By Sean Parrish
A panel of Native American professional athletes spoke to Haskell students on how sports can help improve issues facing the Native community.
The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) held the event that was their first to specifically highlight the Native American community.
The panelists consisted of former professional basketball player; Damen Bell-Holter (Haida Tribe of Alaska), former professional soccer player/Pac 12 network personality; Temryss Lane (Lummi), UFC Women’s Flyweight champion; Nicco Montano (Diné), and moderator, Kim Miller who is the RISE Vice President of the leadership and education programs.
Temyrss Lane talked about how sports helped her out in her life, “sports really helped open my mind to what is possible because it operated as a place where I was driven because I loved it so much.” Lane continued on saying “sports also helped me with my education because it held me accountable, because if I wasn’t getting good grades and taking care of the things that I needed to take care of to be a good student, then I wasn’t able to do what I love. So sports really helped me excel academically.”
With the high rates of health problems rising among Native Americans, Nicco Montano was asked about promoting physical fitness. Montano stated, “I do, because I thrive off being physically healthy. My mind is healthy, my body is healthy, my spirit is healthy, and I am healthy emotionally.” Montano ended in saying “You won’t know how much potential you have until you try”
At the conclusion of the event when Damen Bell-Holter was asked what he wanted Haskell students to learn from the discussion he commented “what I want you all to take away is that we all have a voice. It does not matter if you have a platform or not, you just have to be willing to step up and speak out.” Bell-Holter concluded “I want you all to gain knowledge of your identity. Be proud of who you are, where you come from and who you come from.”
RISE is a non profit organizations that is dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress more information can be found at www.risetowin.org