Poarch Creek Band of Indians High Schooler Can Finally Graduate

Alabama's Escambia Academy decides that a Native student's decision to wear feather during graduation doesn't merit a fine or loss of diploma.

By Aura Bogado Jun 20, 2013

17-year-old Chelsey Ramer is a Poarch Creek Band of Indians member who wore an eagle feather in her graduation cap during her graduation ceremony at Escambia Academy High School, a private school in Atmore, Alabama last month. Feathers, and eagle feathers in particular, hold a special significance for many Natives (which is federally recognized), and are sometimes used to commemorate special events–graduations included.

Yet Ramer was fined $1,000, prevented from accessing her high school transcripts, and was deprived of the diploma she earned for wearing the eagle feather because of a bizarre and racist contract (which Ramer did not sign) that outlined that feathers are not allowed to be worn during graduation. Three other Native students were so fearful of the school’s exclusionary policy that they declined to wear an eagle feather.

An online petition called "Chelsey Ramer can’t graduate because she is proud to be Native American" was created in response to the incident, and raised more than enough money to cover the $1,000 fine–but it turns out it Ramer won’t be fined at all. ICTMN reports that the school has reversed its decision, and Ramer has now received her diploma.