An Illinois high school student was denied the chance 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 high school student from Evanston Township High School, planned to graduate on May 22, wearing his graduation cap adorned with Aboriginal beads and an eagle feather, WLS reported.
Instead, he was taken out of line and sat in the stands with his family as his classmates walked across the stage.
“They wanted him to put on a simple one and he said no, didn’t work then,” his mother, Megan Bang, wrote on Twitter. “I’m so proud of him and furious at the same time.”
Curley told WLS his beaded cap was not intended for decoration to spice up typical graduation badges.
“It’s not just, like, a decorative thing,” he told the outlet. “It’s a religious belief to hold these sacred feathers.”
According to the school located about 15 miles north of Chicago, administrators have “consistently shared” that adornment on caps is not permitted during graduation.
“Two people took it out and started screaming against him,” Bang wrote in another tweet. “…Try to convince him. Both my daughters cried watching this unfold.
However, Curley told WLS the principal hand-delivered his degree and apologized for the incident.
Evanston Township School District 202 confirmed to McClatchy News that the district apologized for the senior’s graduation experience and added that it “takes the opportunity to review our past practices.”
“ETHS is in the process of reviewing graduation guidelines, particularly with respect to recognizing the history and stories of Indigenous students, and we will notify students and families of the changes in the future,” the district said in a statement.
The family started a petition for the district to change its policies. By the afternoon of May 24, the petition received over 10,000 signatures.