ARLEE — Community members on the Flathead Reservation came together on Saturday for a good cause and to get some exercise.
Starting at 10 a.m. amid a smoky backdrop, hundreds got together to either compete in the 3-on-3 basketball tournament or cheer on players at the Pow Wow Grounds in Arlee.
"This is our first annual MMIP community awareness event," organizer Vincent Bird-Webster told MTN News.
The day was planned not only to get kids and adults alike outside and engaged in friendly competition, but also to raise awareness for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples movement.
"We were going to do a song for MMIP in a project and we just kind of kept brainstorming and figured that you know, what does the rez love? Basketball," Bird-Webster said.
Players ranged from 5th grade to men's and women's brackets. Money raised will go toward families impacted by the crisis by adding to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' MMIP account.
"It's a good way to earn money for a good cause, and like I said, it's healthy. We're trying to get over the hump of COVID, too, and get everybody back out," Bird-Webster said.
Desert Horse Cafe was in attendance serving up fry bread and other goodies. They also donated a portion of their proceeds to the cause.
"It feels awesome. You know it's been a humbling experience. It's been a very stressful event, you know, leading up to it, but now that it's going, it's just cool to see all the kids out here and see them having fun," Bird-Webster said.
The event concludes Saturday evening with an awareness concert at 8 p.m.