2017-12-21 / Front Page

Chants lead to teaching moment

At Glen Lake
By Jay Bushen
Sports Editor

A lapse in judgment on behalf of two Glen Lake students during a high school basketball game last Thursday was not received well from school staff or members of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians.

The students’ outbursts, however, are turning into a learning moment.

The incidents took place in the early stages of a boys basketball game between Glen Lake and visiting Suttons Bay.

Every time a standout Suttons Bay player — a Native American student — possessed the ball, two students from the Glen Lake student section heckled him with Native American war calls.

Suttons Bay coach Ron Anderson, himself a member of the Grand Traverse Band, said he made Glen Lake Athletic Director Jennifer Johnston aware of the situation.

The students were promptly escorted out of the gym.

“It’s a tough situation,” Anderson said. “I have to protect my kids. Being the head coach of the varsity basketball team, it’s my intention to make sure all kids feel safe. ... From my standpoint, everything was taken care of and handled by the Glen Lake staff.”

The students are writing open letters of apology to the Suttons Bay player, Glen Lake Superintendent Sander Scott said this week.

“Obviously, we feel that’s conduct unbecoming a Laker,” said Scott, who grew up in Northport and led the Wildcats to the 1988 Class D state basketball title. “Suttons Bay schools and members of the tribe are our Leelanau County neighbors. We need to be better than that, and we’re holding the kids accountable.

“There’s a punishment component and an educational component to that. ... We certainly regret that it happened. Now we have to do our jobs as adults and educators to not only hold the kids accountable but also educate the kids nearby.”

Scott said he’s made phone calls to the Grand Traverse Band in hopes of carrying out the educational side. He’s hoping that Tribal members will speak to Glen Lake students about their heritage and the prejudice shown to Native Americans.

Suttons Bay Athletic Director Doug Periard said the Suttons Bay school district received a written apology from Glen Lake Community Schools — and that the apology will be accepted.

“We’re glad to see Glen Lake responded quickly,” Periard said.

Tribal member Ed John of Northport, who did not attend the game, said word spread quickly among Native Americans.

The behavior of the Glen Lake students was an issue, John said. He was proud of the restraint shown by Suttons Bay players.

“The boys didn’t let it get to them,” John said. “They let other people deal with it, which I thought was great. But no kid should have to deal with that.”

John said he sees the incident as a learning opportunity for kids not only in Leelanau County but across the region.

“It shouldn’t be happening,” John said.

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