The following is an open letter from Donna Thompson, tribal member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, provided courtesy of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Public Affairs Office. The letter has specific addressees of Ty Jones, Executive Director of the Idaho High School Athletic Association; James Doramus, Superintendent of the Salmon River School District; and Paula Tucker, Athletic Director/Girls Basketball Coach for the Salmon River District
FORT HALL, March 15, 2019 — This letter is in reference to a game I attended on February 15, 2019 between the Sho-Ban Lady Chiefs and Salmon River “Savages.” Please consider this an official compliant about the way the Lady Chiefs basketball players/fans were treated by the Salmon River players/fans/parents and the referees.
Our Sho-Ban Lady Chiefs players were subject to racism on the court and from the crowd. On several occasions during the basketball game our players were subject to racial taunts. Two players from the Salmon River Savages made racial statements to our girls to go back to the Reservation where they belong because they didn’t belong off the reservation (Nampa). Also, several of our fans were subject to racial taunts from the Salmon River parents/fans.
A news reporter for the Blackfoot Morning News was in the stands next to the Salmon River fans (behind their bench) and heard all the racist taunts coming from their fans. The editor and staff of the Sho-Ban News heard these insults as well. Also, the referees allowed this despicable behavior to happen by not warning the Salmon River players for their poor sportsmanship/racist behavior toward our girls. The referees also added fuel to this racist fire by fouling out our top three players.
In this day and age, why is racism still alive and well in Idaho? How can we fix this so this doesn’t happen again in the future? It seems like every time one of our basketball teams participates in the state tournament they are subject to racism? This happens in every instance our students participate in state activities. When is this going to stop? What steps can be taken to help stop this from happening again?
For one, a written apology from the Salmon River “Savages” school district administrator/girls basketball coach to right the wrong committed by their players and fans. This apology needs to be addressed to the Sho-Ban Lady Chiefs and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. This would go a long way in helping stomp out this ugly epidemic called racism! Also, all referees should be required to take a cultural sensitivity training before officiating any games. There are many steps we can all take to stamp out this ugly practice.
I feel that any comments made towards any student on race or color is unnecessary and inexcusable.Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and hopefully something positive comes from this. I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Donna Thompson, Tribal Member