- Delivering Truth Around the World
Custom Search

Recognize Native students' heritage in SD graduation

Lynn H. Flandreau, South Dakota

Smaller Font Larger Font RSS 2.0

June 3, 2013


Chamberlain, SD High School: Let Native American students be recognized with an honor song,

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. — Native American students will not be recognized with an honor song during this year’s commencement ceremony at Chamberlain High School in southeastern South Dakota, despite a renewed effort to add to the graduation tradition.The school board voted 6-1 Monday night to reject a request to allow the song, The Daily Republic newspaper reported ( ). Board President Rebecca Reimer said a feathering ceremony led by the district’s Native American Club the night before graduation honors tribal students, and an honor song during graduation doesn’t seem necessary.“Most schools with our demographics have either a feathering ceremony or an honor song,” Reimer said. “Not both.”Supporters of an honor song presented a petition to the board last month. About one-third of the 900 students in the school district are Indian, and supporters of an honor song say it would be culturally appropriate and might help bridge cultural and racial differences in the community of about 2,400 people.School board members said they want to make sure graduation recognizes educational achievements, rather than favoring one culture over another. The board has rejected honor song requests in the past.“I can’t see how it honors everybody when it’s not in our language, and when I say our language, I mean English,” said board member Casey Hutmacher. “I look at the Pledge of Allegiance and it covers everything.”Board member Steve Fox cast the lone vote in favor of an honor song.“We vote for change all the time,” he said. “And that’s supposed to be our goal, to change in good ways.“I could think of so many reasons to do this for our kids,” Fox said. “Why not give three or five minutes to teach our kids to honor another culture?”Senior Chris Rodriguez, who helped circulate the petition, said he was upset the school board voted against incorporating the honor song but he respected the decision. He also said the effort will continue in future years.“I will come back to the school board because my sister is coming to school here, too,” he said. “I wasn’t just fighting for this year’s seniors. I was fighting for generations after that.”

The person (or organization) who started this petition is not affiliated with did not create this petition and is not responsible for the petition content.