New law preserves Native American regalia at graduation ceremonies
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill on Wednesday, Sept. 1, allowing Native American students to wear traditional tribal regalia at graduation ceremonies.
Graduation is one of the proudest moments in a student’s life, Ducey said in a news release, and students should be able to wear items that honor their culture an beliefs.
“Today’s bill signing ceremony is an important event for Arizona and native cultures,” Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis was quoted as saying. “Our students should be able to wear their traditional regalia at graduations with pride. I’m thankful to Governor Ducey and the Arizona legislature for recognizing the importance of this issue and taking action to protect this cultural right.”
The law prohibits schools from establishing a dress code that prohibits students from wearing traditional tribal regalia or objects of cultural significance at such ceremonies. Among the objects specified in the law are an eagle feather and an eagle plume.
Before the law was passed, schools could not prohibit students from wearing religious or cultural accessories during extracurricular activities.
“All Arizonans should have the right to exercise religion and speech under the First Amendment of our Constitution, and this law upholds that,” Ducey was quoted as saying.
The bill was sponsored by then State Rep. Arlando Teller, a member of the Navajo Nation. After he left his seat to become the Deputy Assistant for Indian Affairs with the U.S. Department of Transportation, State Rep. Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren assumed his role and took the lead on getting the bill passed.
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