CLINTON, Okla. — Social media was abuzz this week with news about a fifth-grade Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes boy in Clinton, Okla. who was knocked to the floor in a school bathroom by two non-Native students who cut his ponytail off.

Twelve-year-old Dominque Lonebear was followed into the bathroom by two fellow students at Washington Elementary School on Tuesday when the incident took place. According to Lonebear, he was finishing going to the bathroom when he was knocked down and one Caucasian held him face down while another Caucasian boy cut his hair. He was so traumatized he did not report the incident to school authorities. He did tell his 16-year-old sister who posted what happened on social media.

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Lonebear’s hair was mid-way down his back, but now is significantly shorter, according to his uncle.

Dominique missed two days of school because he was afraid of retaliation.

Lonebear is being raised by his maternal grandmother Laquita Lonebear, a retired nurse. She is so disturbed by the incident she has had difficulty sleeping since she found out about it, according to Dominque’s uncle, Francis Lonebear, a welder who lives and works in Oklahoma City. 

“Three members of the Clinton Police Department just left her house, and she is too tired to talk right now,” Francis Lonebear told Native News Online. “It’s really too bad, but the police are trying to make out that my nephew cut his own hair. The police told my mom that the boys denied cutting Dominque’s hair.”

Francis Lonebear said that while he wasn’t there, he believed his nephew. He also says it is typical for authorities in Clinton to always take the other side’s side of a story.

“I wore long hair when I was young and Dominque wears chose to wear his hair long too,” Lonebear says. “When I was young, I attended the same school and kids picked on me about my hair. So, I guess it continues.”

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Lonebear said the family heard there is a surveillance camera in the hallway near the bathroom that captured video of two Caucasian boys going into the bathroom. He says the family would like to see the video.

On Thursday, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Gov. Reggie Wassana issued a press release about the incident. He said the Cheyenne and Arapaho people encourage tribal boys to wear long hair for religious and cultural reasons. He requested that the administrators and leaders of the Clinton Public Schools take the situation very seriously.

“Violence toward our children because they are Cheyenne, Arapaho, or any other tribe should not be tolerated. School policies should reflect a respect for our Cheyenne and Arapaho children,” Wassana said.

Both the Lonebear family and Wassana would like to see a positive outcome to the incident. They both would like to see more education about Native American culture taught in the Clinton Public Schools.

Wassana and other leaders of the tribes will meet on Friday, Sept. 3, to discuss a path moving forward, according to the press release.

Of the Clinton Public School student body, only seven percent are Native Americans.

An email on Thursday afternoon went to the superintendent of Clinton Public Schools, Tyler Bridges, went unanswered. Native News Online also has a telephone call into the Clinton Police Department for comment.

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Levi Rickert
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Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. He can be reached at [email protected]