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Minnesota National Guard
LAX-4-LIFE partnership teaches Lacrosse, leadership and life skills to Native American Youth

Minnesota National Guard FOND DU LAC, Minn- The Minnesota Army National Guard, Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa and Minnesota Swarm brought Lacrosse back to the Tribal Communities by partnering up and hosting the fourth annual LAX-4-LIFE Lacrosse Camp at Fond du Lac Reservation from July 22 to 26 The four-day camp culminated with the final scrimmage broadcast live via the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System and attended by several distinguished visitors, including Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Maj Gen Richard C Nash and WCCO sports reporter and anchor Mike Max

"We have a vested interest in youth," Nash said "We're up here talking about leadership, life skills and being role models in the community - that's something the National Guard can help with"

Soldiers from the neighboring armory in Cloquet and the Recruiting and Retention Battalion staffed the event for the second year, providing a climbing wall and an inflatable obstacle course, as well as leading classes on drug and alcohol use, suicide prevention and setting goals Three professional lacrosse players with the Minnesota Swarm participated as counselors for the nearly 50 campers

"We have been coming up here to bring Lacrosse back to the reservation and introduce them to something that is their heritage," said Minnesota Swarm co-owner and vice president Andy Arlotta "However, it quickly became about saving lives"

The camp is just one of many ways the Fond du Lac tribal community has been working to improve lives by offering a healthy alternative to problems that affect native American communities Most recently, construction of the Fond du Lac Veterans Supportive Housing building was completed, providing ten units for Native American Vietnam veterans struggling with homelessness and chemical dependency

"This is a permanent solution," Fond du Lac Tribal Government Chairwoman Karen R Diver said while showing the new construction to Nash and the other distinguished guests "If you make it too big you're managing social problems instead of doing case management

"We have the finest facilities; other tribes will tell you the same," said Diver "We're proud to be ahead of the curve"

Following the visit to the new housing unit, Diver brought the group to the Cultural Center and Museum, where photos of dozens of Native Americans in uniform covered the walls The visitors then watched the youth play the final scrimmage of the camp before they departed via Black Hawk helicopter

The chopper rose and slowly circled, catching a last bit of action from high above - a height that the spirit of the campers effortlessly matched while playing their ancestor's game

July 31, 2013
by Staff Sgt Patrick Loch
34th Infantry Division Public Affairs



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