"If you attack Vashon, it will look like 'the system' is coming down on poor black kids once again."

Week of November 9, 2006

Feature, October 26, 2006

Nothing But Net

We knew it: Kristen Hinman's "Basketball by the Book" confirms what colleagues and myself have known for years. Donald Davis Jr., named in the article, was a student in my district for years. He attended middle school a stone's throw away from the address listed in Charlack. I have seen Donald around town and kind of questioned him about playing at Vashon. The first thing out of his mouth is his so-called residency on University Drive. It's almost like these kids have been coached on what to say.

These people have been cheating for years and I'm glad that someone has had courage enough to bring it to light. I would also like to see the academic-eligibility side of some of these players looked into (not mentioned in the article). This proves all along that Mr. Irons is not looking out for the welfare of his players — just himself.

Keep up the good work!
G. Martinez, St. Louis

It's time something was done: How far back does this go? Is it fairly safe to assume that this was the practice all along, or within the first few years of Irons' reign? If so, shouldn't all their championships be stripped? Enough rhetoric; everyone's known this for years — it's time something was done.

They didn't hesitate stripping Pembroke Hill's titles a few years back when they used the ineligible Rush brothers. Oh, but that's a rich, private Kansas City school, which won't make too many political waves. If you attack Vashon, it will look like "the system" is coming down on poor black kids once again.

I played on a team that lost to Anthony Bonner in the state championship game, and they looked like they were all nineteen years old (some actually were). All five starters went Division I. That just doesn't happen in a normal neighborhood high school. Like I said, everyone knew.
Jim Sheedy, Kansas City

News Real, October 26, 2006

Indian Trouble

Show empathy, but be honest: In regard to Chad Garrison's "Going Native," I agree with Kathy Dickerson: If you are not from an indigenous group, don't pretend to be one, because "real Native Americans" can see the fakeness through your actions. We are happy to share our dances through intertribal dancing, but don't try to pass off as a real Native American if you're not. At our powwow we prohibit "gimmick" toys and anything that may be offensive to the tribe. We also advise the vendors about the American Indian Arts and Crafts act.

I'm a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. (Although this letter is my personal opinion and not necessarily that of my tribe.) I have also gone through the period when it was not popular to be an Indian and was kicked out of a drugstore, so I understand Dickerson's stand. Show empathy, but be honest!
Harold Comby, Philadelphia, Mississippi

We're out there: Who's Indian? I agree about the problem of wannabes and people taking advantage of what they have no right to and making a circus of culture while profiting economically. However, I need to stand up for a small minority of we "white Indians" who stand in the background, despising these wannabes but having no real say-so in the matter, appearing to be white ourselves. This minority of people have spent their whole lives either raised with or living side-by-side with Indian people and have participated in their culture. Many of us are a quarter or an eighth blood and you can't see it.

I am blonde and blue-eyed; my one grandfather is Cherokee — Osage from Oklahoma. My wife is full-blood Taos Pueblo; her daughter's daughter is blonde and blue just like Grandpa (me). A few white people I know have spent many years with native people and have adopted many of their ways, and the people accept those people as one of their own due to the merit of their life and service to those people.

Just remember we are out there. Our hearts are native and nobody can change that.
Ed Sarten, Ruby, Alaska

Enough with the wannabes: The fact that Dolores Santha altered her birth certificate to indicate her parents' race as "red" is attested to by the vital records section of the Michigan Department of Community Health. When I sent them a copy of the document for verification, they replied that "[t]he race of the parents on the copy you provided does not match the race shown on the original record." Not mentioned in Garrison's article is the "enrollment" card Santha uses in addition to the altered birth certificate. Anyone can purchase one of these cards from the National American Indian Enrollment Agency in New Mexico, for $25. The fellow selling these worthless cards has made at least $165,000 from his questionable practice.

What matters most is not "where your heart is" but what one does to continue the stereotyping of the American Indian and the twisting of cultures and traditions. While most of these folks might be sincere, they are nonetheless causing damage to a people who have endured hundreds of years of governmental genocide, assimilation policies, stereotyping and discrimination of all types.

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