Following Through on Policy with Meaningful Action

Kristen Talbert

ILA Project Coordinator

Coming from Minnesota, I never gave a second thought to wearing traditional regalia and an eagle feather at my graduation ceremony. In fact, it was encouraged. It wasn’t until I moved to Arizona that I learned, until recently, students were barred from wearing both. This made me deeply sad and frustrated for the students who were so proud to graduate but were unable to express their pride by wearing their traditional regalia and eagle feathers. However, with the passing of HB2705 in Arizona, students can now wear traditional regalia to their graduation. 

For Arizona Indigenous graduates, HB2705 represents more than the ability to wear traditional regalia during a graduation ceremony. HB2705 also represents a positive change, specifically broadening the the idea of what is considered professional or appropriate attire. The passing of this bill is significant because the idea of professionalism and appropriate attire is often defined through the lens of non-Indigenous society. In showing graduates they can proudly wear their regalia they are being told that their attire is appropriate and professional. Graduation is a big deal for any Indigenous student, and allowing them to express their cultural identities at such an important milestone also serves an additional function. In choosing to wear their regalia, Indigenous high school graduates are marking the transition from childhood to adulthood, and are thus beginning to advocate for themselves. Through their actions, they are learning to become the next generation of leaders.

Leadership and HB2705 especially resonate with me. My daughter is graduating high school this year. We emailed her principal and the director of the activities office to let them know that she will be wearing her traditional regalia and eagle feather to graduation. They responded with excitement and were happy for her.  Through our actions, we are showing our daughter that leadership means asserting yourself, and in allowing students to wear their traditional regalia, students are encouraged to tap into traditional leadership styles. If we don’t enforce the bill, it’s just a bill. It’s on us to encourage students to wear their regalia. Henana, pidamaya ye (that is all, thank you). Kristen

For more information on HB2705, here  are some helpful links: