- By Levi Rickert
CHOCTAW, Miss. — American Indian students in Mississippi no longer have to worry about wearing regalia or other cultural objects, such as an eagle feather on their caps, at graduation ceremonies.
Senate Bill 2595, also known as the Tribal Regalia Bill, was signed into law by Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves late last month and went into effect on July 1.
The new regalia law recognizes the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians as the only federally recognized tribe in Mississippi and acknowledges the tribe’s unique cultural heritage. The law states that a government entity may not prohibit an individual––a member or descendent of a federally recognized tribe––from wearing traditional regalia or objects of cultural significance at a public event including, but not limited to, an award ceremony, graduation or public meeting.
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben, who worked on getting the bill approved by the Mississippi State Legislature, hailed the bill’s passage and signing as a true testament to the strong government-to-government relationship it has with state officials.
“This has been an interest of mine for many years. I have worked on this project for two years and had the opportunity to speak with local officials and work hand-in-hand with our state representatives to ensure this bill’s passage,” Ben said. “I thank Representative Scott Bounds for his leadership in the State House and Senator Jenifer Branning for sponsoring this bill and to all those who voted to pass this bill.”
Ben added that the bill is a giant step toward protecting the Choctaw people’s right to show “our love and pride for our culture, no matter where we might be.”
Senate Bill 2595 was introduced in February 2020 and was voted on in both the Mississippi Senate and House on June 23, 2020. Gov. Reeves signed the bill on June 29, 2020.
More Stories Like ThisHistory Was Made as Nicole Aunapu Mann Became the First Native American Woman Launched into Space
Tribal Business News Round Up: Oct. 4
Hurricane Ian Slams Southwest Florida, But Mostly Spares Reservations
Department of the Interior Announces South Dakota Third Stop on Road to Healing Tour
Minnesotta Governor Tim Walz Proclaims Sept. 30 “Day of Remembrance for U.S. Indian Boarding Schools.”
Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news?
For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.
Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10. Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.