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  • John Alexander Hunter, Muscogee Creek

    John Alexander Hunter Muscogee Creek Induction Category: Year Inducted Builder 2024 <Back John Alexander Hunter is a Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska descendant and White Earth Nation descendant living in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. He is a Muscogee Creek Nation citizen through his paternal grandmother’s (Alexander) family. Encouraged and supported by parents and family, Hunter took great interests in most sports in his home community of St. Paul, Minnesota. He earned the Dave Winfield Scholarship Award for athletic, scholarly, and service achievement in high school. With little more than the encouragement of a literature teacher, John started the first ever organized lacrosse team for his high school in 1994, which went on the state championship its first two years of play. Many of the players had been looked over for the school's most popular sports of baseball and hockey. Lacrosse quickly became popular as many of these student athletes were without an outlet for competitive team athletics. This was an exciting time to organize lacrosse, since there were only 8 teams in the inaugural statewide league, and interest was growing rapidly. Hunter took his lacrosse skills to Stanford University, he played four years of lacrosse and earned team captain honors his senior year. Focusing on starting a family and career, John took a break from lacrosse organizing until 2014 when he co-founded the non-profit sports organization, Twin Cities Native Lacrosse. He was inspired by other local indigenous lacrosse groups such as the Lightning Sticks Society. Since its beginning, Twin Cities Native Lacrosse has helped inspire the rapid growth of the traditional lacrosse games throughout the western Great Lakes communities. The traditional lacrosse game had not been played on a large scale in the region for over 100 years. Facilitating games, hosting skills clinics, and promoting traditional stick-making arts was the core work of the group. Hunter used the network of schools and indigenous youth groups in the Twin Cities to place the Anishinaabe and Dakota ball games directly in front of hundreds of Indigenous youth. Many now teach the game themselves. In 2018, the success of the community work was honored with a Super Bowl Legacy Grant. In 2020, Hunter was selected as the Head Coach for the Minneapolis Boys’ High School Lacrosse team, and became one of the first indigenous lacrosse head coaches in the state’s history. Also in 2020, John became the founding board member for the international non-profit organization, Anishinaabe Baagaadowewin, with a mission to share Anishinaabe history and culture -- specifically about traditional ball games. Hunter helped Anishinabe Baagaadowewin complete the initial work towards the the formation of an Anishinaabe National team. In 2022, Hunter was the primary consultant to BBC Radio’s podcast about ‘Great Lakes’ traditional lacrosse, which was broadcast to millions of listeners worldwide.

  • LA Williams, Diné

    LA Williams <Back Diné Induction Category: Media Year Inducted 2023 L.A. Williams is a longtime Diné broadcaster, sports announcer, commentator, and public speaker from the Navajo Nation. She has worked as a sports radio broadcaster for nearly 30 years, bringing sports events to the Navajo people through the radio airwaves. She started her broadcasting career while attending Fort Lewis College in the early ‘90s before becoming the sports voice of the Navajo Nation as the sports director at KTNN, a local Navajo radio station that prides itself in delivering a Navajo language only broadcast. While at KTNN, she attended many sporting events, commentating and announcing in the Navajo language for the people. During the 1993/1994 NBA season, she signed a contract with the Phoenix Suns, and worked closely with Suns announcer Al McCoy, who challenged the idea that a Phoenix Suns game play-by-play could be done entirely in Navajo. Williams not only made it happen, but went on to interview sports celebrities Robin Roberts, Kobie Bryant, and Chery Miller​, to name a few. Williams also regularly broadcasts in Navajo from the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and has broadcasted a number of NFL games in Diné. She spent 20 years at KTNN and was dubbed “The Voice of Navajo Sports,” before taking up the communications specialist position at Winslow Indian Health Care Center from 2016-2019. During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she used her Navajo language skills to translate and relay pandemic-related information to the Diné. During the 2021/2022 NBA season, she returned to Phoenix and provided play-by-play during the NBA Playoffs. Williams is now the program manager at Diné College’s KXWR station, where she trains Navajo students to become the next generation of Navajo radio broadcasters, in hopes of continuing the Diné language.

  • Rob McClain, Muscogee Creek/Red Lake Ojibwe

    < Back Rob McClain ​ ​ ​ Rob McClain Muscogee Creek/Red Lake Ojibwe Induction Category: Year Inducted Athlete 2022 Rob McClain started his athletic career in Red Lake, Minnesota. There he was a three sport athlete that excelled in Football, Golf and especially Basketball. Red Lake High school is where Rob played on the team varsity team for four years and went to the state tournament each of the four years. In his final two years of high school his team finished with a top four finish at state. He concluded his high school career with over 1500 points and 1300 rebounds. Rob played junior college basketball at United Tribes Technical College the next two years. He scored over 1000 points, was named all-conference two years in a row and also named an All-American in his second year playing there. He played well enough to garner attention from many NCAA Division I and II schools. He played his final two years of college basketball for the NCAA Division 1 school University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) coached by the late Lew Hill. Rob graduated from UTRGV in May of 2021 with his degree and is now back at United Tribes as an assistant coach on the Men’s Basketball team. <Back

  • Michael Linklater, Cree from Thunderchild First Nation Treaty 6 Territory

    < Back Michael Linklater ​ ​ ​ Michael Linklater Cree from Thunderchild First Nation Treaty 6 Territory Induction Category: Year Inducted Athlete 2023 Michael Linklater has established himself as one of the world’s top 3X3 basketball players. As team captain he represented Saskatoon in FIBA’s 3X3 World Tour as well as the Canadian National team at the World Cup. Linklater picked up a basketball at an early age on an inner city court and in 2010, he made history as team captain when he lead the University of Saskatchewan Huskie men’s basketball team to its first and only Canada-West Conference Championship and CIS National Championship. Michael played for the Saskatchewan Rattlers in 2019 in the Canadian Elite Basketball League and won the league championship during the inaugural season. Michael was inducted into the Saskatoon sports hall of fame in 2022. Michael has utilized his wealth of athletic accomplishments to help create awareness about issues, off the court. He is a proud Nehiyāw (Cree) descending from the Thunderchild First Nation, located in Treaty 6 Territory. Linklater is the founder of the International Campaigm, “Boys with Braids.“ He has won numerous awards as an advocate for Indigenous youth and for his community involvement. Over the past two and half decades, Michael has delivered hundreds of keynote addresses to tens of thousands of youth and adults across the world. He is also a certified Yoga instructor and incorporates his traditional spirituality into each practice. Most importantly, Michael is a proud father who understands the significance of his cultural traditions and role modelling a healthy lifestyle to his children. <Back

  • Ayanna O’Kimosh, Oneida/Menominee/Arikara

    < Back Ayanna O’Kimosh ​ ​ ​ Ayanna O’Kimosh Oneida/Menominee/Arikara Induction Category: Year Inducted Athlete 2023 Ayanna “Naenwehtawukiw-Warrior Woman” O’Kimosh is from Keshena, Wisconsin and she is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation and descendent of the Menominee and Arikara Nations. She is a freshman at the Shawano Community High School in Wisconsin. She began a journey in boxing in 2018 with the Menominee Indian Boxing Club. As an amateur boxer, she won two Junior Olympic State Championships, two Silver Gloves State Championships, is a Silver Gloves National Champion and is a 2x USA Boxing National Champion. In addition to her love of boxing, she spends a lot of her time training and playing softball for Impact Sports Academy’s in De Pere, Wisconsin. Living up to her Menominee name, she is a warrior spirit who represents resiliency in her tribal nations Oneida-Menominee-Arikara. Her platform inside and outside of the ring is to fight to bring attention and awareness to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and girls/people epidemic that plagues Native American communities throughout the United States and Canada. Her motivation in fighting is to demonstrate that resiliency by breaking down barriers and challenging the statistics, injustices, to change the narrative for future generations by being a positive role model for other native youth. She chose to focus her platform on awareness and supports prevention efforts fundraising to support much needed community resources aimed to reduce the risk for women and girls. Some notable awareness work includes local and national collaborative events with professional women boxers including local and international interviews, presentations, keynoting for 2021 Girls Summit and using her social media to spread the word. When she is not at the boxing gym training or at the softball complex training, she enjoys some of her other favorites such as reading, singing, playing the guitar, painting, baking, creating art and crocheting. <Back

  • Michael Thompson, Mohawk

    < Back Michael Thompson ​ ​ ​ Michael Thompson Mohawk Induction Category: Year Inducted Athlete 2024 Michael “Mike” Thompson is a member of the Mohawk Nation and has lived, played and coached in Akwesasne for most of his life. He is one of the most decorated indoor box lacrosse goaltenders to ever play the game of box lacrosse, yet is kind, giving and humble to the core. Thompson played field lacrosse in high school and was an effective and intimidating defenseman. He began playing box lacrosse goalie at the age of 20 while playing in the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse league for the Akwesasne Lightening. He was a natural and quickly made a name for himself as one of the top goaltenders of his generation. He first played professional box lacrosse for the Ottawa Rebels and later enjoyed a professional career with the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League where he won the NLL Championship in 2008. During the summers, Thompson played in the Ontario Major Series Lacrosse League, often called Senior A, with the Peterborough Lakes. He won two Mann Cup Canadian National Championships with the Lakers and was named MVP of the Championship series when they won in 2012. Winning a Mann Cup is considered the pinnacle of success in the lacrosse world and being awarded the Mike Kelley MVP trophy was one of the greatest honors of his life. Thompson also enjoyed success with the Iroquois Nationals Men’s Box Lacrosse team having competed three World Championships. Thompson retired from professional lacrosse in 2012 to focus on coaching his two sons who are also incredibly talented and dedicated lacrosse players. He currently resides in Akwesasne with his wife, two sons and his daughter. <Back

  • Joseph Giovannetti, Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation

    < Back Joseph Giovannetti ​ ​ ​ Joseph Giovannetti Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation Induction Category: Year Inducted Athlete 2024 Joseph Giovannetti, a proud Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation member and accomplished middle-distance runner, was born in Eureka, California. His athletic prowess first shone at Eureka High School; in 1967, he claimed victory as the Humboldt-Del Norte counties varsity mile champion, marking the beginning of his stellar career. In 1968, he clinched the North Coast Section Division III 880 title and set the EHS 880 school record with a time of 1:55.7. At Humboldt State College (now California State Polytechnic University), Giovannetti’s running talent flourished under the guidance of renowned coach Jim Hunt, displaying remarkable consistency and excellence in middle-distance running. He qualified for the NCAA College Division national championships all four years of his college career. One of his most notable achievements came in 1971 when he finished eighth in the NCAA College Division 880 national championship finals. This would be recognized as a First Team All-American honor by today's standards. Giovannetti's list of accomplishments is extensive. He set multiple records, including the Humboldt State 660 record, co-holding the HSU 880 record at 1:51.8 (equivalent to 1:51.1 in 800 meters), and contributing to HSU's 4X880 yards relay team in 1971. His excellence extended to other events as well, playing a key role in HSU's Sprint Medley Relay record in 1970 and the No. 2 all-time 4X440 relay team in 1971 against Sacramento State University. Off the track, Giovannetti has made significant contributions to his Indigenous community and academia. He was a Professor Emeritus of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University, making invaluable contributions from 1994 to 2018. He earned his Ph.D. from Sierra University and has been an active member of the Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation Tribal Council since 2007. Joseph Giovannetti's legacy is one of resilience, achievement, and advocacy. His journey as an athlete and scholar has left an indelible mark on the Indigenous community. As a citizen of the Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation, Giovannetti serves as an inspiration to future generations, showcasing that determination and dedication can lead to greatness both on and off the track. <Back

  • Danny Hodgson, Cree Metis

    < Back Danny Hodgson ​ ​ ​ Danny Hodgson Cree Metis Induction Category: Year Inducted Athlete 2024 Danny Hodgson was born in Fort Vermilion, AB. and grew up playing minor hockey in Fort McMurray, AB. In 1980-81, at the age of 15, Hodgson began playing junior hockey with the Cowichan Flyers of the BCJHL. After two seasons, he joined the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League (WHL) and was named the WHL Rookie of the Year in 1982-83. The next season, Hodgson finished second in league scoring with 181 points and followed it up with 182 points in 1984-85-while breaking Bobby Clarke’s WHL all-time record for assists. In 1984-85, Hodgson won the Ed Chynoweth Cup with Prince Albert as league champions and then the 1985 Memorial Cup as Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Champions. He was named the 1984-85 CHL Player of the Year and 1985 Memorial Cup MVP as he set a Memorial Cup record with 13 assists. Hodgson represented Canada two times at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, placing fourth in 1984 and winning gold in 1985 as Team Captain. He continued to win major awards in 1985, as he was named the Canadian Amateur Sportsman of the Year. In 2016, he was named the 27th greatest player of all-time in WHL history. Hodgson was drafted 83rd overall in the fifth round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs and spent four seasons in the NHL from 1985 to 1989 playing a total of 114 games for Toronto and Vancouver Canucks. He scored 29 goals and added 45 assists for 74 points over his NHL career and had a career-high of 5 points (1g, 4a) in one game during the 1987-88 season versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hodgson played professionally in Europe for 17 more seasons as he played in Austria, Eishockey-Bundesliga (Germany), and the Swiss-A League. While in the Swiss-A league, he won back-to-back titles with the ZSC Lions in 2000 and 2001. As a professional in Europe, Hodgson represented Canada twice at the Spengler Cup, winning the championship 2001, and would play in six more with his club teams Hedos Muchen (1), and HC Davos (5). <Back

  • Gary Hull

    Officials Gary Hull Inupiaq Danny McCourt Algonquin/Iroquois Brian Chrupalo Pine Creek Frist Nation 282 Michael Thomas St. Croix Ojibwe

  • Briana Mazzolini-Blanchard, CHamoru

    < Back Briana Mazzolini-Blanchard ​ ​ ​ Briana Mazzolini-Blanchard CHamoru Induction Category: Year Inducted Athlete/Builder 2023 Briana Mazzolini-Blanchard is a community organizer, Indigenous environmental conservation advocate, educator, and rock climber. She is Native CHamoru and Indigenous to the island of Guam, a US territory, but currently resides on the ancestral homeland of the Shawandasse Tula and Myaamia peoples in Cincinnati, Ohio with her partner and son. Mazzolini-Blanchard is the Co-Founder of the Indigenous Field Guide, a digital resource created to amplify Indigenous voices and provide public education to prevent the damage of non-renewable environmental and cultural resources, and she is also the Strategic Partnerships Manager for Access Fund, the nation's leading climber advocacy organization. She is an athlete representing Mammut North America, Gnarly Nutrition, SCARPA North America, Rhino Skin Solutions, and Asana Climbing. <Back

  • Kelvin Sampson, Lumbee

    Kelvin Sampson <Back Lumbee Induction Category: Year Inducted Coach 2022 Kelvin Sampson (Lumbee, North Carolina) is a 33-year head coaching veteran at Houston, Indiana, Oklahoma, Washington State and Montana Tech. Sampson has compiled a 681-336 record during his career. He has led his teams to 16 NCAA Tournament appearances, including 11 in 12 years with the Sooners from 1994 to 2006. During his Oklahoma tenure, he guided the Sooners to 10 consecutive 20-win seasons, the 1999 Sweet 16, the 2002 Final Four and an Elite Eight appearance in 2003. Sampson is one of only 15 coaches in NCAA history to lead 4+ schools to the NCAA Tournament. With the Cougars’ run to the 2021 NCAA Final Four, Sampson became one of only 16 coaches to lead multiple schools to the Final Four. In only seven seasons at Houston, Sampson is the only coach in school history to lead the Cougars to six consecutive 20-win seasons and became the second-winningest coach in program history during the 2020-21 season. He already ranks as the school’s career leader with a .723 winning percentage. In his career, he has been named a National Coach of the Year four times. Sampson has received six conference Coach of the Year awards from four different leagues and guided every program he has led to multiple 20-win seasons during his stints. As a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Sampson is the first and only Native American basketball coach to lead a program to the Final Four with the Oklahoma Sooners 2002 and Houston Cougars 2021.

  • Janee’ Kassanavoid, Comanche Nation of Oklahoma

    < Back Janee’ Kassanavoid ​ ​ ​ Janee’ Kassanavoid Comanche Nation of Oklahoma Induction Category: Year Inducted Athlete 2023 Janee’ Kassanavoid, member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma, is the daughter of Janet and Ron Kassanavoid. Youngest of 6 siblings, she grew up with three all NCAA Division I athletes. Born and raised in Lawson, MO and graduated from Lawson High School. A multi-sport athlete, lettering in softball, volleyball, basketball, and track & field. In 2013, Janee’ attended Johnson County Community College on a Track & Field scholarship for one season. She became an Indoor NJCAA Runner-up in the weight throw and an Outdoor NJCAA Champion in the hammer throw. In 2014, she attended Kansas State University on a Track & Field scholarship, becoming a 3x Big 12 Champion and a 4x All-American during collegiate career. She is the current K-State weight throw 21.81m (71.60 feet) and hammer throw 68.21m (223.09 feet) school record holder. In 2018, Janee’ graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics. She is currently a professional Nike Track and Field athlete, representing Team USA and as a Nike N7 ambassador she is representing culture and sharing the journey to gold as a Native Athlete. A history making moment was becoming the first Indigenous woman to medal at the World Athletics Track and Field Championships by claiming the bronze medal. Her personal best throw with the hammer was 78.00m (255.91 feet) becoming the third best in the USA All-Time and the sixth best in the World All-Time. This throw in May was named the USATF Athlete of the Week honors. Janee’ was the 2022 Indoor National weight throw Champion and the 2022 Outdoor National runner-up in the hammer throw. Closing out the 2022 season, claiming the GOLD medal as the NACAC Champion in the hammer throw. As an elite athlete competing on the biggest stages; the main goal is to inspire and empower the next generation of athletes. She is continuing to break barriers, to be a leader and pave the way for youth, women, and fellow natives both on and off the field and to create spaces where we never thought were possible before. Photos: 2022 World Athletics Track and Field Championship Hammer Throw Bronze Medalist First Indigenous Woman to medal at the World Athletics Track & Field Championships; Photographer: Getty Images <Back

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