A Native American student in the first-grade had his long hair forcibly cut off by two other students while attending school at Del City Elementary in Oklahoma. 

However, because of a snow storm followed by the school’s spring break, the boy’s family wasn’t contacted by school administration until Saturday morning. 

“The investigation into this incident began the same day (as the incident),” Del City Superintendent Dr. Rick Cobb said in a statement on March 17, a week after the incident. “Unfortunately, this was followed by a snow day and then Spring Break. While this time away from school has led to some delays in the investigation, we are taking this incident very seriously.”

Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.

KCCO 5 News reported the boy’s name as Andreas Garcia and he’s Kickapoo. 

“I was mad,” Andreas Garcia told KCCO as he retold his story on Friday. The incident happened after Andreas finished his homework, while his classroom teacher was focused on her laptop. 

“This is our tradition,” said Andreas’s mother Denise Gonzales to KFOR. “He loves his hair and he took the time to grow it out.”

The school district said that it recognizes the significance of hair to students’ identities and is taking the issue seriously. The district also said that it can’t complete the investigation until school resumes on Monday. 

“Any students found to be involved will receive discipline in a manner consistent with steps outlined in our student handbook,” Cobb said.  

The incident is one of several incidents in the region that involves the forced cutting of a Native boy’s hair against his or his family’s will. 

Last fall, in Texas, Native News Online reported a family’s complaint against a school district for punishing a kindergarten student via in-school suspension because he had long hair while attending Martinez Elementary School in Texas. ACLU Texas filed a complaint on behalf of the boy’s family to the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights asking the agency to investigate civil rights violations. 

ACLU Texas alleged the case constitutes race and religion discrimination because the boy was  a Native American student. 

This is a developing story.

More Stories Like This

Navajo Nation Leaders Recognized the Fallen on Memorial Day
This Day in History — May 28, 1830, Andrew Jackson Signs Indian Removal Act
Native News Weekly (May 28, 2023): D.C. Briefs
Oklahoma Legislature Overrides Governor Stitt’s Veto of Native Regalia Bill
Native Bidaské with Lummi Nation Chairman Anthony Hillaire on the Opioid Crisis

Native News is free to read.

We hope you enjoyed the story you've just read. For the past dozen years, we’ve covered the most important news stories that are usually overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the rise of the American Indian Movement (AIM), to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous People (MMIP) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools.

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 to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps.  Most readers donate between $10 and $25 to help us cover the costs of salaries, travel and maintaining our digital platforms. If you’re in a position to do so, we ask you to consider making a recurring donation of $12 per month to join the Founder's Circle. All donations help us remain a force for change in Indian Country and tell the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Author: Darren ThompsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a staff reporter for Native News Online who is based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.