MINOT, N.D. — When I was in high school, I attended a Class B basketball tournament championship game in Minot. One of the teams playing was from a Native American community. I think it was Belcourt, but my memory may be failing me.
High school was a long time ago for me.
What I do remember, clearly, was the racism. The tomahawk chops. The scalping gestures. The racial epithets. It came from the student cheering sections, yes, but from the adults too. It could plainly be heard during the game in the Minot State University dome, but it was worse in the parking lot after the game, where crowds of people jeered the Native American attendees, many of whom were giving as good as they were getting. Fights broke out. Beer bottles were thrown.
The ugliness I witnessed that day has stayed with me. I’ve never forgotten it. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot as I read headlines about more recent incidents of racism at youth sporting events. At a recent basketball game between Jamestown and Bismarck, fans jeered a Black player with the N-word and monkey pantomimes . They made scalping gestures at a Native American player.