Wearing Native American regalia kept Illinois high school student from grad walk

Screencap from Twitter
·2 min read

An Illinois high school senior was denied the opportunity to walk with his graduating class because he refused to remove a beaded cap and feather representing his Native American heritage.

Nimkii Curley, a 17-year-old senior at Evanston Township High School, planned to graduate on May 22, wearing his graduation cap adorned with Native beads and an eagle feather, WLS reported.

Instead, he was pulled out of line and sat in the stands with his family while his classmates crossed the stage.

“They wanted him to put on a plain one and he said nope not walking then,” his mother, Megan Bang, wrote on Twitter. “I’m so proud of him and furious at the same time.”

Curley told WLS that his beaded cap was not for decoration to spice up typical graduation regalia.

“It’s not just, like, a decorative thing,” he told the news outlet. “It’s a religious belief to hold these feathers sacred.”

According to the school about 15 miles north of Chicago, administrators have “consistently shared” that adornment on caps is not allowed during graduation.

“Two people pulled him out and started yelling at him,” Bang wrote in another tweet. “...Trying to convince him. Both my daughters cried watching this unfold.”

However, Curley told WLS that the principal hand-delivered his diploma and apologized for the incident.

Evanston Township High School District 202 confirmed to McClatchy News that the district had apologized for the senior’s graduation experience and added that it is “taking the opportunity to examine our past practices.”

“ETHS is reviewing the graduation guidelines, particularly as they relate to acknowledging the history and stories of indigenous students, and we will let students and families know when there are changes in the future,” the district said in a statement.

The family has started a petition for the district to change its policies. As of the afternoon of May 24, the petition received more than 10,000 signatures.

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