Arlotta is recognized with the Spirit of the People Award (Photo Credit: Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce)
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Andy Arlotta, Co-Owner and Vice President of the Minnesota Swarm, has been named the recipient of the Spirit of the People Award, which is presented annually by the Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce (MAICC).
Every year, the Spirit of the People Award recognizes one recipient who brought people together to promote and utilize the gifts of individuals and organizations to enhance, heal and strengthen American Indian Communities in Minnesota.
“Andy Arlotta is passionate about making a difference, and his dedication to returning the sport of lacrosse to its American Indian founders has created life-changing experiences for Native American youth across the state of Minnesota,” said Jon Otto, Chairman of the Board for the Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce. “His commitment of time and resources has given those who are underprivileged an opportunity to experience the excitement of a sport created by their ancestors and a life lesson that anyone can be successful if they just have confidence in themselves … Andy truly represents the Spirit of the People.”
Since becoming co-owner of the Swarm in 2008, Arlotta has worked closely with local Tribal Leaders to develop youth lacrosse programs in effort to help restore the tradition of the sport to American Indian Communities in Minnesota. His work with local Native Communities earned national recognition at the White House this past July during First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! In Indian Country initiative.
“I’d like to thank the Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce for presenting me with this prestigious award,” Arlotta said. “This is the highest honor I have ever received in my professional career.”
Arlotta went on to add, “Early on in our initiative, we focused on reintroducing the sport of lacrosse to the Native Communities in Minnesota. We soon realized that it was having a far greater impact in the community and that we had an opportunity to use the sport of lacrosse to not only impact the youth’s lives in a positive way, but to also to bring the entire Native Community together as a whole.”
Programs that Arlotta has helped establish include a year-round youth lacrosse program in the Prairie Island Indian Community and Lax-4-Life, a weeklong summer lacrosse camp designed specifically for boys and girls from American Indian Communities in Minnesota that is held on the Fond du Lac Reservation. Because of Arlotta’s efforts in the Prairie Island Indian Community, a competitive youth team now participates year-round in multiple lacrosse leagues in the Twin Cities, and became the only Native American team to compete on the youth level in lacrosse in Minnesota. Native Communities that have attended Lax-4-Life at no cost the past two years include: Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Prairie Island Indian Community, Little Earth of United Tribes, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Red Lake Band of Chippewa, and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
These two programs not only teach the tradition and game play of lacrosse, but also teach life skills, such as the importance of education, healthy living and abstinence from drugs, alcohol and violence.
In addition, Arlotta and the Swarm have established a Native American Heritage Night, which is held annually during the Swarm’s home opener to recognize the history and tradition of the game. It also honors local tribal communities and features a traditional American Indian lacrosse match at halftime. Minnesota will host this year’s Native American Heritage Night during its home opener against the Buffalo Bandits on Saturday, January 28 at 7 p.m. CT on Treasure Island Field at Xcel Energy Center.