A bill passed by the Montana State Senate would allow students to wear “traditional tribal regalia or objects of cultural significance” at public events like graduation ceremonies, and prohibit state agencies or municipal authorities, including schools, from banning such accessories.  Some Billings schools already allow students to decorate graduation caps.  West and Skyview high schools let students attach a feather to their cap but do not permit additional decorations.


The practice is certainly not exclusive to Native American students.  Restrictions also affect ethnic and religious groups who wear non-Western garb, like hijabs.  In Elk Grove, California last May, a black student was removed from his high school graduation ceremony for wearing a special fabric that expressed his African heritage.  Billings Democratic Sen. Jen Gross cited “systemic discrimination” against Native Americans, supporting their status as Montana’s largest minority.

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