Hayden Griffith, a young citizen of the Delaware Tribe, wasn't allowed to wear an eagle feather to her graduation ceremony in Oklahoma in 2015. Family photo
Opinion

André Cramblit: Bill in California allows tribal regalia at graduation ceremonies





André Cramblit, a citizen of the Karuk Tribe, brings word of a new bill in California that ensures Native youth can wear eagle feathers or other regalia during graduation ceremonies:
All too often, (usually at the last minute), we get word that some ignorant school district in their infinite ethnocentricity deems that Native students are not allowed to wear an eagle feather, beaded regalia or other cultural adornments as part of their graduation garb. They would deny our students the privilege and pride of showing culturally appropriate respect to this ceremony of achievement.

It is our way to laud the accomplishments of individuals with symbols of respectful embellishment. It could be an eagle or hawk feather, a dentalia necklace, basket hat or a beaded mortarboard. These should be considered as marks of academic distinction given by the Native community, perhaps the Title V or JOM Parent committees, to honor the accomplishments of our students. It would be the same as wearing a gold braid for being in the National Honor Society.

This year California has taken the proactive step of offering a legislative resolution to this annual conundrum. Assemblyman Todd Gloria (Tlingit-Haida Tribes of Alaska,) has introduced AB 233 to preserve a students’ right to free speech and cultural expression during commencement ceremonies. This bill is actively supported by the long-time students rights activist organization California Indian Legal Services.

Read More on the Story:
André Cramblit: A Cultural Rite of Passage for Native Youth and Education (Indian Country Media Network 4/5)

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Andre Cramblit: Native student fights to wear moccasins at graduation (06/06)