Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Beaded graduation caps pass, other Native representation bills killed

Kealey Bultena

A measure allowing Native American students to wear beaded graduation caps has passed the House Education Committee. However, the committee killed two other bills dealing with the representation of Native Americans in public schools.

The beaded-cap bill expands on existing law allowing Native American students to wear eagle feathers at graduation.

The other bills discussed by the House Education committee were House Bill 1184 and 1183.

House bill 1184 required schools to play the Lakota Flag Song or another honor song at a graduation ceremony if requested by a graduating student. The committee killed that bill by a vote of 12 to 3.

House bill 1183 prohibited schools from using team names and mascots offensive to Native American people and culture.

Wade Pogany with the Associated School Boards says this issue should be decided by individual school districts.

“Derogatory is a very subjective word and we don’t know, we don’t know what the mechanism is. Can anybody go to a school board and say I think the team name is derogatory? What authority could make this decision?"

The bill allowed schools with 50 percent or more Native American representation to have Native American team names and mascots.

Ross Garelick Bell is a lobbyist for the Oglala Lakota, Yankton and Crow Creek Sioux Tribes.

“If the community understands the terminology, which you’d presume if over 50 percent of the students are of that community, then there’s going to be a respect when you’re using that mascot. Versus a community that doesn’t understand the background.”

The measure was killed by a vote of 12 to 2.