Oklahoma Teen Refuses To Cut Hair

Tuesday, February 3rd 2009, 11:08 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

STILWELL, OK -- An Adair County boy could be in big trouble for refusing to shave his head.  Cutting kids' hair is part of a boot camp program the boy was sentenced to complete.  But, his family says his hair is an important part of his Native American culture.

Charlie Pathkiller is a 13 year old who, like many other kids his age, is into his hair.

"It's my life basically.  I love it," said Charlie Pathkiller.

But, he almost lost his locks after a fight with his friend at his Stilwell school.  Charlie's family claims it was a minor incident, but the other boy's mother called the police.  As a result, the 13 year old was sent to a first offenders program and then to a boot camp in Tahlequah.

His mother believes because the fight started after a couple of boys got into a fight at the middle school, in this case, the punishment really doesn't fit the crime.

"It's a 13-year-old boy.  You don't shave a kid's head for punching someone else," said Charlie's mother, Cindy Pathkiller.

The Pathkillers are Cherokee, and say long hair is a crucial aspect of their religion and culture.

"Just look around Stilwell.  Drive through and you'll see people everywhere.  That's just part of our nationality.  I don't think he should be punished for that," said Cindy Pathkiller.

But, it's not as if Charlie is being singled out.  The other Stilwell kids sent to the camp must shave their heads.

"Well it's not that he's so special, but sometimes someone has to be the first to stand up and say I don't want to do this," Donna Shockley, Adair County Court Advocate.

And, Charlie won't do it.  His mother says the boy will complete boot camp, perform community service, do whatever it takes, but all with a full head of hair.

Charlie was back in front of a judge on Tuesday.  The judge ordered Charlie to return to boot camp later this month.

The family says no matter the consequences, they will not allow his hair to be cut.