We’re Still Waiting for Justice for Andreas Garcia

We’re Still Waiting for Justice for Andreas Garcia

By now, most of us have heard the story of Andreas Garcia, a Native American boy who got his hair cut by classmates, against his will. The news splashed across many news outlets and yet the real issue is still unresolved.

Garcia (Kickapoo Nation) was visibly shaken and angry when retelling his story of how classmates forcibly cut his long hair. His teacher, meanwhile, was too distracted to notice what was going on. Garcia told KOCO:

After I was done doing my homework, they started cutting my hair. The teacher wasn't looking. She was just on her laptop.

The Del City Elementary School Superintendent Dr. Rick Cobb offered very little support to Garcia and his parents. Although the investigation began the day of the incident, it has stalled since due to holidays and inclement weather. Dr. Cobb assures the incident is being taken very seriously, but time will tell if those are merely empty words.

This isn't the only time this sort of thing has happened recently.

This is an issue that runs deep and school districts need to address it correctly. Indigenous traditions are continuously ignored and disrespected and our children pay the price. When you have teachers and school mascots that openly mock our culture and ridicule our appearance, issues like this are often swept under the rug and ignored. School districts fail to understand indigenous cultures or the significance of having long hair and it clearly stems from the Eurocentric views on which the school system is based. Many indigenous children struggle with their identity and are teased because they are seen as “different,” which contributes to depression and even suicidal ideations.

Specific issues that affect indigenous children or the community are rarely discussed in most school systems. School boards are not doing enough to include indigenous children, but in some cases, are actively keeping indigenous parents in the dark. Unfortunately, serious issues are not being reported to authorities or mishandled by the school district. Tribal nations need to be vigilant and demand schools and teachers be held accountable for their actions.

So how do we prevent this from happening again?

We have to realize that each school system has different policies in place. Tribal nations, respected elders, or representatives need to be more visible within the school district and serve as a conduit and become familiar with their policies, especially how they handle issues involving Native children. The incident involving Garcia was one of several within the school district with almost zero resolution. The Texas American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint on behalf of Garcia and his family, which will involve the United States Department of Education and the case will be reviewed as a civil rights case.

Some may question if this is really a civil rights case and the simple answer is, yes. Long hair is not just a unique cultural tradition, but there is a spiritual connection as well. A civil rights violation is any offense that occurs by force and threatens or harms the victim in any way. Violations include assault, injuries or death. In 1968, indigenous people were granted first-time access to the United States Bill of Rights and the rights of our children should not be trampled by school systems that fail to protect our children.

How many headlines will it take for someone outside the indigenous community to realize how serious this is? Teachers, superintendents, and school districts need education and redirection since they lack accountability and have few to no protocols on how to handle such situations. There should be a zero-tolerance policy when a student is physically harmed and assaulted.

This story is still an open investigation that demands immediate attention. Andreas Garcia and his family deserve it. 

Featured image credit: KOCO 5

Last Updated on January 18, 2023 by Paul G

About Jeanette Centeno

Jeanette Centeno (Taíno) is a nurse with 18 years of experience, ranging from Spinal Cord Injury patients to case management. She is committed to advocating for adequate healthcare and proper intervention for all people. Centeno currently works at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, one of the leading acute care hospitals in treating Spinal Cord Injury.

3 Comments on “We’re Still Waiting for Justice for Andreas Garcia”

  • Avatar for Patricia L Douglass

    Patricia L Douglass


    I hope that the children, parents, teacher and administrators are taught about how the Native Americans feel about their hair! This is just as wrong as has happened to Black kids in our country!

    • Avatar for Lisa



      Please start a change.org campaign for Andreas Garcia and family.

      We need new laws to protect our children! There must be a zero tolerance policy on any kind of abuse or bullying in every school in the US! Zero Tolerance is the only solution to correct this unbelievable decline in school leadership and discipline.

      The teacher should be dismissed immediately, the children involved need to be expelled from the school immediately! The family should be compensated for this horrible treatment. I would accept nothing less!

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