rose, Sarah Mitchell, Katie Snell, Belle Johnson, Genevieve Healy, Nettie Wirth, Genie Butch) starts by demolishing local boys' high school teams such as the Great Falls "Rustlers." They moved on to the college level with big wins at the University of Montana in Missoula and at Montana State University in Bozeman, shutting out the latter 22-0. Using choreographed teamwork and expert passing, they easily outplayed male teams whose players were a foot or more taller. Minnie was a phenomenal outside shooter who routinely "swished" the hoop. Since hoop nets were unknown back then, the referees watched closely every time she fired one off.
Their final scores were rather lopsided, with the Montana State shutout emblematic. In those days all scored shots were only worth one point, and game totals were low. Games were much shorter. Each half was "twenty minutes, with no clock stoppage." Games were played on courts of "dirt, wood, or covered with canvas." Still, Fort Shaw crushed all opponents by scores of 25-1, 24-2, etc. Their fame grew and the state's newspapers began to call them "Montana's Team."
The author, Happy Jack Feder of Montana, explained how he came to write "Shoot, Minnie, Shoot!":
I first heard the story on a tour of Fort Shaw. Immediately afterwards a young man ranted about the cruelties of federal Indian schools. When he finished, three very old, very frail, Indian women smiled quietly and shook their heads. One spoke in a frail, silvery voice.
“Oh, but I was so happy at the Indian school. I never wanted to leave!” The others nodded. The angry young man shook his finger at them and stammered, wanting but unable to deny the truth of their experiences.
That incident prompted my writing “Shoot, Minnie, Shoot!” A moderately objective reading of the book will reveal that the theme of truth colliding with a variety of stereotypes held by both whites and Indians is frequently represented.
My novel is not about the cruelties of Indian schools — dozens of such accounts are available. I wanted to write a novel about one specific group of people over the course of one year at one school.
Wouldn't y'know it, the PC cops have their knickers in knots.
Politically correct critics twist story of basketball champs
A March 11 guest opinion criticized my novel "Shoot, Minnie, Shoot!."
Just as certain fanatical Muslims want to forbid Danish cartoonists drawing pictures of Muhammad, the politically motivated authors of the opinion piece want to forbid me, on the premise that I'm Caucasian, from writing about Indians. And, they don't want you, the reader, to know that some Indians had pleasant, beneficial experiences at Indian schools.
Both white and Indian readers have responded enthusiastically to the exciting story and its inspiring message. Granddaughters of the original players have wept in thanking me for writing it. Basketball coaches have bought copies for every member of their teams. Many have written in thanks for providing insight into a surprising and neglected chapter of American history.
Yet the gloomy, pessimistic critics say "Shoot, Minnie, Shoot!" is "dangerous" because it presents a truth they don't want revealed. In clever academic coding of blatant racism, they say that I, a white man, an outsider apart from Indian culture, have no right to tell this story.
To order "SHOOT, MINNIE, SHOOT" by Happy Jack Feder, send your name, address, phone number, email and $14.95 per copy, plus $2 shipping (free shipping on two or more copies) to:
Big Sky Stories,
Augusta, MT 59410
I'm going to order the book because my son-in-law C.O. is 1/4 American Indian and his son Little H loves all ball sports. But I'm reading it first!