Tribal Regalia Policies

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Joy Hofmeister State Seal

Jan. 24, 2022

Dear Superintendent, 

In advance of this school year’s graduation exercises, I strongly encourage your district leadership to examine existing tribal regalia policies in your local communities to ensure their rights are protected. As you know, Oklahoma is officially home to 39 tribal nations—as well as individuals affiliated with many other tribes—that collectively represent a unique cultural foundation in all of our school communities. Our American Indian students value a number of items that pay homage to their cultural heritage.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) directs the collaboration of local education agencies and tribal educational representatives “to meet the unique educational and culturally related academic needs of Indian students; to ensure that Indian students gain knowledge and understanding of Native communities…traditions, and cultures; and to ensure that teachers, principals, other school leaders, and other staff who serve Indian students have the ability to provide culturally appropriate and effective instruction and supports to such students” (20 U.S.C.§ 7402).

We must ensure these supports benefit all students. The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) recommends that those districts required to conduct tribal consultation pursuant to ESSA (20 U.S.C. § 7918) reserve time in this year’s consultation to discuss policies in relation to American Indian students wearing eagle feathers and other culturally significant Native regalia to graduation ceremonies and similar events. For districts not required to conduct such consultations, a policy discussion with local tribal leaders and community members is strongly encouraged.

Thank you for your continued work and commitment to students. 


Joy Signature

Joy Hofmeister
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Enclosed: May 8, 2019 letter from Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter