Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Native Students Protest Exclusion of Traditional Song from Minnesota Graduation Ceremony

More than 40 high school students walked out of class in central Minnesota last Wednesday in response to their school board denying a tribal drum group the right to perform at their upcoming graduation ceremony.

In response to a Hinckley-Finlayson High School student drum group's request for the second year in a row to perform a traditional Honor Song at their May 24 graduation, the school board voted on Monday, May 13, "to limit presentation and performances by extracurricular student groups," according to a statement provided to Native News Online by District Superintendent Brian Masterson.

"The School District's attorney has advised me that allowing extracurricular groups to put on spiritual or religious performances during graduation creates legal risk if members of the community feel the District is endorsing a religious group as part of the graduation ceremony," Masterson said at the school board meeting. "The District needs to avoid the perception that it is endorsing any religion as part of graduation, as courts have found that violates the Establishment Clause."


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