Following up on the Emmy© award winner The House that Rob Built about the legendary women’s college basketball coach Rob Selvig, Native Ball focuses on one Lady Griz member who became a trailblazer for her entire community. This transforming story by Family Theater Productions about Barbara “Malia” Kipp, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, proves that determination and acceptance bring out the best in the human spirit. Produced by the fabulous filmmaking team of Megan Harrington, a former Lady Griz along with Malia, and John Cipiti (Dating Project, Pray: The Story of Fr Patrick Peyton, House that Rob Built), Native Ball is the latest of their creations to inspire and uplift audiences to seek the good, true, and beautiful.
Growing up on the reservation in Browning, Montana, Malia is the oldest of her family and the first to go to college. The 27-minute film brilliantly captures the essence of her life on the reservation where drugs and alcohol claim the lives of many young people. A record-breaking athlete throughout high school, Malia becomes the first Native American female to receive a full Division 1 college basketball scholarship. Never having left the Blackfeet reservation, traveling to Missoula to attend the University of Montana was a significant move for Malia. As her tribal chief said, “You’re entering into the white man’s world and you gotta learn their ways but also hold onto what you’re brought up on.”
© 2023 Family Theater Productions. All rights reserved.
Malia, thankfully, found Coach Selvig to be culturally sensitive and helped her to feel part of the team. She was surprised to see that he had books in his office about Native Americans. She believes that the more we learn about others the less prejudice we would have in our country. Rob’s support leads her to become a star, though she struggled to be accepted at the University. On the court, Malia wears a feather in her braid as a tribute to her Native American heritage.
When she completed her time as a Lady Griz, the Blackfeet tribal elders made the near four-hour trip to honor her at her last game with their tribal chants and received a standing ovation by the entire community. This was the most moving moment of the film that shows that Malia’s hopes for human understanding and acceptance is possible. Her record-breaking achievements continued when she becomes the first woman to be inducted in the Montana Indian Athlete Hall of Fame and subsequently inspires generations of other Native American young women to pursue their dreams.
Malia Kipp as Lady Griz then and now © 2023 Family Theater Productions. All rights reserved.
This beautiful and heartfelt short film speaks to the need for loving understanding among peoples and hope for those who seek to overcome life's challenging circumstances. Malia’s life inspires others to step into the unknown with courage and be surprised by what comes of life when we believe in our God-given gifts and the good in others.
See this amazing story premiering on PBS nationwide starting November 1st. See here a list of PBS stations airing Native Ball.