Quinault tribe supports appeal of Taholah sanctions

TAHOLAH — The Quinault Indian Nation’s Business Committee voted unanimously Monday to support the Taholah School District in legal action to fight sanctions levied against Chitwhin sports teams.

Athletic directors from area Class 1B schools dissolved the Coastal League, while recommending a ban against Taholah teams from participating in postseason competition during a meeting last month. The sanctions, which stemmed from eligibility, sportsmanship and safety issues, are being appealed by the Taholah School District.

“Since first learning about the athletic directors’ decision, we have first and foremost been extremely concerned about our young tribal members in both the Taholah and Lake Quinault school districts,” Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp said in a press release. “Second, we are very concerned that the decision lacks legitimacy, due process and any sense of procedural fairness.

“From our initial read, it appears the league officials did not have authority to do any of these things,” the statement continued. “Moreover, by acting outside the procedural rules of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, league officials not only created potential liability for the WIAA but assumed the risk of personal liability for their actions. We fully anticipate Taholah School District’s appeal will be successful and we support the appeal entirely.”

The Quinault Nation, according to Sharp, supports appointing a mediator to resolve the dispute.

“However, if you cannot facilitate resolution to these issues, we intend to support our students to the fullest extent of the law,” Sharp said in the statement. “It is the ultimate goal of the Quinault Indian Nation to improve sportsmanship, both on and off the field. We value athletics as a venue to teach our young people the highest standards of sportsmanship, respect, camaraderie and teamwork. The QIN intends to stand strongly with our students at every stage at these proceedings.”

She called the sanctions “a national heartbreak to the Quinault Indian Nation to deprive our student-athletes of the opportunity to play in a legitimate league and earn recognition to which they are rightfully entitled. These students work hard to earn these opportunities and honors and denying them their due reward teaches them nothing. Rather, it sends a message of distrust and injustice.”