Senior allowed to wear moccasins at graduation

Posted at 10:25 AM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 19:40:11-04

SAPULPA, Okla. – After initially being denied the chance to wear her ceremonial Native America moccasins, one senior is now being allowed to attend her graduation ceremony with the Navajo moccasins.

Liseanne Yazzie says Wednesday called for a celebration. “I was nervous, but I knew what to say and what I wanted to say,” she said.

Sapulpa Public Schools decided to make an exception for Yazzie's moccasins and allow her to wear them on a momentus day for her and her family.

“Being Native American and being able to graduate meant a lot to me and for who I am,” she said.

RELATED: Sapulpa senior denied request to wear traditional Native American moccasins to graduation

After initially standing by the school's dress code, which allows only dress shoes, Sapulpa superintendent Kevin Bur says the district heard from people like the Navajo Nation far and wide.

Yazzie's mother, Michelle Bear Rose, experienced the same thing.

“I had people in Arizona, close to Washington, D.C. and Virginia contacting me about this,” she said. “Even people that were non-Native said, 'it's your right, you need to stand up for it.'”

The district now says ceremonial Native American clothing can and should be considered appropriate for graduation.

In a statement sent out Sapulpa Public Schools says, “After careful consideration and reflection Sapulpa Public Schools has decided to make an exception to previous restrictions regarding footwear.  Native American clothing, especially ceremonial attire (as in this case), can and should be considered appropriate for inclusion in our graduation exercises.”

Yazzie calls it a victory for her Navajo roots and her classmates.

“I'm glad I had the opportunity to hopefully change something and hopefully be able to make it okay for other kids to not have to worry about something like this on Graduation Day,” she said. “I just want them to focus on being proud of themselves.”

Administrators say they're working on procedures to help with similar requests in the future. Sapulpa graduation is Friday.

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