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OKLAHOMA CITY—Yesterday, the Oklahoma Legislature overrode Governor Kevin Stitt’s veto of a tribal regalia bill that will protect American Indian students’ right to wear regalia at graduations.

“Thank you to the members of the Oklahoma Legislature who voted to override Governor Stitt on bills important to the Cherokee Nation and tribal citizens across the state,” Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Chuck Hoskin, Jr. said in a statement to Native News Online. “Nearly every legislator voted to overturn the vetoes.”

The bill becomes law on July 1 and allows any student at a public school, including colleges, universities and technology centers, to wear tribal regalia such as traditional garments, jewelry, or other items of cultural significance at graduation ceremonies. However, the bill specifically prohibits the adornment of items such as a bow and arrow, tomahawk, or “war hammer.”

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The veto override comes amid a lawsuit filed on the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) on behalf of a Native American Oklahoma high school graduate for allegedly being stripped of her regalia at her 2022 graduation ceremony. 

Earlier this month, Native News Online reported that Gov. Stitt, a Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma citizen, vetoed the tribal regalia bill. In his veto message on May 1, Stitt wrote that if the bill became law, it would open up additional efforts by other groups to push for their agendas.   

“Should this bill become law, the proverbial Pandora’s box will be opened for other groups to go over the heads of local superintendents and demand special favor to wear whatever they please at a formal ceremony,” Stitt wrote. 

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE), in 2020, there were approximately 156,000 American Indian students who were enrolled in at least one of the 39 Tribal Nations of Oklahoma.  

“The majority of Oklahomans believe in respecting the rights of Native Americans and working together with the sovereign tribes who share this land,” Hoskin said.   

 

 

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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.