Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District looking into allegations of racial insensitivity during high school basketball game

Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 9:15 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A high school boys basketball game this past Saturday night between Ketchikan and Metlakatla continues to receive attention for what happened off the court, rather than on it.

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District is investigating allegations of racial insensitivity during the game, after photos from the game posted online showed a group of students dressed up in cowboy hats, cowboy boots and flannel shirts.

Latonya Galles attended last Saturday’s game in Ketchikan to cheer on her son, who plays for the Metlakatla Chiefs. She felt the students were dressed up as cowboys, and felt that was culturally inappropriate as the entire Metlakatla team is Tsimshian.

“It was just really, really bad, and racism was definitely present,” Galles said over the phone. “... Even if it was planned a month ago or if it was planned last minute, it was like a deliberate slap in the face to us.”

The school district posted on social media on Saturday that it was “looking into” the situation and would take “all appropriate actions to ensure our schools and students uphold the highest standard of sportsmanship, respect, and hospitality.” Ketchikan High School also apologized on social media on Sunday for “the cultural insensitivity” at the game.

On Monday, Superintendent Melissa Johnson said the Ketchikan High School pep squad told the district they had scheduled a “country theme” night for their game against Metlakatla, an Alaska Native community located on Annette Island 20 miles south of Ketchikan, and Alaska’s only Indian reserve.

Ketchikan High School would like to extend a sincere apology to our community and to our friends, family, and neighbors...

Posted by Ketchikan High School on Sunday, February 6, 2022

During the game, Galles said it was especially bad when the Chiefs were at the free-throw line and students in the stands began to make weird noises.

“... What we experienced in that gym was not OK, it was not OK,” she said. “And I have every Native, Haida, Tsimshian, and Tlingit standing behind me.”

Johnson told Alaska’s News Source over the phone that no students have been disciplined and they’re still investigating what happened at the game. She added that they’ve been working with the superintendent from Metlakatla.

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