Martin Waukazoo, Chief Executive Officer of Native American Health Center, has recently been inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame. His former high school basketball coach, David F. Strain, wrote a very compelling nomination for Martin’s induction which is excerpted below.
“Marty Waukazoo is the greatest basketball player that I have had the opportunity to coach. Among his achievements, Martin Waukazoo made both the All-State and All-Tournament teams and was voted the MVP award in 1967’s State ‘A’ tournament. He was selected as one of the ‘Top 100 High School Basketball Players in the Nation’ by Coach and Athlete Magazine and Royal Crown Cola Company who polled basketball coaches and sports writers in 50 States who nominated and considered 100,000 boys.
The first American Indian in South Dakota to be selected All American (1967), Martin Waukazoo is listed in Rapid City Journal’s (August 2011) All Time South Dakota Boys Basketball Records in both Class AA Single Game Scoring (Individual) and Top Scoring Games in South Dakota Cage History.
Martin Waukazoo was the leading scorer for the Rapid City Cobbler’s 1966 basketball team as a Junior. The Cobblers that year were voted the Number 1 Class ‘A’ Team at the end of the season. The Cobblers then finished as Consolation Champions in the post season State ‘A’ Tournament in 1966.
He was the only returning letterman starter from the 1966 team in his senior year when the 1966-67 season opened for Rapid City High School. In the 1967 Class ‘A’ opening game against the Miller Rustlers, Martin Waukazoo set an opening State ‘A’ tournament scoring record of 36 points against a fine Miller Rustler basketball team to start the 1967 State ‘A’ tournament.
As a child and young man, Martin Waukazoo was inspired by his American Indian maternal uncles Wilbur and Speck Blacksmith, both very impressive basketball players with the legendary semi-pro league, the Sioux Travelers. Growing up, Indian athletes were among my own heroes, as our community of White River enjoyed watching the highly skilled and enthusiastic American Indian players from the Rosebud Reservation 10 miles away.
As a high school basketball coach for over 40 years, I worked to promote strong teams inclusive of Rapid City’s White and American Indian players. I have been credited with helping to open the gate for American Indian players to enter competitive basketball, and while I am proud of this effort, if I did help to open any gate, it was Martin Waukazoo who walked through it!
With his great achievements in high school basketball, Martin Waukazoo enjoyed a blaze of glory. He went on to distinguish himself in college basketball at Black Hills State, and today is the Chief Executive Officer of the Native American Health Center, a large multi-County program in California providing health care for American Indians. He is happily married to Helen Devore Waukazoo and father of 3, grandfather of 3 and great grandfather of 2.
I nominate Martin Waukazoo for the High School Basketball Hall of Fame to honor and preserve for all time the memory of this young man’s notable and exemplary achievements as a high school basketball star. I believe that Martin Waukazoo would be honored and proud to be represented in the South Dakota Basketball Hall of Fame.”