NCAI Youth Commission Statement on Wearing Traditional Regalia at Graduation Ceremonies

Published on May 14, 2019

“We, as American Indian and Alaska Native youth, value the importance of education as a tool to signify the strength and resilience of our ancestors. Gaining knowledge helps us further our indigenous communities for the advancement of our people and toward creating a pathway for the next generations. To show respect to cultures and spiritual beliefs of tribal nations, public schools should protect and preserve the traditional religious rights and cultural practices of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the way the American Indian Religious Freedom Act intended. These rights include sacred eagle feathers and traditional items worn at graduation ceremonies as an expression of cultural and spiritual belief. These items are given to manifest the importance of this achievement, also as a form of honor within one’s tribal nation.

The most important thing we can do is teach our youth the pride and power of their culture. To take away the capacity to express both of these at a milestone like this impedes our ability to continue practicing a traditional rite of passage while living in contemporary society.”

For more information on the NCAI Youth Commission, click here.

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