Thomas Kanewakeron Gray, left, and Lloyd Skanahwati Gray. Photo from Facebook
Education | National

University apologizes to Native brothers who were stopped by police



The president of Colorado State University apologized to two young Mohawk brothers who were stopped and questioned by police during a tour of the campus.

Thomas Kanewakeron Gray, 19, and Lloyd Skanahwati Gray, 17, went to the campus in Colorado Springs last week to see if the university was a good fit. But police officers stopped them after someone accused them of being too quiet and questioned their clothing choices.

"Racial profiling at it’s finest," the boys' mother, Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray, wrote on Facebook after the April 30 incident.

The university has since released the audio of the 911 call that led to the incident. In it, a woman whom news reports have identified as the mother of another student on the tour, called the boys "creepy."

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Native brothers on campus tour stopped by police

“There are two young men that joined our tour that weren’t a part of our tour,” said the woman, whom the redacted police report, describes as "white."

“One of them for sure, he said he’s from Mexico,” she continued. The brothers live in neighboring New Mexico, where Thomas Kanewakeron attends Northern New Mexico College in Espanola and Lloyd Skanahwati attends the Santa Fe Indian School, a Bureau of Indian Education institution, in Santa Fe.

The university also released the body cam footage which shows the brothers being stopped by campus police. One officer said "people" were worried that they were being "real quiet" on the tour.

"I think it's pretty discriminatory," Thomas Kanewakeron Gray told The Associated Press after the incident. "Me and my brother just stayed to ourselves the whole time. I guess that was scaring people; that we were just quiet."

Colorado State University on YouTube: CSU Police Department body cam footage from April 30 Admissions tour

Officials at the university have acknowledged the police stop as an incident of bias. President Tony Frank issued an apology on Friday after the story gained widespread attention in the media.

“The very idea that someone — anyone — might “look” like they don’t belong on a CSU Admissions tour is anathema,” Frank wrote in a message. “People of all races, gender, identities, orientations, cultures, religion, heritages, and appearances belong here.”

The Grays moved from Mohawk homelands in New York to New Mexico about a decade ago, The New York Times reported. Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray serves as executive director for an indigenous-led non-profit called Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute. She has asked people who want to lend support to the family to donate to the organization through a previously-established GoFundMe page.

"It has come to my attention that people are taking it upon themselves to start GoFundMe pages in my boys names without our permission," Gray wrote. "While we appreciate the outpouring of support and generosity and hope that these fundraisers are legitimate, we are asking everyone to please honor our wishes to send donations to support the work we do through our nonprofit organization through a GoFundMe page that was set up before this terrible incident occurred."


The brothers were wearing t-shirts and clothing from two of their favorite heavy metal bands. One of those bands, Cattle Decapitation, read about the incident and offered the Grays "free guest list spots to our shows for life."

"WEAK," the band wrote on Facebook.

The American Indian College Fund, a non-profit based in Colorado, also offered support.

"People of color deserve to be included in higher education like anyone else," Cheryl Crazy Bull, the president and CEO of the College Fund, said in a statement on Monday. "College visits are an important part of the pre-college experience, and we encourage potential students to visit colleges to feel safe and accepted at the college of their choice. It is upsetting when Native students are hesitant to consider a college based on experiences, such as what occurred at Colorado State University (CSU)."

Read More on the Story:
After Native American bias incident, college says those against diversity can go ‘elsewhere’ (The Washington Post May 6, 2018)
Video shows police stop of Native American teens on tour (The Associated Press May 6, 2018)
Native American Brothers Pulled From Campus Tour After Nervous Parent Calls Police (The New York Times May 5, 2018)
Woman called Española teens pulled from Colorado campus tour ‘creepy’ and ‘odd’ (The Albuquerque Journal May 4, 2018)
College regrets treatment of two brothers from New Mexico (The Associated Press May 4, 2018)
Two Native American brothers were touring a Colo. college when a parent called police. They say it was racial profiling. (The Washington Post May 4, 2018)
Mom of Native American boys questioned by police during CSU tour says incident breaks her heart (The Denver Post May 3, 2018)