Native Americans Pulled From College Tour Highlights Need To Talk About Race In The Mountain West

Two Native Americans were pulled out of a college tour this week when a parent told campus police the young men were making her nervous.

Colorado State University issued a statement that said “we deeply regret the experience of these students while they were guests on our campus.”

Arash Jahanian is with the ACLU of Colorado. He hoped the school will now have meaningful conversations about racial profiling. He said this type of incident is not confined to the few that make the news.  

“These are certainly issues,” he said, “that we as a country, as a culture, as a region are in fact dealing with on an ongoing and constant basis.”

Samin Dadelahi is with a Wyoming foundation that focuses on community building. She said talking about race makes us uncomfortable, especially in smaller rural communities. “People want to look the other way,” she said, “and not admit that that’s what’s going on.”

As communities in the mountain west become increasingly racially and ethnically diverse, Dadelahi said there’s no easy answer to racism or racial profiling.

But at the very least, she said, we can try to discuss it openly.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.