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School takes eagle feather from local student upon graduation

“Both of my children graduated with eagle feathers. That would have been an amazing sight.”

School removes native eagle feather during graduation ceremony
Source: TikTok | @teachingaltar1

There was outrage over a high school employee’s decision to tell a Native American graduate that she could not wear a feather or medicine wheel on her cap during the ceremony.

A TikTok user with the username LakotaWiyanGrace (@teachingaltar1) recently caused a stir when he stated that recording this incident not only shows how disrespectful it is to force a student to remove her ceremonial clothing, but that it could also get a school employee into big trouble. Legal problems.

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“They make her remove her quill and her medicine wheel,” someone can be heard commenting on the video. The video shows one person helping a student remove the aforementioned items from her graduation cap.

“Graduating from Farmington High School…cap taken away,” read a social media post from a user named Ducky Duckie above the video, which was reposted to TikTok. The clip exists as a green screen – in the video you can see LakotaWiyanGrace’s head floating with a finger over her mouth.

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The video then switches to LakotaWiyanGrace, who looks sternly into the camera. She puts her finger to her lips again and says, “I don’t know if those of you who aren’t native understand what this means,” she says, emphasizing the sternness of the high school graduate who rides the feather and medicine wheel takes out of his body. ceremonial hat.

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“Earning a feather is a great achievement. And wearing that feather is even more. It’s a cultural thing. It is a sign of insignia. We don’t just give feathers to anyone, you have to earn them. And she has worked very hard for twelve years to achieve that,” LakotaWiyanGrace tells her viewers.

“I want to remind people that no one is allowed to own or hold eagle feathers, only tribal members who wear them for ceremonial purposes, and that is what this is about. So the woman who grabbed and held this feather may have committed a crime.”

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School removes native eagle feather during graduation ceremony
Source: TikTok | @teachingaltar1

“In the rest of the video you can see her trying not to cry,” LakotaWiyanGrace also said.

It appears that the TikToker’s suggestion that there could be legal issues is consistent with the laws published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: “The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 USC 668-668d), which is in 1940, and has been amended several times since, prohibits anyone from “taking” bald or golden eagles, including their body parts (including feathers), nests, or eggs, without permission from the Secretary of the Interior.

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The government agency further stated that possession of bald eagle feathers is only permitted if the person belongs to a federally recognized tribe, is at least 18 years old and the parts are used in the context of religious ceremonies/for religious purposes.

“Yes, only registered members of federally recognized tribes who are at least 18 years of age may request to receive and possess eagle carcasses, parts and feathers from the repository for religious purposes,” the website said.

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School removes native eagle feather during graduation ceremony
Source: TikTok | @teachingaltar1

LakotaWiyanGrace elaborated on this in her TikTok, explaining that aside from the potential legal ramifications the woman who took the eagle feather might face, the fact that the high school graduate’s work was devalued main point of her video was.

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“No one is legally allowed to wear eagle feathers, only Indians can do that. But she… she earned that feather. She worked for it for more than ten years. And that’s why we make such a big deal out of it. States across the country have been pushing to allow Native Americans to wear their feathers at graduation.”

The TikToker continued, “Farmington, New Mexico did not do this and they need to move with the times. Farmington…is doing better.”

Another responded to LakotaWiyanGrace’s post, accusing several institutions of also banning their students from participating in other indigenous ceremonial practices.

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School removes native eagle feather during graduation ceremony
Source: TikTok | @teachingaltar1

They wrote: “The Duluth, Minnesota school board just voted to ban the Ojibwa band from performing a drumming ceremony at a high school graduation. This is disrespectful to say the least.”

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Others said their high school graduation felt very different: “I got to wear my feather on my cap and I wore it with pride, not just for myself but for everyone who doesn’t! My heart breaks for her, she can never get that moment back, that was so disrespectful to them.”

Someone else noted that things are very different in her home state of New Mexico: “Why did they do that??!! I’m from NM and we were taught to have a lot of respect for the native people. I bet this woman/school will hear about Deb Haaland too.”

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