WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — A sports editor for a New Mexico newspaper apologized this week after using “scalps” in a tweet to describe a high school basketball team defeating a team with Native American student-athletes.
Hobbs News-Sun Sports Editor Jason Farmer said Friday the tweet was “very inappropriate and completely insensitive.”
The world “scalp” has a racist history as white settlers regularly cut off pieces of Native Americans’ heads after killing them. The body parts were later publicly displayed as trophies and as scare tactics to other tribes to subject themselves to white supremacy.
Farmer acknowledged that using the word was not within the standard of journalism or “common decency.”
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer criticized Farmer’s social media post describing the outcome of a game between the Hobbs High School Eagles and the Shiprock Chieftains.
The Eagles defeated the Chieftains, 95-39, in the Hobbs Holiday Tournament on Thursday.
“Native American people continue to fight discrimination and racism to this day, and the comment from Mr. Farmer only adds to the lack of respect for our Navajo people,” Nez said in a statement. “We need to reject discrimination and respect diversity throughout our country. We cannot allow statements such as Farmer’s to be normalized.”
Shiprock Chieftains play out of Shiprock, New Mexico — the spiritual home of the Navajo Nation.
Nez and Lizer said they will continue to encourage all Navajo students to remain respectful of other teams and student-athletes, and to have respect for diversity and to embrace love and compassion for others.
“Our Navajo teams often play in non-Navajo communities and this draws large crowds of our Diné people, creating revenue for non-Navajo communities,” Nez said. “Perhaps it’s time for our Navajo teams to establish our own league.”
This story has been corrected to remove an inaccurate reference to the timing of the apology.