On May 1, 2023, Governor Kevin Stitt vetoed Oklahoma Senate Bill 429, which would have protected and affirmed Native students’ right to wear tribal regalia during graduation ceremonies. The bill was incredibly popular in the state and had passed both houses of the Oklahoma legislature with almost unanimous bipartisan support.

Native American Rights Fund (NARF) Deputy Director Matthew Campbell responded to the veto, “Wearing eagle feathers and regalia to graduation is already a protected religious freedom for Native students. The Oklahoma bill was simply an affirmation of those rights. Unfortunately, Governor Stitt’s veto sends a message to Native students that, in Oklahoma, Native students must choose between their culture and religious freedoms and celebrating their achievements.” Oklahoma is one of four states that have proposed similar tribal regalia bills this year: Oklahoma, Colorado, Minnesota, and North Carolina. Staff from NARF’s Boulder, Colorado, office recently provided testimony to the Colorado legislature on this issue. Learn more about this issue at https://narf.org/cases/graduation/

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