Racial incident at Harding County School addressed
By Christina Rose
Staff writer, Native Sun News
CHERRY CREEK — Takini High School students playing an away basketball game at Harding County High School in Buffalo were allegedly subjected to racial slurs. “It was the adults, the fans,” Acting Superintendent of the Takini School, Francine Hall said. “Where the cheerleaders sat, the fans were making all kinds of comments, and then ‘prairie nigger’ came out. It was the fans who said it.”
The February 22 game continued uninterrupted as the players were unaware of the comments. However, a dinner that had been prepared by the Harding County High School team for the Takini students was forgone because of escalated tensions between the students.
Harding County Superintendent Ruth Krogh said that from what she could determine, racially charged words were spoken on the playground by a 10 year-old girl. “We are not certain what was said,” Krogh said, adding that she had also heard supportive comments, including that the Takini School had a hard playing team.
Krogh, a graduate of Sinte Gleska College on the Rosebud Reservation, said she was deeply saddened by the incident. “I don't want hard feelings on either side. We need to build good relationships,” she said.
During the conference between Hall and Krogh, diversity training was discussed and Krogh has invited Diversity Speaker Richie Plass, Menominee/Stockbridge Munsee from Wisconsin, who will also present an exhibit that shows the history of discrimination of Native Americans to the Harding students.
According to Plass, whose exhibit and presentation has been shown in museums and universities across the country, the key to better relations between Native Americans and non-natives is education.
“What happened there is one of the general issues I face a lot,” Plass said. “It’s a layer of behavior that isn’t taught in the classroom, but if they hear it, see it, or feel it at home and in places like the game, there is a reaction where they say, Oh, I can say that. It’s important to remind them that we are a living culture, and in a positive way, teach those students how to deal with these incidents.”
Both Superintendents Hall and Krogh said the investigations were ongoing and that to their knowledge no students from either of those schools had participated in any racist actions.
Hall said that incidents like this happen from time to time, and she cited other situations where the events called for deeper investigation, such as filing reports with the Department of Justice. Hall did not feel that at this time the actions warranted such an investigation.
Another game was planned for the following Monday night at the same location. The Takini students, who had been addressed by the Tribal Chairman Joseph Brings Plenty during the school’s Drum Ceremony on Monday morning, were escorted on Monday afternoon by the Tribal Chairman and Tribal Officers, “so that they felt safe,” Hall said.
On the Tuesday morning after the second game, Krogh reported that there were no further incidents and said, “I was so pleased with the Resource Officer, so full of jokes and laughs. Things were a little strained at first, no one was sure what to expect from each other, but as the evening wore on things relaxed.”
(Contact Christina Rose at email@example.com)
Copyright permission by Native Sun News