Native American imagery removed from Sisseton homecoming

By  | 

SISSETON - Dozens of students from Sisseton High School showed up to a school board meeting last night begging members to keep Native American imagery in their homecoming celebration.

Despite the show of support the school board decided to remove all Native American images and depictions from homecoming ceremonies this year and in the future.

The students on the homecoming committee wanted to keep the imagery because it's a long-running tradition that they look forward to each year, but the school board says it's time to start being sensitive to the Native American culture.

It's a debate the school has had for years: is using the Native American imagery in the school appropriate?

"There's been a strong community support to keep it the way it is because it really is a beautiful ceremony," says Michael Neil Terhune, the public school district's Superintendent.

But after running out of time to plan the specifics of the outfits students would wear during the ceremony, they made a last minute decision to remove the images all together, leaving the student committee just a few days to plan something new.

"The students are disappointed that they were given this information in such a short amount of time," says Holly Borgheiinck, the school's Student Council Advisor. "It is a tight timeline for them to put something together that's meaningful that they can appreciate and be honored as seniors."

The superintendent says the school board was proud of students for stepping up, but their decision honored the greater good. Some feel wearing the garments can be seen as cultural appropriation, rather than showing respect.

"We're not just talking about the Sissteon Wahpeton Oyate, we're talking about the dakota nation," says Terhune. "And the same thing with other cultures would it be Hispanic, African American."

Now the superintendent wishes to put this debate behind them and put the focus on academics moving forward.

The homecoming ceremony will be held next week and the students plan to use Greek mythology as their theme instead.