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Saturday, February 4, 2023

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SDSU has been partnered with ITS for 20 years, and continues to support and spotlight Indigenous youth through the N7 halftime performance, and more recently through the DreamCatchers. SDSU has been partnered with ITS for 20 years, and continues to support and spotlight Indigenous youth through the N7 halftime performance, and more recently through the DreamCatchers.
 


The DreamCatchers Take Center Stage for Aztecs Annual Nike N7 Basketball Game

SDSU spotlights indigenous women and girls for the eighth year in recognition of Native American Heritage Month.
By Nandi Maunder
 

SDSU’s cheer team joined the DreamCatchers Cheer Team for their annual N7 Men’s Basketball halftime performance Tuesday in Viejas Arena.

 

Brought together by cheerleading, girls ranging in age from 4- to 12-years-old were the main performers of the night. After months of practice and rehearsal, including with the SDSU Cheer team, the DreamCatchers had the opportunity to cheer at the collegiate level as well as experience a college campus from such young ages. Many team members were returning students and performed in Viejas Arena with crowds for the first time since the pandemic.  

 

Eight cheerleaders represented the DreamCatchers at the game, along with Head Coach Lisa Becerra and Assistant Coach Audrey Freeman. Indigenous leaders and communities were honored by SDSU during the N7 game, including the DreamCatchers, a cheer team made up of Indigenous girls from Southern California tribal communities.

 

“They look up to the San Diego State cheerleaders and it’s pretty empowering for them to get that experience, and see what it’s like for a night to be a college student-athlete,” said Isaiah Thompson, ITS executive director and a former participant. He is also a member of the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians, a federally recognized tribe of the Kumeyaay people. SDSU also formally recognizes the Kumeyaay in the SDSU Land Acknowledgement. 

 

November is Native American Heritage Month, and Nike has partnered with SDSU Men’s Basketball to celebrate and support Indigenous people, culture, and causes. In 2014, SDSU joined a select few colleges and universities nationwide chosen by Nike for the N7 game. Nike’s N7 program supports Inter Tribal Sports (ITS), a nonprofit program that aims to “unify tribal youth and communities through structured athletic programs while providing necessary resources and developing a strong foundation in culture, leadership and wellness.” 

 

SDSU has been partnered with ITS for 20 years, and continues to support and spotlight Indigenous youth through the N7 halftime performance, and more recently through the DreamCatchers. 

 

The cheer program is one of many consistently offered athletic programs for Indigenous youth, including basketball, soccer, and cross country, among others. 

 

The N7 Fund was founded in 2009 by Nike to “get youth in Native American and Indigenous communities in North America moving,” reaching out to universities with strong Indigenous representation, such as SDSU. To celebrate Native American Heritage Month and the N7 mission, Nike sponsors a November basketball game honoring the N7 Fund recipients in the area, including ITS. N7 comes from the Seventh Generation Principle, “we must consider the impact of our decisions on the seventh generation.”

 

SDSU’s 2022 N7 game was on Tuesday, Nov. 29, against UC Irvine, which the Aztecs won 72-69. Players wore turquoise-colored uniforms, symbolizing friendship and fellowship in Indigenous cultures. The worn jerseys are currently being auctioned off by SDSU Men’s Basketball team, and all proceeds will benefit ITS, SDSU’s Native Resource Center, and Native American Student Alliance. The auction ends at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7

 

ITS is a zero cost sports organization dedicated to Indigenous youth and their families, bridging different tribes. ITS has impacted 22 different tribes across four different counties in Southern California, building lifelong community ties in the region. 

 

“Upon graduation they can take those skills into life and become the future leaders of all of our tribal communities,” Thompson added, seeing the organization as “giving the power of sport and the power of movement to all the kids that we serve.” 

 

“We’re just grateful that a big corporation and big university like Nike and San Diego State gives our community the opportunity to be seen,” Thompson said.

 

ITS is one of over 270 recipients of Nike’s N7 program, receiving most of its funding through grants and scholarships totaling over $8 million, including funding for the DreamCatchers.