‘An unbelievable opportunity’: MHSA sees bias issue as vehicle for bridging cultural gap

Editor’s note: This story is part of three-part series on perceived anti-Native bias in high school basketball in Montana.

BOZEMAN – Jay Lemelin called it “the two-million-dollar question”.

Native and non-Native sources interviewed for our 406mtsports.com and Lee Montana Newspapers series on perceived anti-Native bias in high school basketball officiating agree it is, as Montana School Association executive director Brian Michelotti put it, “a huge, huge issue.”

The larger challenge, often met with, “that’s a great question”, is what to do about a conviction that has festered among tribes across the state and country for more than a century.

The first step toward resolving any issue is acknowledging one exists, and sources across the spectrum met the topic head on. Some reached out after learning about the series via the grapevine.

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“I’m willing to be transparent because I feel like that’s part of problem,” said Cameron McCormick, a Crow who has coached at Rocky Boy, Northern Cheyenne, Absarokee and most recently Lame Deer. “Lots of coaches, referees and maybe activities directors will not openly share their gut feelings. I think that’s part of problem.

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