Words from an Indigenous, 37-year-old, cis female interviewee living in the North Central Region of the U.S.:
Racism has been a part of my existence since I was a very small child. Always something I've had to be cognizant about as a young woman, young athlete. I have "Situational Racism Awareness."... We would have to go to the bigger cities. We would have to travel an hour or two or more to go and play these teams. We were all Native athletes because we were on the Reservation, and we would travel to these non-Native schools that had really good athlete teams. We would not only get harassed on the court by the players, but we would get harassed by the coaches, the refs, and the parents even sometimes. We would have incidents in our locker rooms where traveling teams would come into our home community and just trash our locker rooms; or vice versa, we would go to another area and we'd come after the game and we'd go into the locker room and all our stuff would be thrown about. We've had rocks thrown at our bus, broken windows, spray paint, like just different things like that, and so we were always on high alert mode all the time.
My first experience when I started working at the school district was when a mother had called and her son was forbidden from wearing his eagle feather on his graduation cap. They had went to the school, they had respectfully requested. The principal was "absolutely not."... The mom contacted me, she had another son graduating in two years and did not want the same thing to happen to him. So we got to work right away...We started a campaign of messaging different legislators, talking to different administrators, high school principals, and organized a whole campaign, and we were successful. We got the resolution passed -- well, actually it as a "procedure" -- they were very specific about the language.... What we had in our back pocket was their legal team had said if you don't pass this, you're gonna have a social media storm on your hands that you don't want. This was prior to George Floyd and Standing Rock, and I was, "Wow, do we really have that type of influence?" They knew we had that influence, we just didn't know we had it.