Three Native Athletes Provide Frank Talk to Haskell Indian University Students


Kim Miller, RISE Vice President Leadership and Education Programs; Nicco Montano UFC women’s flyweight champion, Navajo Nation; Temryss Lane, former professional soccer player/Pac 12 Network personality, Lummi Nation; and Damen Bell-Holter, former professional basketball player, Haida Tribe of Alaska.

Published January 26, 2018

LAWRENCE, KANSAS – Race, the #MeToo movement and speaking out were a few of the topics discussed at a sports panel held at Haskell Indian Nations University with three professional Native athletes.

Damen Bell-Holter, former professional basketball player (Haida Tribe of Alaska); Temryss Lane, former professional soccer player/Pac 12 Network personality (Lummi Nation); and Nicco Montano, UFC women’s flyweight champion (Navajo Nation) were the guests and all first-time visitors to the tribal college.
Haskell students were impressed after the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) discussion of how sports can play a role in improving and solving issues facing the Native American community.
“I thought the RISE panel was very inspiring.  They all spoke from the heart and I really enjoyed their view as Natives.  I especially liked Damen Bell-Holter and his passion for encouraging youth.  I found that commendable,” Haskell student Joseph Singh commented.
Bell-Holter emphasized being vocal on issues: “Staying true to who you are and staying true to your identity; knowing where you come from – that is where we find our power. You have the capability and confidence to speak out.”
Temyrss Lane says she wanted to connect with the students in letting them know they go through hardships as well.
“We were able to speak about race, in a safe space with other Natives and addressed things we have endured and hopefully inspire and let others know they are not alone in those experiences. I think a lot of times our youth feel isolated.”
Nicco Montano also addressed speaking out. She mentioned an event in Minneapolis she attended.
“I was brought out and the first thing I said was I want to give thanks to those water protectors at the camp in North Dakota fighting for clean water, they are fighting for all of us. And I think a lot of the people at that event were surprised I mentioned it,” stated Montano.
Montano also commented on the atmosphere of the Haskell crowd: “I felt a lot of power with the audience today, they were very responsive and agreed on a lot of the topics we discussed.  I am just happy to be a part of this.”
Kim Miller, RISE Vice President of Leadership and Education said they look forward to doing more collaborations.
“We heard it in this conversation, the challenge of visibility in the Native American communities. So how do we help to be a proponent in greater visibility in telling Native stories and give a voice?”
The campus conversation with Haskell, was the first RISE event specifically highlighting the Native American community. The RISE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2015 by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross that is dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress. RISE uses sports to promote understanding, respect and equality. For more, visit

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