Anchorage policy shift allows tribal regalia at graduations

West High School graduate, David Paoli shows his sealskin commencement cap in 2021. A faculty worker took his sealskin cap away, saying it violated the principles.  (Photo courtesy of Ayyu Qassataq)

Alaska’s largest college district has up to date its coverage to permit college students to put on gadgets expressive of their cultural heritage and identification throughout commencement.

The coverage now permits college students throughout the Anchorage School District to adorn their commencement cap or robe with “traditional objects of tribal regalia or recognized objects of cultural significance.”

The coverage change got here after some households discovered the earlier coverage of looking for approval to put on conventional regalia insulting, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

“It is completely inappropriate for there to be anyone in a position of authority to tell Native people when and where we can wear our cultural regalia, in particular around rites of passage,” stated Ayyu Qassataq, who’s Inupiaq. Her son was one of many college students final yr who was informed they may not put on regalia at commencement.

Related: Anchorage School District to reexamine coverage after college students prevented from sporting cultural regalia at commencement

That state of affairs led to apologies, a suspension of the rule and the up to date coverage.

Suella Wendell, who’s Yup’ik, plans to put on regalia subsequent yr at her commencement ceremony at Chugiak High, together with a Yup’ik headdress created by an elder from Toksook Bay and mukluks. She a member of the Native Advisory Committee, one of many teams that helped change the coverage this yr.

“We wanted to get the message across that everyone, including other cultures, are invited to wear their own regalia,” Wendell stated.

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