NATIONAL NEWS

A Lakota student’s feather plume was cut off her cap during commencement at a New Mexico high school

May 17, 2024, 12:37 PM

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A Lakota student’s traditional feather plume was cut off her graduation cap during her high school commencement ceremony this week in northwestern New Mexico.

It was during the national anthem Monday night when Farmington High School faculty members approached the student, Genesis White Bull, and confiscated her cap, the Tri-City Record reported. The top of it had been decorated with traditional beadwork and an aópazan — Lakota for plume.

White Bull is Hunkpapa Lakota of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota.

Farmington’s school district said in a statement Wednesday that it prohibits any modifications to graduation caps and gowns, but students can wear traditional regalia beneath their graduation attire.

“While the staff involved were following district guidelines, we acknowledge this could have been handled differently and better,” the statement said.

About 34% of the school district’s roughly 11,200 students are Native American or Alaska Natives. The community of Farmington sits on the border of the vast Navajo Nation.

Brenda White Bull, the student’s mother, approached the faculty members after they removed her daughter’s cap, asking if she could remove the plume herself. The faculty members used scissors to cut it off, she said.

Navajo Nation First Lady Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren, who attended the commencement Monday night, said on Facebook that she was disappointed and called on school officials to allow Native American students the choice to wear traditional regalia at graduation.

“Deciding what to wear goes far beyond a simple decision of what color dress or shoes to wear,” Blackwater-Nygren said. “For Native students, this is a day to proudly wear our traditional regalia. Our regalia reminds us of how far we’ve come as a people, it shows our pride in our culture, and how we chose to identify ourselves as Native people.”

Robert Taboada, a school district spokesperson, told The Associated Press on Friday that district officials were working with the Navajo Nation’s Department of Diné Education to review and update its policies on graduation attire. Taboada declined to comment further.

Brenda White Bull told the Farmington newspaper that the family had prayed together before placing the plume on the cap.

“That’s part of our culture,” she said. “When we reach a milestone in our life, we as Lakotas decorate, do our beadwork and place our plume on them.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says the school owes Genesis White Bull an apology.

“To be humiliated during one of her young life’s most celebrated moments is unacceptable,” Chairwoman Janet Alkire said.

Brenda White Bull said Wednesday that school officials haven’t reached out. Efforts to reach her Friday for comment weren’t immediately successful.

National News

FILE - This artist depiction shows Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira, right, appea...

Associated Press

Pentagon leaker Jack Teixeira to face a military court-martial, Air Force says

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira, who pleaded guilty in March to federal criminal charges for leaking highly classified military documents, will now face a military court-martial. Teixeira admitted to illegally collecting some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets and sharing them on the social media platform Discord. He is facing […]

13 minutes ago

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is seen during the Republica...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump accuse each other of weakening America’s foreign policy. Here are the facts

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a relative rarity for presidential elections, both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have long records on foreign policy and clearly stated positions on many of the world’s hot spots. Trump’s allies at the Republican National Convention are expected to argue that Biden has weakened America’s standing abroad and […]

17 minutes ago

FILE - Turbines operate at the Block Island Wind Farm, Dec. 7, 2023, off the coast of Block Island,...

Associated Press

Blade collapse, New York launch and New Jersey research show uneven progress of offshore wind

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Three events Wednesday highlighted the uneven progress of the offshore wind industry in the Northeast, including the start of a major project in New York, research aimed at preventing environmental damage in New Jersey, and a temporary shutdown of a wind farm in Massachusetts after a broken turbine blade washed […]

30 minutes ago

Associated Press

New York City councilwoman arrested for allegedly biting officer during protest, police say

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City councilwoman was arrested Wednesday for allegedly biting a police officer during a chaotic protest over the construction of a new homeless shelter in Brooklyn, police said. The councilwoman, Susan Zhuang, is being charged with assault, resisting arrest and obstruction, a police spokeswoman said. Zhuang’s office did not […]

31 minutes ago

FILE - A TV screen shows a file image of American soldier Travis King during a news program at the ...

Associated Press

Army private who fled to North Korea is in talks to resolve military charges, lawyer says

WASHINGTON (AP) — A lawyer for an Army private who fled to North Korea and was later charged with desertion and possessing sexual images of a child said Wednesday that he was in negotiations with military prosecutors to resolve the case against his client. Army Pvt. Travis King had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing […]

35 minutes ago

Associated Press

Mother of 3-year-old found dead at recycling center feared ex-husband would harm daughter

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The mother of a 3-year-old girl whose body was found in a San Francisco Bay Area recycling center over the weekend said Tuesday she feared for her daughter’s well-being whenever the child was with her ex-husband, who authorities said died by suicide and is suspected in the child’s death. San Jose […]

42 minutes ago

A Lakota student’s feather plume was cut off her cap during commencement at a New Mexico high school