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Police Question Native American Teens Touring Colorado State

A parent called police because she felt threatened by the teen brothers, who used their own money to travel to the campus.

Brooklyn Riepma

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Earlier this week, brothers Thomas Kanewakeron Gray, 19, and Skanahwati Lloyd Gray, 17, tried to tour the campus of Colorado State University (CSU). But their time was cut short when police pulled them from the campus tour for questioning. According to their mother, Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray, the boys did nothing wrong and were profiled because they are Native American.

The brothers took a trip from Santa Cruz, NM to visit CSU in Fort Collins, CO. They saved their own money for the seven-hour car ride. But they arrived late, and they joined the the tour after it began.

In a statement, CSU officials said the incident started when “a parent participating in the tour called campus police because she was nervous about the presence of two young men who joined the tour while it was in progress.”

My two teenagers were ‘patted down,’ and my 17 year old ordered to ‘empty his pockets,’ then immediately ordered to ‘keep his hands out of his pockets,’ until he was forced to ask ‘which one do you want me to do?’” Kahneratokwas Gray said in a Facebook post.

“This incident is sad and frustrating from nearly every angle, particularly the experience of two students who were here to see if this was a good fit for them as an institution,” CSU said. “The Office of Admissions, Office of the VP for Diversity, Native American Cultural Center, and the CSUPD all are meeting to review how such an incident can be avoided or more appropriately handled in the future. We have reached out to the students’ family and school community.”

The family have received apologies from the CSU tour guide, Colorado’s lieutenant governor, and several leaders of the university.

And the school made this announcement on Twitter Friday afternoon:

On Thursday Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, who is also on the chair of Colorado’s Commission of Indian Affairs, also issued a statement. She said she hopes “that the young men will not be deterred in their pursuit of attending college in Colorado, a traditional homeland to many tribal nations.”

Police body-cam footage and the 911 call regarding the incident have been made public on the CSU website.

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Brooklyn Riepma is a Boise-based journalist and student. She is a junior at The College of Idaho majoring in Political Economy with minors in Creative writing, Natural Sciences, and Journalism.

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