A Maryland high school, in response to student and community petitions for and against the practice of having the leader of the student section at football games wear a Native American headdress, has decided to ban the practice outright, The Mail Online reports.
One petition, signed online by about 1,500 students as of our press date, claims the wearing of a Native American headdress by the leader of the student section, known as “the tribe,” at sports events is “disrespectful.”
The other petition, signed by some 2,500 people so far, most of them alumni of Linganore High School in Frederick County, and other members of the community outside the school itself, says it’s a tradition:
“This has been a tradition at LHS for several years,” one of the petition’s signers wrote. “We have a long and strong tradition of school spirit. We can not let one person ruin our schools tradition. The head dress has been passed down for years you can’t just come in and take it away from us. If they are pushing the idea of the head dress as offensive and doesn’t represent what a Lancer means then I will assume it will be okay for every member of the tribe to carry a spear with them to the game since that is our team logo and what a Lancer actually means.”
Each year, students vote for one senior to become “the chief.” He has traditionally worn the headdress at football and basketball games.
Principal Nancy Doll said the school would not allow the headdress to be worn as it has been in the past because “actions that create divisiveness are unwarranted at school events”:
I truly respect the history of the school community and its deep sense of pride. We will not take away from it; however, there are times when change is necessary.
We talked with student leaders about several alternatives that would continue the tradition of being passionate fans but would do so in a culturally respectful way.
Tailgating, painting-up, and filling the air with chants of “We Believe That We Will Win” will provide excitement for our student fans as we continue the tradition of positive sportsmanship.
Juan Boston, vice chairman of the board of directors at the Baltimore American Indian Center, told the Frederick News-Post: “We see feathers as gifts from the Creator.
“I’m 58, and in my life, I have received one eagle feather. When you see some people wearing one jumping around like a monkey yelling like an idiot, it is disrespectful to our culture.”
One student, though, said the wearing of the headdress was never meant to be disrespectful and represents one of the biggest traditions the school has.
“It symbolizes the school as one,” he said. “We are all one tribe at Linganore, and I think the headdress just sort of completes that. We all respect the headdress and who’s wearing it. We understand it means something.”