Stone Child College is the home of the Bear Paws, a small post-secondary institution outside of Box Elder, and located on the Rocky Boy Reservation.
The institution is committed to preserving the Chippewa Cree language, culture, and history through its foundational teachings and opportunity. Recently, the opportunities have been expanding on campus.
In July of 2022, a few students who enjoyed playing video games together formed the school’s first varsity E-Sports team. E-Sports are a form of competitive gaming via personal computer in which teams, both collegiate and professional from around the nation, duke it out for online supremacy. There are often cash prizes at stake for grand champions. It’s one of the fastest growing team sports in the country.
As far as the country is concerned, the members of the Bear Paws E-Sports team are one of the only Native-American teams that exist.
“I don't think I’ve seen any other Native American schools, so I scrolled through the list. I think there are 120 schools that are participating and not one of them is a Native American school other than us, and most of them are four year colleges like Boise State and California-Irvine,” says Volunteer Director of the team, Jennifer Duncan.
Bankrolled by the college, the team have access to some professional equipment, custom jerseys, and Bear Paws merchandise.
A brand new team, the players are still working out the kinks in an effort to become truly prepared for tournament season.
“It’s been a process, but as we’ve been going since March, now I feel like we have a pretty good team, and our communication has gotten a lot better, so I feel that we can compete with some of these other teams,” says team member, Trey Trahant.
These other teams, dwarf Stone Child College, and include 4-year colleges like Clemson and Oregon, all with higher bankrolls and larger enrollment. But that hasn’t stopped this group from picking up wins in their early stages, en route to what they hope is a successful future.
“I take a lot of pride in being here, especially as one of the only Native-American E-Sports teams in the country. It’s something that younger generations can look up to us as, and follow in our footsteps,” says team member Joey Davis III.
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