A Maryland high school has banned a headdress worn during athletic events following complaints about it being offensive to Native Americans.
Students vote for an incoming senior to become the ‘chief’ of the student section, which is called ‘the tribe.’
The leader then wears the headdress for football and basketball games.
Students vote for an incoming senior to become the ‘chief’ of the student section, which is called ‘the tribe’
Linganore High School Principal Nancy Doll said the school would not allow the headdress to be worn as it has been in private years because ‘actions that create divisiveness are unwarranted at school events’.
She added: ‘I truly respect the history of the school community and its deep sense of pride. We will not take away from it; however, there are times when change is necessary.’
‘We talked with student leaders about several alternatives that would continue the tradition of being passionate fans but would do so in a culturally respectful way.
‘Tailgating, painting-up, and filling the air with chants of ‘We Believe That We Will Win’ will provide excitement for our student fans as we continue the tradition of positive sportsmanship.’
Petitions for and against the ban have each garnered more than 1,500 signatures.
The petition to bring the headdress back has now amassed almost 2,000 signatures, with most coming from community members and alumni.
Linganore High School Principal Nancy Doll said the school would not allow the headdress to be worn as it has been in private years because ‘actions that create divisiveness are unwarranted at school events’
Juan Boston, vice chairman of the board of directors at the Baltimore American Indian Center, told the Frederick News-Post: ‘We see feathers as gifts from the Creator.
‘I’m 58, and in my life, I have received one eagle feather. When you see some people wearing one jumping around like a monkey yelling like an idiot, it is disrespectful to our culture.’
He added: ‘It’s like if someone were to wear an Army general’s uniform and parade around jumping and yelling making a mockery of it. The outcry would be incredible.’
However Jacob Garwood, a senior at the school who had been chosen to be chief, said it was never meant to cause offence.
He said: ‘We take a lot of pride in this tradition and it means a lot to us. I hope there is a way we can work something out so we can keep the tradition but allow everyone to feel welcome.’
Harry Rasmussen, a former student and last year’s elected chief, added: ‘I understand that it may be offensive to some people but it has been, in my opinion at least, the biggest tradition Linganore has.
‘It’s been passed down for more years than I know. It’s not meant to be demeaning or have bad intentions. It symbolizes the school as one. We are all one tribe at Linganore, and I think the headdress just sort of completes that.
‘We all respect the headdress and who’s wearing it. We understand it means something.’