Yet another under-reported hate crime

The Quinault nation has some of the most beautiful land in the country, a long strip of the coast of Washington state. It’s one of my favorite places to visit, and if I had my druthers I’d be there right now. Heck, I’d be there all the time, although as a non-Native I’d probably have to live a little further south, like my brother who lives near Grays Harbor. But I’d visit those beaches frequently!

But don’t be fooled. Like everywhere in the country, hate is rising, and Indians are one of the targets.

Hate crimes or abusive behavior against Native Americans, while rarely gaining much public attention, appear to be quite common. According to a joint 2017 study by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard University, 39 percent of Native Americans surveyed reported they had experienced offensive comments about their race or ethnicity. Meanwhile, 34 percent said they or a family member had experienced violence for being Native.

Barbara Perry, who conducted one of the first national studies on hate crimes against Native Americans, said few of these kinds of incidents ever get formally reported to the authorities. Perry said victims have grown weary of being ignored or seeing their cases bungled.

“They’ve come to the point where they don’t see the value in reporting,” said Perry, who has written a book on hate crimes against Native Americans and is a chairperson for the International Network for Hate Studies.

Read the whole story, which focuses on the murder of Jimmy Smith-Kramer, a Quinault native who was intentionally run over by a drunk white man in a pick-up truck. The attitude seems to be part of American culture.

In 2013, the Quinault Nation sued several local school districts, accusing them of discriminating against tribal students by dissolving the local athletics league and barring tribal teams from competing in local athletic contests. The exclusion was not only a racist snub, the tribe alleged, it damaged the chances of tribal athletes in the Taholah School District of being seen by college scouts looking to sign up scholarship athletes. The banning of tribal teams came after years of the athletes enduring taunts and slurs.

The suit alleged that dissolving the athletics league violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, as well as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits agencies that receive federal money from discriminating on the basis of gender, race, color or national origin.

“The racial harassment and disparate treatment to which Taholah student-athletes have been subjected is severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive,” the suit claimed.

According to the suit, tribal children had been called “dirty Indians,” “wagon burners” and “sand niggers” at games hosted by Mary M. Knight High School, a defendant school where the student body was 93.9 percent white.

The schools are where the problem is expressed early. What is wrong with these kids? What is wrong with their parents?


  1. says

    This shit has been going on ever since the colonists showed up. Oh, the proper term here in ND is “prairie N-word”. I used to write aggressively about such matters, like the highest percentage of extrajudicial killings are of Indigenous people. Very few people know that, and even less want to find out. People simply do not give one shit.

    Between always having at least one clueless white person show up in any given thread, and no one else much caring, I simply stopped writing about these issues.

  2. says

    When a nation is built on slaughtering the inhabitants that were already here, it must be hard not to think of them as interlopers on their own land.

    Also, the treatment of actual Native people puts the lie to the claim that all those sports teams that use them as mascots is “honouring” them.

  3. rayceeya says

    Back when I was a little college freshman in the early 2000s I was living in Klamath Falls, OR and in 2001 there was a major water shortage. Bureau of reclamation shut off the irrigation water to the farms in order to save the lake. Some of the kids from those farms got it in their heads that it was the fault of the local Indian tribes. They blamed the Klamaths and the Modocs for their hardship and decided to take it out on them. So they grabbed their guns, loaded up in their trucks and headed for Chiloquin, the local native american town and started shooting.

    Bloody miracle nobody got hurt. The governor sent in the National Guard to keep the peace. Those kids (BTW they were actually from Bonanza, OR) got a slap on the wrist. And the rest of the world forgot it happened. But I never forgot.

  4. microraptor says

    rayceeya @3: I think I remember hearing about that on the local news when it happened. Something about a minor disturbance and the National Guard being deployed. Something not regarded as really a big deal.

  5. cherbear says

    @#5 Yep. Depressingly, you’ve got that right. So much racism in Canada against First Nations, we have absolutely no right to be smug.

  6. anchor says

    What is wrong with these kids? What is wrong with their parents?

    Those are good questions.

    What is wrong with white American culture and their schools? Cultural discrimination and hatred is learned. Why is that heinous attitude permitted to persist? It’s like they don’t want to notice it and don’t care that it’s wrong. That’s a foul and evil attitude.

  7. rayceeya says

    :”Something not regarded as really a big deal.”

    Sure you call people shooting guns at other people no big deal.

    I call it a fucking hate crime.

    I guess pota-to po-tat-o is your world pal,

  8. Matrim says

    @8 rayceeya

    Pretty sure microraptor wasn’t calling it “no big deal,” looks like they were pointing out how it was downplayed in the media and people didn’t think much of it as a result. Tying into the whole theme that violence against native peoples is often overlooked.

  9. asteraceae says

    Same thing in Canada. The standard narrative here is, “natives don’t work!” Of course they try, but every job I had as a small-town youngster — every job — had a policy of simply tossing resumes from indigenous applicants in the garbage.

  10. methuseus says

    @microraptor & rayceeya:
    I don’t even remember hearing about it on the news at all. I was in college and almost exclusively looking at tech news, so that may account for it. Or it just didn’t make the news in the Chicago area in 2001.

    I love the Washington coast and would love to live there, as well, though obviously I am not a member of any tribe, either. I don’t understand the racism against Indigenous people. I didn’t grow up in an area where there were many, so that may be the reason I never saw it growing up except in history books. I never saw Custer or any of them as a hero and at least learned that the US government committed atrocities against Indigenous people and was told they were atrocities.

  11. says

    “They’ve come to the point where they don’t see the value in reporting,”

    That’s depressingly familiar.

    I think part of the problem is what we’re taught in history lessons (and, yes, how it’s taught) — Natives weren’t ever really talked about in current terms, just referred to in the past tense, and barely a word is said about how White people, from the start, raped, pillaged, murdered, and destroyed every group of people they came across. (Not always immediately, but inevitably.) Oh, and when conflicts are mentioned, it’s always spun so that the natives are the “aggressors” even though white people were literally invading their lands.

    Then when we do see portrayals of Natives in a modern context, we get bombarded with stupid, inaccurate Native Americans Tropes.

    Us white folks gotta do better on so many fronts.

  12. microraptor says

    methuseus @13: It barely made the local news for me, and I live only a few hours from Klamath Falls. I doubt it was reported in San Fransisco, much less Chicago.

  13. sparks says

    Humbly suggest we all re-screen “Little Big Man”. There are, no doubt, better ways to make the point. Question remains: What in the name of hell is wrong with humans? As if living day to day through this biochemical hellfire isn’t enough, we’ve got to mistreat, maim and kill each other in order to feel good about ourselves. What fucking nonsense.

  14. Onamission5 says


    The history there is very long and very one-sided in who gets favored. Ranchers in that region, which is drought prone and getting more so, only have the land they do in the first place because of repeated treaty violations and they have been over using that land (it was never meant to support a hundred thousand head of cattle) for decades, to the detriment of tribal sustainability as well as three species of threatened or endangered fish and water access for residential areas. Tribal leaders have been trying to come to a mutual consensus with the ranchers as long as I can remember; most of the ranchers won’t budge, and worse yet, are opening new ranches outside the district boundary so they can get the water before it enters the restricted area. Ranchers who behave reasonably, who actually listen to state researchers and tribal leaders and work cooperatively with them, are ostracized, treated like traitors. So much anti Indian sentiment from the people who shouldn’t have the land or be using it the way they are to begin with, they had the audacity to refer to sharing water with the original inhabitants during drought season as “cultural genocide.”

  15. Onamission5 says

    As a matter of clarification, the “farm kids” weren’t kids. They were grown assed men in their 20s.

  16. ck, the Irate Lump says

    cherbear wrote:

    @#5 Yep. Depressingly, you’ve got that right. So much racism in Canada against First Nations, we have absolutely no right to be smug.

    When it’s not direct hostility, it’s complete neglect and utter indifference which isn’t any better. For example, a lack of functional water filtration plants in northern communities doesn’t just happen overnight, and I’m sure someone was notified of it long before it became a critical problem.

  17. cherbear says

    @19 Not to mention all the murdered and missing First Nations and Indigenous women in Canada. They were not even worthy of a mention in newspapers in the past. >:(

  18. Simple Desultory Philip says

    my great-grandmother was yaqui. my parents still live right outside the reservation. i find myself often reminding the white people i interact with in discussions of race that not only are Native people disproportionate victims of hate crimes and crimes like rape *in general*, but that we even, you know, EXIST in the first place. i’m generally read white so i often get an unwelcomingly unfiltered view into how some folks talk when they assume their audience isn’t a member of/sympathetic to a minority community. and it’s amazing how often even well-meaning liberal people just don’t really think about or include Natives in their discussions of the hardships faced by POC. one thing that has helped my recent online ranting immensely is the sudden prominence of the word “colonizer” due to the success of the black panther movie. boy do i like that word.

  19. embraceyourinnercrone says

    And then this happened in Colorado…

    “The brothers had reportedly unnerved another parent on the tour, making the individual “nervous.” The parent called the police to report the suspicious pair.’

    because apparently being non-white, having long hair and being quiet is grounds for having campus police called on you, and being yanked out of your college tour group.