My turn: Women deserve to play in the Gold Medal tourney

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm writing to express my feelings of concern and distress regarding a recent, uncontested, shocking decision by the Juneau Lions Club regarding removing the women's bracket from the Gold Medal tournament.

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As a previous participant who was on one of the inaugural teams to play in the tournament, Trudy A. Skan's efforts of behind the scenes campaigning, handing out flyers and petitions, made that special time possible. I can confirm that the efforts she took on were fought nearly every step of the way.

This type of decision is contrary to my line of work, which is steeped in diversity and equity, in both social and educational fields. As news came back from home regarding this decision, I realized that I had put too much faith in the system, that it would stay current and even consider women equal to men in all aspects of our community.

The history of our Native American communities was based not on gender but equality based upon skills. Are we not today equal in respect to athletics as well? I remember that night of the inaugural game, I remember the packed house as if it were a championship night.

So, the reasoning that is being stated as to our bracket not drawing enough of a crowd, is not because the interest or support isn't there, but perhaps in the terrible time slots that have been allocated for the women's teams from the beginning.

I think of efforts by equal-rights activist Elizabeth Peratrovich, she was the single driving force behind the passage of the state's Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, the first anti-discrimination law in the United States. I'm sure today she would be appalled at the continued disparity that not only are women subjected to, but also put up with.

So, I am officially contesting openly the removal of the women's bracket, and challenging other women and men to do the like, if not for themselves then also for future generations of daughters, granddaughters who will grow into young Native women.

If the Juneau Lions Club will not support the strength of women in their Gold Medal tournament, perhaps it's time to seek outside support, which I am certain would sponsor a new tournament that promotes equality, strength and unity of which our Native American culture symbolizes.

So, I hope that others believe that the Gold Medal tournament is no longer just about promoting and supporting our strong, wonderful and talented men but also to honor the women who have for centuries held together the families, communities and traditions that signify we are a people united in our efforts, and supportive of our presence in all areas of our lives.

• Stacey L. Skan-Allen is a resident of Duluth, Minn.

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