Native Hockey Players Inspiring More Native Youth To Play

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown January 24th, 2014 Last Updated on: January 24th, 2014

“You know, it isn't often that you'll find 5,000 South Dakotans in Western South Dakota cheering for an Indian kid,” says Brandon Ecoffey, an Oglala Lakota journalist and hockey fan from Rapid City. “You know, and the way that (Winston) Day Chief plays the game with his ability and hard work, it's something that we can all really come together and support.”

And it isn't just Day Chief, a 26-year-old Blackfoot from the Blood Reserve in southern Alberta. Rush teammate and fellow Canadian Justin Sawyer is of Ojibwe descent. At 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, Sawyer plays a different role on the ice than Day Chief.

But Ecoffey believes both have hustled their way into the hearts of non-Native hockey fans, while inspiring Native Americans in western South Dakota – a people known for their basketball skills and passion – to celebrate a different sport.

“Winston Day Chief and Justin Sawyer are two players that connect not only with Native fans who are new to the sport but non-Native fans through their play,” Ecoffey says.

Sawyer carries a big stick on the ice, but also values his impact in race relations.

“I think it's great,” Sawyer says. “People are starting to realize that we all just love hockey and we're all friends, so it's great.”

Video and story via KELOLAND TV.

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About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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Kathleen S.

Jordin Tootoo is of Inuit and Ukrainian descent.. played for Detroit and is currently with the New Jersey Devils.


There are plenty of Native Americans even in the NHL! TJ Oshie, Rene Bourque, and Carey Price who is also going to be the goalie for Team Canada in the olympics are all Natives! Henry Boucha is a full blooded indian represented team USA in the olympics and was a great player in the NHL! We have MANY Native hero’s in minor hockey and the NHL! Now lets get more Native kids on the ice!!

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