Stone Child College is the headquarters 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 language, culture and history of the Chippewa Cree through its foundational teachings and opportunities. Recently, opportunities have multiplied on campus.
In July 2022, a few students who enjoyed playing video games together formed the school’s first varsity esports team. Esports is a form of competitive gaming via a personal computer in which teams, both collegiate and professional from across the country, battle for supremacy online. There are often cash prizes at stake for great champions. It is one of the fastest growing team sports in the country.
As far as the country goes, the members of the Bear Paws E-Sports team are one of the only Native American teams in existence.
“I don’t think I’ve seen any other Native American schools, so I scrolled down. I think there are 120 schools participating and none of them are Native American schools other than ours, and most of them are four-year colleges like Boise State and California-Irvine,” explains the team’s volunteer director, Jennifer Duncan.
Funded by the college, the team has access to professional equipment, custom jerseys and Bear Paws merchandise.
A brand new team, players are still working on issues in an effort to really prepare 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 improved a lot, so I think we can compete with some of those other teams,” said team member Trey Trahant.
These other teams, eclipse Stone Child College, and include 4-year colleges like Clemson and Oregon, all with higher funds and larger enrollments. But that hasn’t stopped this group from picking up early wins on their way to what they hope will be a prosperous future.
“I’m very proud to be here, especially as one of the only Native American esports teams in the country. It’s something younger generations can look up to and follow in our footsteps,” says Joey Davis III, team member.