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KOSU is committed to being more reflective of the audiences we serve. In Oklahoma, having stories reported by Indigenous reporters for Native communities is imperative. KOSU's Indigenous Affairs reporting is led by Allison Herrera.

Oklahoma's only tribally owned hoops team the Potawatomi Fire to make 2023 season home debut

Nate Billings / Citizen Potawatomi Nation
The Fire Lake Arena, home of the Potawatomi Fire. Citizen Potawatomi Nation installed a new basketball court, updated the scoreboard and remodeled the changing and locker rooms to accommodate the TBL team last year. The squad tip off for their first home game Friday night.

The Potawatomi Fire are back.

Oklahoma's first tribally owned basketball team is off to a strong start in their second season. So far, the squad based in Shawnee has won its first three games on the road.

They tip off tonight with their home opener against the Rockwall 7-ers at the Fire Lake Arena at 7 p.m.

The fire is led by last season's The Basketball League (TBL) Most Valuable Player Deshawn Munson. Munson is averaging 18 points and 14 rebounds a game.

New coach Mark Dannhoff wants to improve upon last season's results after the Fire was knocked out of the TBL semifinals by the Shreveport Mavericks.

"In terms of our success for the entire year and the season, we're trying to take it one step at a time and we kind of picture it as a staircase," Dannhoff said. "And each game is a different step."

The Potawatomi Fire is the first tribally owned sports team in Oklahoma, and one of only a handful of professional teams owned by tribal nations in the U.S. The Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut owns both the Connecticut Sun in the Women’s National Basketball Association and the New England Black Wolves in the National Lacrosse League.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation and the city of Shawnee say the new sports team is aimed at bringing jobs and entertainment dollars to the area, while appeasing basketball fans who may not be able to make it to an Oklahoma City Thunder game.

The tribal nation's leaders hope the Fire will continue the squad's success now and well into the future. Last year, Longtime Citizen Potawatomi Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett told KOSU the squad would be part of his nation's economic development plan for years to come.

"Indian tribes have a tendency to take a seven-generation view," Barrett said.


Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
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