Policy Will Allow Native American High School Students To Bead Graduation Caps

May 21, 2019

Hudda Tendore Rhaelle Curry and Alexus Whiterock playing basketball
Credit Taylar Stagner

Native students and educators alongside the Albany County school board are coming up with a policy to protect beadwork and feathers on graduating seniors' caps.

Currently, there are no guidelines either way. While there are no rules against it, concerned students and parents of graduating seniors would like their beadwork protected.

Alexus Whiterock graduated from Big Piney High School in 2016. Whiterock is Navajo and Shoshone-Paiute, and was told she could not bead her graduation cap.

"Everybody in my family on my parents' reservations does, and I was really hoping I could bead my cap and put a feather on it and they said no. And there was no way they were going to allow me to at all. And they said if I did they would take my cap away from me," she said.

This new policy in Albany County would protect people like Whiterock's right to bead their mortarboard and wear feathers, a tradition that is cultural and personal.

Hudda Curry-Herrera  is a graduating senior and a prominent basketball player at Laramie High School. He spoke in front of the school board earlier this month, and wanted to be a voice for Native kids that are not seniors yet.

"Felt good to represent not only me but the years behind me and all my friends. It felt cool that me and my mom and Dr. Jaime were the ones behind it all."

Curry-Herrera and other Native graduates have been told they are allowed to bead their caps and wear feathers at LHS's graduation May 24.

Jubal Yennie, the superintendent of Albany County School District #1, said he is optimistic about the policy.

"It's not a hard request, and I think the school board is very in favor of making this work."

The school board is expected to pass the policy this summer.