End Cultural bias toward Native American students: Let Native children express their culture

  • by: Joye Braun
  • recipient: Sylvia Akinson, Superintendent, Los Fresnos CISD
Two Native American students at the Roeseca Middle School in Los Fresnos Texas showed pride in their heritage, were isolated from classmates, and spent the first days of school in In School Suspension for wearing their hair in braids.
We the undersigned request the Los Fresnos School District to change their policy regarding length of hair when a child chooses to enter their school district who is of Native American heritage. For generations our Native ancestors were forced, through U.S. Government policy which sanctioned schools to forcibly strip Native students of their cultural identity. Part of this stripping of identity was to cut or shave the hair from Native American students who were sent to schools accross the United States. To have a policy which demands that a Native student cut their hair today damages that student's sense of cultural pride, hurts their self esteem, and spits in the eye of their forefathers who railed against policies which stripped Native children of their identity. To have a policy today which segregates Native students who have chosen to honor their traditions, who have chosen to be actively involved in their cultural identity and tribal customs is outdated, antiquated, unjust, and sanctions a cultural bias which sadly perpetuates sterotypes, while harming and ipeding a child's right to learn in a safe and accepting environment. We urge the School district to think clearly and rethink this policy which is harming Native children and their right to a quality education. 
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