TAHOLAH, Wash. -- A civil rights lawsuit filed by the Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) in U.S. District Court against four school districts, their superintendents and athletic directors in February of 2013 has been settled. The suit was filed for civil rights violations against tribal member athletes of the Taholah School District, according to QIN President Fawn Sharp.
“The lawsuit was a direct result of the actions of the Coastal 1B Athletic League and its imposed harsh sanctions against the Taholah School District athletic programs, which directly impacted our tribal member student-athletes,” said Sharp.
“Our foremost objectives were to support our students and their families, restore league play, and create a framework to avoid similar problems in the future,” Sharp said. “We are very satisfied with the outcome of the lawsuit.”
Dissolving Taholah’s athletic league had reduced equal opportunities for Taholah’s student-athletes to participate in extracurricular activities. Taholah’s loss of a sports league meant Taholah students and parents had to travel hundreds of miles to play games. Recently, the Taholah basketball team traveled to play a school located on the Lummi Nation’s Indian Reservation, a bus ride of more than 6 hours one way, said Sharp.
The settlement includes a new league constitution that will be adopted by all member schools. “In small, isolated communities such as ours, it is critically important for our young people to have the opportunity to be engaged in extracurricular activities. Athletics help teach our young people the highest standards of sportsmanship, respect, camaraderie and teamwork,” Sharp said.
“Our hope is that we can all go forward from here. The new league has been tentatively named the ‘New Horizon League’, symbolizing a clean slate, so we can move forward with a fresh start,” she said.