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Navajo president says regalia at school graduations is protected after New Mexico incident

The president of the Navajo Nation has directed all schools serving Navajo students to allow them to wear traditional regalia.

The directive came as an executive order issued by President Buu Nygren after a New Mexico high school graduate who is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe was forced to remove her mortarboard. A school administrator clipped a sacred feather plume from the graduating senior’s mortarboard.

"To me, it was just something that we had to do, to really take that strong stance, honor an individual’s culture. Whether they’re Navajo or Sioux or Hopi, wherever they come from," Nygren said in an interview. 

The Navajo Nation First Lady Jasmine Blackwater Nygren attended that graduation and said she hopes the school learns from the experience. President Nygren said the order sends a message that Native students have a right under Navajo, state and federal laws to display cultural and ceremonial regalia at graduation. 

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Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.