Report: Native American Volleyball Team Called ‘Savages,’ Leave Game for Safety Reasons

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The coach of an Arizona Native American high school volleyball team, pulled his team from an away game when opposing fans began taunting them with calls of “savage.”

Last Tuesday, Salt River Eagles Coach Kyronna Roanhorse, whose team is made up of Native American students from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian reservation in Mesa, Arizona, pulled his team out of a game at Caurus Academy, a Catholic charter school in Phoenix after the Caurus fans became abusive.

Roanhorse told the Arizona Republic that his team “heard some things they probably shouldn’t have.” The coach added, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

The coach said that Caurus fans started out pleasant enough, but soon began yelling out “savages,” carrying on with “tomahawk chops,” and began delivering other race-based slurs and gestures.

Roanhorse said that when he complained to the referee, the behavior was waved off, and the referee said, “boys will be boys.”

Wendy Davison, Caurus’s assistant principal, and athletic director, later agreed that “something” happened during the game but did not necessarily agree with coach Roanhorse’s characterization of the incident.

Davison noted that there was no cell phone video to prove anything either way.

“Those are the facts, and we apologize for the fact that there was a disruption or the fact that anybody felt that they could not move forward with the game,” Davison concluded.

To date, no sanctions have been levied by the Canyon Athletic Association, the group that governs competition among the non-traditional schools in the region.

Davison was quick to point out that her school was not sanctioned.

“We respect this team (Salt River), there is no doubt about that … I think it’s important to note that there were no sanctions levied against either member school, the investigation is closed, we want to move forward with Salt River, we’re going to partner with Salt River (and) we’re going to partner with the CAA to move forward so that we can all enjoy winter and spring sports,” Davison said.

For his part, Roanhorse decried the lack of action.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” Roanhorse told the paper. “We have to learn from this situation going forward and that’s the biggest step and impression that we’re trying to make here, that it’s (the incident) not acceptable, but at the same time we can all come together to make it (the game) work and to move forward and learn from this type of situation.”

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