Student Loses Bid To Wear Eagle Feather On Graduation Cap

Thursday, May 21st 2015, 3:27 pm
By: News On 6

A Tulsa federal judge has ruled that an American Indian student at Caney Valley High School can't wear an eagle feather on her graduation cap.

Chief U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell accepted a magistrate's recommendation to deny senior Hayden Griffith's request for a preliminary injunction that would allow her wear the feather during her graduation ceremony Thursday.

5/19/2015 Related Story: Magistrate Rules Against Caney Valley Senior Wearing Eagle Feather At Graduation

Frizzell said Griffith failed to demonstrate a violation of the state's Religious Freedom Act or her rights to free speech and religion.

The school district doesn't allow decorations on graduation caps and has no exception for religious freedom, or freedom of speech.

Caney Valley Superintendent, Rick Peters said, "We thought we more than substantiated the claims, that we have a policy in place and we're going to adhere by it."

The school has offered alternatives, saying she can carry it or wear it in her hair, but Griffith considers that disrespectful to the Native American symbol of faith.

Griffith says she is Cherokee and Delaware and that the feather was given to her by an elder in the Delaware tribe during a blessing ceremony on her 18th birthday.

A similar case was dismissed against the Moore school district this week. Susan Alexander, on behalf of her daughter who attended Southmoore High School, dropped the suit.

Possession of eagle feathers is illegal. An exception is made for federally recognized tribe members, who can obtain a permit to possess one.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.