Chelsey Ramer, a 17-year old member of the Poarch Creek Band of Indians, graduated on May 23 from Escambia Academy High School in Alabama – and paid the price for it.
As a show of pride in her heritage, the student donned an eagle feather in her cap… which was considered a dress code violation and which resulted in a $1,000 fine.
The school had passed around a contract prior to the event that said participants were not permitted to wear “extraneous items during graduation exercises unless approved by the administration.”
Ramer did not sign the document, but she was told by the then-headmaster that she did not have permission for the feather.
Still, she has no regrets.
“It was worth it. It means a lot to me,” Ramer told a local TV station, though she did add: “I don’t think it’s fair at all. I feel like its discrimination.”
Former teacher and Creek tribe member Alex Alvarez agrees.
He said he was denied the chance to speak with the administration about the issue leading up to graduation, telling the Indian Country Today Media Network:
“I think this is ridiculous. If they took the time to understand and respect the differences in individuals, this would have never happened. We don’t have much left as Indian people, to give a child an eagle feather as an achievement should be adhered to.”