Clovis High School
student gets to wear eagle's feather during graduation after district
High senior Christian Titman holds his graduation tassel with
a hawk feather, after a hearing at the B.F. Sisk Courthouse.
He wants to wear an eagle feather during graduation ceremonies.
(photo by John Walker - Fresno Bee)
A Native American student declared victory this week in a face-off
with Clovis High School after district officials initially barred
him from wearing a ceremonial eagle's feather on his cap during
Christian Titman, 18, a member of the Pit River Tribe, had asked
the Clovis Unified School District in April if he could wear an
eagle's feather that his father had given him; the feather is about
3 or 4 inches long.
The central California district said no, citing its dress code.
Items such as rosaries are prohibited too, the district said in
"It's really simple. They're telling me, 'Don't be proud you're
Indian. Don't be proud of your heritage. Don't be proud of your
accomplishment," Titman told the Los AngelesTimes on Tuesday, just
hours before an agreement was reached.
On Tuesday, with the backing of the American Civil Liberties
Union in Northern California, Titman sought a temporary restraining
order that would bar Clovis Unified's dress code from being enforced
at graduation scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday (June 4).
But before the judge could rule, the district and Titman reached
an agreement. He may wear the feather in his hair during the ceremony;
when it is time to move the cap's tassel to the other side, Titman
may attach the feather to his cap.
"It has been our goal from the beginning to find a mutually
agreeable solution that honors and respects the culture of our Native
American students while affirming the long-standing traditions and
standards honoring every one of our graduating seniors," district
Supt. Janet Young said in a statement. "We look forward to doing
both at Thursday's graduation ceremony."
The eagle is considered sacred because it is seen as being able
to fly up to the creators, Titman explained. His father had given
him the feather because it honored an important transition in his
The 18-year-old struggled in his first years in high school
and was on a path to fall short of the credits needed to graduate,
he said. He met with his guidance counselor regularly and took a
class to make up credits. Titman enrolled in a Regional Occupational
Program class for carpentry and has an apprenticeship lined up for
after he graduates, he said.
"I climbed that ladder so I could graduate," he said. "I want
to wear this because I accomplished a great thing."