A seven year-old boy who from St. George, Utah was recently dismissed from school early because he wore his hair in the traditional style of his heritage. The mohawk, which showcased his native roots of his family background.
He is descendant of the Paiute and Seneca tribes and desired to communicate his culture to his classmates. His elementary school, however, had other ideas. They believed that his hairstyle served as a “distraction” to the rest of the students and that it wasn’t up to dress code guidelines. They refused to allow him to return to school… That is, until the Seneca Nation wrote them a letter clarifying just exactly what the mohawk means.
The men of the Seneca tribe wore their hair that way as a means of fighting back against prejudice and discrimination from others who don’t quite understand their backgrounds. People like the elementary administration.
Seneca Nation tribal counselor William Canella said that he was disappointed by the education system that didn’t seem to promote healthy diversity amongst its student body. He stated that he strongly urges the young man to ignore this kind of mistreatment and to be proud of his heritage no matter what others say.
Educational superintendent Red Wilkey noted that the distinction between appropriate and inappropriate in a school dress code can often be foggy. He said that while some outfits and accessories are obvious problems, others are harder to classify – students sport all types of outfits and that can be difficult for the school staff to assess.
Either way, the Native Americans have been put through enough crap in a system we forced on them at the point of a sword. Can’t we at least represent themselves to the world according to their heritage? Let us know what you think.