Dreamcatchers take center stage at the annual Nike N7 Aztecs | Basketball Game News Center | SDSU

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

SDSU is highlighting Native women and girls for the eighth year in recognition of Native American Heritage Month.

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

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

Indigenous leaders and communities were honored by SDSU during the N7 game, including the DreamCatchers, a cheerleading team made up of indigenous women from Southern California tribal communities.

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

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

Eight cheerleaders represented the DreamCatchers in the game, along with Head Coach Lisa Becerra and Assistant Coach Audrey Freeman.

Brought together by cheerleading, girls ranging from 4 to 12 years of age were the night’s main performers. After months of practice and practice, 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 a young age. Many of the team members were returning students and performed at Viejas Arena with crowds for the first time since the pandemic.

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

The N7 Fund was established in 2009 by Nike to “get youth in Native American and Indigenous communities​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​in North America to move,” reaching out to universities with strong Indigenous​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ In celebration of Native American Heritage Month and the mission of N7, Nike is sponsoring a basketball game in November that honors 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 N7 game in 2022 was on Tuesday, Nov. 29, against UC Irvine, which the Aztecs won 72-69. Players wore turquoise colored uniforms, a symbol of friendship and fellowship in indigenous cultures. The SDSU Men’s Basketball team is currently selling the used jerseys, with all proceeds benefiting ITS, the SDSU Native Resource Center, and the Native American Student Alliance. The auction ends at 5 p.m. Wednesday, December 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.

“After graduation they can take those skills to life and become future leaders in all of our tribal communities,” Thompson added, seeing the organization as one that “gives the power of sport and the power of movement to r all the children we serve.”

“We are grateful that a large corporation and a large university like Nike and San Diego State are giving our community a chance to be seen,” said Thompson.

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