Here, from Indian Country Today.  An excerpt:

Native high school student Waverly Wilson, who will be graduating soon fromLakes High Schoolin Lakewood, Washington has been told by an advisor and principal Karen Mauer-Smith that she would not be allowed to wear a gifted eagle feather on her tassel. Mauer-Smith instructed Wilson she could only wear an eagle feather is if she hid it under her graduation gown when walking to receive her diploma.

Wilson says the school has made her feel like she has to hide that she is Native American. “They said I have to have it inside my gown, and I could only have it out afterwards. So I could not have it when I was going out on stage.”

After first purchasing her cap and gown, Wilson asked her counselor and graduation advisor if she could wear her feather. Her counselor said no, and sent her to the principal.



On Monday, May 4, 2015, the Colorado Senate Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs voted to postpone HB 15-1027 indefinitely, effectively killing the bill.  As we have previously mentioned, this bill would have required state-supported institutions of higher education to classify Native American students with historical ties to Colorado as in-state students for tuition purposes.

HB 15-1027 was introduced in the Colorado House on January 7 and assigned to the House Education Committee.  The bill was later referred to House Appropriations and passed with amendments on its second reading.

The bill’s first amendment outlines that students classified as in-state students are eligible for state-funded financial aid but ineligible for a college opportunity fund stipend.  Another amendment inserted a new section that adjusts anticipated funding received by the department of higher education from the students’ share of tuition.  The final amendment slightly changed the name of the bill so that it read “A Bill for an Act Concerning In-State Tuition for American Indians from Tribes with Historical Ties to Colorado, and, in Connection Therewith, Reducing an Appropriation.”

HB 15-1027 passed the Colorado House as amended, and was introduced in the Senate on April 27.  You can see TEDNA and NARF’s testimony on this bill here.

Ansley Sherman is a legal fellow at the Native American Rights Fund.  She assists staff attorney Matthew Campbell with education matters, including HB 15-1027. 

Here, and an excerpt:

Native American youth represent some of the most inspiring, resilient leaders across our country, especially in tribal and urban Indian communities. Their resiliency exists despite health, education, and other significant disparities, structural racism, and barriers to success. At a recent convening at the White House, co-hosted by the Aspen InstituteCenter for Native American Youth (CNAY), first lady Michelle Obama acknowledged the issues they face.

“Folks in Indian Country didn’t just wake up one day with addiction problems,” Obama said. “Poverty and violence didn’t just randomly happen… these issues are the result of a long history of systematic discrimination and abuse.”

The Creating Opportunities for Native Youth convening brought together the first lady, several US Cabinet secretaries, and more than 160 nonprofit and philanthropic leaders, policymakers, tribal leaders, and youth for a day of discussions around increasing investments in Native American youth. The goal of the convening was to elevate awareness about Native youth issues, facilitate actionable dialogue, and call for increased public and private sector investments in Native American youth.

More often than their non-Native peers, Native youth go to schools that lack adequate resources to hire enough teachers, mental health counselors, and other necessary support staff and materials. They wait in long lines — for hours — to see a doctor within a health care system that is funded at half of the communities’ needs. And Native Americans experience higher rates of poverty and homelessness than any other population in this country. The challenges they face each day are very real, but are often left out of the national dialogue.

That context is important.