Administrator Jonathan Braack presents gifts to Tucker Louie McGee (center) and Wade McGee (left) at the Sho-Ban High School assembly October 12.
By LORI ANN EDMO
FORT HALL — Have you made your ancestors proud today?
That is the question Native Elite 1 Inc. motivational speaker and athletic trainer Wade McGee asked Shoshone-Bannock Jr./Sr. High School students October 12 at an assembly where his son Tucker Louie McGee, an Idaho State University football player, also presented.
Wade McGee asked questions of the students to determine their knowledge of their ancestors or tribal history. Among the questions he asked were who is the city of Pocatello named after? When was the Fort Bridger Treaty signed? How many people were killed in the Bear River Massacre? Wade urged the students to be quiet throughout the assembly but especially during the Bear River question because the blood of our people is on this land. Someone died so you could be here, someone paid the ultimate price, he said. “Think about that.” He also asked why the Bannock War started and what is next to Holt Arena?
Sho-Ban student Sincere Martin answered the question about the Bannock War saying settler’s pigs were eating up the camas and that is how it started.
Wade McGee encouraged the students to learn about their identity, “We can’t forget who we are and what price our ancestors paid for us to be here – they went through hardships way harder.” Starvation, being forced here and there, along with being forced into a sedentary lifestyle are some things our ancestors faced. “I always think about our ancestors,” he continued as they fished, hunted, subsisted then all of a sudden were forced into one spot. “They paid a price higher than we have to, the problems we deal with that is why our motto ‘Have you made your ancestors proud today’ – can work hard to be successful.”
He is the owner of Native Elite 1 Inc. a non-profit that motivates, trains athletes and teaches success. He also does diabetes education. Wade asked the students to determine who they are, change the way they think and also whether they have courage? He said the students can make many choices a day and it shouldn’t involve drugs, alcohol or parties. He also asked the students what is their dream? He is from the Cherokee Nation from Oklahoma, played football for Oklahoma State University until an injury sidelined him. Later he attended Haskell Indian Junior College where he met his wife Debbie Louie-McGee from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. He’s lived in the Northwest for 30 years. His wife is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and was the first woman to go to embassy guard training school. She was the starting point guard on the Haskell women’s basketball team. The two connected.
Wade McGee said being successful starts with longevity and nutrition and one has to learn to work out. He also wanted to know the students expectation levels, along with their hopes and dreams.
Students greet the guest speakers after the presentation.
He and his wife Debbie have three sons – Tucker, Jerry and Kenny and they’re very proud of them. Tucker plays football for Idaho State University, Jerry plays University of Montana football and Kenny plays basketball for Wenatchee Valley College. They encouraged their sons to set dreams and goals, to focus on their culture and identity. Doing that created accountability, he continued. “They worked really hard, held themselves accountable to achieve goals.”
Tucker Louie-McGee said in an interview to set dreams as high as you possibly can, “It’s not going to be easy,” do things that make you stronger and get better prepared for life. He said life is going to knock you down but just get back up and keep pushing through. When he would come home frustrated from school she wouldn’t’ take pity on him, she would ask him how you going to fight through it?
He’s studying business management and marketing at ISU and is working on becoming a graduate assistant on the football team. If he doesn’t make it to the National Football League (NFL), he would like to become a college coach, or be a manager at his tribe’s casino or start his own business to help his tribe. Tucker said his experience playing football at ISU has been great – the team hasn’t been doing that well the last couple of years but is improving with a new coach. When asked about playing against his brother Jerry, he said it’s always fun, they talk a little bit back and forth and they’ve never really played against each other until college.
Tucker’s advice to youth is to always keep pushing, get in the weight room and always focus on academics.
Wade McGee said he’s proud of his boys, as they’ve come from the rez. They get so much negative as some think they’re better than them but it’s not about that. “I just want them to be as great as they can be and help their people,” he said. “If they don’t make it to pro I can’t be prouder – I just want them to get that degree.”
The two did various exercises with the Sho-Ban students including practicing an athletic stance, demonstrating support for one another while some students did push ups and another in a wall stance.
Tucker Louie McGee takes a selfie with the Sho-Ban School crowd.
Sho-Ban High School administrator Jonathan Braack said the assembly was an effective success. “The students have been talking about the things they learned still days later.” He said one of the common themes of students talking about the assembly is the two men have them thinking about how to honor their ancestors, how to rise above the challenges of life and to take their place as members of their tribe. “Wade and Tucker hit home to many of our students,” he continued. “One of our students commented that it’s about time for him to take his place as a male and a young man.” The other day in the hallway, one of the male students told some other kids to be nice to the girls and treat them with respect. “Tucker and Wade were being serious you guys.”
Braack said as the administrator, he had the privilege to be present for the entire assembly. “I observed first hand, virtually all of the students quiet and riveted to them during the assembly and during their team building activities on the floor.” These two good men made a lasting difference in our students, he continued. “The kids are still thinking, still figuring out how those messages apply to them, how to make goals for themselves. They are touched by the McGee’s. I see it here.”
He said the McGee’s would be returning in the spring for a day to do small break out sessions with the students on goal setting and accountability. “The fact that the McGee’s are from a tribe as well and referenced many cultural examples really hit home for our students,” he said. The staff here sees it, too, they took their students back to class and for several days since have been discussing with the kids what they the kids took away from the assembly. “ We look forward to the McGee’s returning to our students in the spring.”