fbpx

No Eagle Feathers Allowed?

No Eagle Feathers Allowed?

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown May 21st, 2014 Last Updated on: May 21st, 2014

 

File this one under ridiculous. Their mascot might be the Seminole Chieftains, but these Native American high school seniors cannot wear eagle feathers at their high school graduation. Native News Online took a closer look at the issue.

In Seminole county, Oklahoma, at Seminole High School, the student body is 49 percent Native American according to a Public School Review online record (http://www.publicschoolreview.com/school_ov/school_id/66602). And even though they Native students account for a large part of the student body, the Native seniors, were informed they were not allowed to put an eagle feather on their graduation caps.

Parent of Senior Sefuan White, Amari White (Seminole, Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw) said his son, along with three other cousins, already had eagle feathers prepared and to find out they couldn’t wear it, he was surprised.

“Why would it bother someone, they worked so hard to graduate? I find it odd that it would be told to them that they can’t wear it. How do you tell the people who worked on that feather, that beaded it, that now they can’t wear it?”

When asked about how White felt knowing that his son’s high school’s mascot is the Chieftans, but now the school is not letting the Native families honor their own students, White stated, “it does confuse me, that you use the Chieftan mascot, but you can’t honor with a feather, when you have painted on the walls, it confuses me.”

Native News Online spoke with the principal, and to confuse the matter, there is no actual rule on the books against the feathers.

Seminole high school principal, Michael Crawford stated in a telephone interview “no one is allowed to put anything on their graduation caps, although there is no rule, that is our Seminole (high school) tradition, we don’t put anything on them.”

So what do you think? Since there is no rule should the students go ahead and wear them? Hopefully there are no repercussions if they do decide to wear. Maybe a new tradition can start.


Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » No Eagle Feathers Allowed?

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

Related
PowWows.com's Top Photos from Instagram in 2020


21 thoughts on “No Eagle Feathers Allowed?

  1. Angie Valdez says:

    I say WEAR it, and wear it PROUD!!! I know I would, and I would also go seek an attorney, because lets be clear about something. Every other race screams discrimination/racism, the minute they are told no on something, like the muslims, blacks, ect… And it becomes top news on every channel, but since this involves a rather quiet minority of people it does not make the news every where nor does it get the attention it deserves… The white people WILL walk all over you if you let them, DON’T them take this from you…

  2. Myron paine says:

    Search for and click on LENAPE LAND.

    Clck on the heavy black text with an >, until you come to the pictographs with the three spikes on the head. They symbolise the “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” of Norse Catholics, who called themselves LENAPE. Most ancestors, who spoke Algonquin were Norse Catholics.

    The feather tradition was probably a convenient way to wear a “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” sign.

    This ridiculous prohibition is another bad action caused by the teaching of a English Protestant mythology about the origin of America.

    The 17th Century Protestants, who controlled the two printing presses, suppressed the words “Norse,” “Catholic” and “LENAPE.”

  3. Robert Redhawk (Leni Lenape) says:

    The students have worked hard for their diplomas and denying them the right to wear an Eagle feather…the symbol of their heritage is ludicrous. Seeing the student body is 49% Native American, the school SHOULD have made allowances for this. But its the same old, sad story; once under white mans roof, you go by white mans rules. Break the code!!! Wear your feather and wear it proudly! You earned it! Ahoh!

  4. Eagleyes says:

    Being the schools mascot are the Cheiftans; the feather should be a given to honor their students for outstanding achievements in graduating. Wear the feather you’ve earned the right, and congratulations!

  5. Michael Red Shirt says:

    I went to University as a senior man. I had completed my ceremonies and carry certain cultural responsibilities. When I graduated for both my degrees, I wore one of my Eagle Feathers, beaded moccasins and beaded belt along with the regulation gown and cap. It was not questioned nor was it refuted in any way by one of the largest universities in the country. And if it had been, I would have worn them anyway. I was the first in my family to attain a tertiary education and graduated with a Masters in Educational Studies. This honors family, the people who supported you, your nation and your ancestors; not just the institution attended.

  6. Anita Foster says:

    He said it isn’t a rule, just a tradition. I say Break tradition and wear it anyway.

  7. Deb Gruber says:

    This is their special day I believe they should be allowed to wear them. They are proud they’re graduating and they’re proud of their heritage. Let them enjoy the day their way.

  8. Tink Er Bell White says:

    Seriously!! This is just plain CRAZY!! The Eagle Feather is an honor and should be proudly worn <3 CONGRATULATIONS to all the fine Native Americans Graduating!!!

  9. Carmella Jacobs, Mohawk says:

    I say if you bpay for your cap n gown do what you want!

  10. Christiane Bagnato says:

    I find the following to be one of the most ridiculous pieces of logic I’ve seen in a long time: “Why would it bother someone, they worked so hard to graduate? I find it odd that it would be told to them that they can’t wear it. How do you tell the people who worked on that feather, that beaded it, that now they can’t wear it?” First of all…what does their mascot have to do with anything? Nothing,at all! Secondly…This is a graduation from a regular, accredited USA high school is it not? Yes, it is! Correct…and as such, tradition dictates that NO form of adornment be placed on the cap or the gown! The cap and gown ARE the symbols, in and of themselves, that tell the world that the person wearing them has just elevated themselves to a higher status in life. They have achieved a wonderful and meaningful thing…they have GRADUATED! Thirdly…these aren’t grade school children! How do you tell them they cannot utilize the feather they worked on the way they would wish to? You must be joking! It’s time to grow up papa and teach your children that they cannot and will not be able to do anything and everything they wish to do simply because they wish to do it! That’s part of growing up! The ceremony attached to the graduation is not a Native American ceremony. If it were, symbolism and things that are meaningful to the Native American as an individual or as part of the larger community might be appropriate. When I graduated High School in 1964 nothing made me prouder than to be able to don that cap and gown! It showed that I made it. I studied hard, worked hard and was rewarded by participating in a ceremony which included cap, gown and the calling out of my name…MY NAME! The name that was on the diploma they handed me as I walked forward to shake their hands and accept their congratulations! There is nothing to prevent any Native American from carrying that feather with them throughout the ceremony and beyond but to wear it on the symbolic garb designed for that occasion would be nothing less than an insult to that tradition! Part of the reason of wearing cap and gown is to level the playing field…to present the class as one unit and not pay undue attention to the over or under dressed or the people who may have more to spend on clothing so that it sets them apart from others. Rich and poor, high marks and middle of the road marks or just passing marks…popular or unpopular, sport jocks or academic minded…all march to the same tune and in the same processional…and that is a great thing!

    • Are you seriously trying to push conformity of your ideals on others “level the playing field” equating this to the type of clothing they may wear is like calling a soldier’s medals a fashion trend. You obviously know nothing of native heritage or historical importance of the feather to native people.

      Secondly everything in the end of your statements is about everyone being the same, well I completely disagree with you. One of the problems with the current system is we no longer embrace individuality and force everyone into prejudice “because you are different”. We supplant critical thinking with following rhetoric, creativity with complacency, we no longer teach our children to achieve greater, but to just get by and be like everyone else.

      Lastly there is nothing disrespectful about including something of your heritage that you are proud of in an event that honors your achievements. Not anyone else’s achievements, not the school’s achievements, but the individual’s. That is tantamount to you saying my long hair, or that girl’s earrings are disrespectful of the tradition around graduating.

      I’m not sure whether you really believe the garbage you are spouting or you are just a plant spinning it to push others into thinking conformity is the ‘right’ way. personally I think native americans as well as a few other aboriginal cultures in the world are some of the only one’s left that embrace and encourage the uniqueness of individuality. Screw the system and being a part of it their way, be your own person and foster creativite and free thinking in the coming generations or soon we will live in a world full of people like you who want to implant their ideas and thoughts as my own. who want to suppress my individual nature as a unique person so i appear like everyone else.

      Utter Trash !!!!

  11. verena says:

    I’m full blood over here and don’t find this offensive.They are not singling out only our people,no one is allowed to so why fight something when there is no fight? Native culture is all about respect & honor so respect what they want, what’s the big deal? Just have them carry it instead.

  12. Jerry Peltier says:

    That is just plain wrong. Wearing an Eagle feather is an honor. A Native student graduating high school is a special moment. Especially when you consider that Native students have the lowest high school graduation rates of any ethnicity. I have a son who will be graduating from Dartmouth. He will be gifted and will wear an Eagle feather during commencement.
    To all graduating American Indian students everywhere, CONGRATULATIONS, raise your head high and wear your Eagle feather with honor and pride.

  13. Vickie says:

    I am not a native American, but find this to be such a disrespectful attitude towards the youth that have worked for the honor. I would like to know if the school forbids the wearing of piercings, tattoos or jewelry? At least the eagle feather represents special recognition and honor.

  14. Catches Many Horses says:

    By gosh, I will go down fighting if I cannot cary a feather, much less wear a feather across the stage.This will not stand. Catches Many Horses

  15. Milton Billingsley says:

    I remember the days when almost everyone had a PEACE symbol on their cap and buttons about stopping the war pinned to their gown – heck, we even had strippers dash across the stage to get their diploma. But all these were the ideals of the left. It seems if something today doesn’t sit right with the people in charge they outlaw it. This is no longer a republic we live in.

  16. Wise Man-Kiowa says:

    If they can’t “Wear it” have them walk across the stage holding it. Its not technically wearing it, still shows your accomplishment and pride and its within your presence.

  17. oldspider says:

    Is any student allowed to add anything to their caps? Are the students asking for something extra that all students have been banned from doing? At all of the graduations I have attended, no one was allowed to attach anything extra to the outfit. Its a sign of respect for the school you graduate from. Its not a put down for being Native. If other students are allowed to put flowers or ribbons or whatever, it would be different.

  18. Drew Waepew-Awaehsaeh says:

    Hey,as long as there’s NO “RULE” PREVENTING anyone from WEARING an Eagle-Feather in their cap,I see NO HARM WHATSOEVER in NOT wearing one that day!!! If ANYONE has a PROBLEM with that,then CHANGE the FREAKING RULE on NOT wearing any type of “adornment” during graduation!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Free Email Series: What to Expect at Your First Pow Wow

shares