With graduation around the corner, this is a good time to remind everyone about the flyers TEDNA and NARF created. Two flyers were created to assist students and families in their quest to wear an eagle feather at their graduation ceremony. The first trifold flyer is for students and families and serves to provide guidance on working with School Districts to make the request. The second trifold flyer is an informational flyer for School Districts to inform them about the significance and importance of the eagle feather to graduating students.
An excerpt from the first flyer:
Every year, Native high school students across the country seek to express their individual and tribal religious beliefs and celebrate their personal academic achievements by wearing an eagle feather at their graduation ceremonies. While most public school districts permit Native students to wear eagle feathers at graduation, some school districts do not allow it. This guide provides information for students and families on steps they can take to ensure that the graduate can wear an eagle feather during the commencement ceremony. It is based on approaches we have found most successful in addressing this issue.
The Washington State Office of Public Instruction and its Superintendent Randy Dorn recently issued a letter to state schools regarding “tribal students wearing items of cultural significance such as eagle feathers during graduation ceremonies.” The State concludes that a student wearing an eagle feather “should not be viewed as a violation of the graduation ceremony dress codes.”
To view previous TEDNA articles and links about eagle feathers and graduation this year, click here, here, here, here, here, and here.
NARF, California Indian Legal Services and the ACLU of CA wrote a letter together for the Superintendent of Clovis Unified School District on behalf of Christian Titman.
One of the proudest moments in my life was graduating with my master’s in education administration from Oglala Lakota College and receiving an eagle feather for achieving a lifelong dream. That was until 2012, when our oldest son graduated from high school, and my wife and I had the honor of tying his eagle feather on him. And we are looking forward to proudly supporting our youngest son when he graduates from high school in 2017.
Eagles are known by many tribes to be a messenger to the Creator, symbolizing bravery, respect, personal achievement and honor. Eagles are protected under two federal laws: the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These prohibit the possession, use and sale of eagle feathers and parts, with an explicit exception for American Indians who are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes. American Indian tribal members may wear feathers legally in their possession or utilized to create religious or ceremonial items for personal or tribal use.
This month, thousands of American Indian students across the country are graduating from high school and college, fulfilling a dream for themselves and an honor for their families. And with only 49 percent of Native students graduating from high school nationwide, this is a moment to be celebrated and cherished. Honoring our graduating Native students who attend the 187 tribal schools across 23 states has been a longstanding cultural tradition. Native graduates receive their eagle feathers and plumes and proudly wear them on their graduation caps or tied in their hair. This is a part of who we are and continues to affirm our identity and connection to our ancestry and culture.
To read the entire article, click here.