A 13-year-old Menominee student in Wisconsin cried as her school principal removed her medicine pouch, family says.

A 13-year-old Native American student was pulled from the lunch line at her school in Wisconsin and sent to the guidance counselor over a traditional Menominee medicine pouch, family says.

On October 21, Rosella “Rose” Kaquatosh was wearing the pouch outside of her clothing when a kitchen employee at Gresham School in Gresham, Wisconsin, allegedly demanded Kaquatosh take it off.

“She saw her pouch [and] she started hollering at her, saying ‘take it off!’” Karen Gardner, Kaquatosh’s grandmother, told ICTMN. “[Kaquatosh] felt bullied. She told her it was ceremonial pouch. [She] explained that she needed it to pray. She prays about four times a day. She respects the sacredness of the pouch.”

Kaquatosh told school officials the tobacco within the pouch was sacred, and not for chewing or smoking. Kaquatosh has since been ordered to tuck the pouch in her shirt, Gardner said. On Monday, family and Native Americans in the Gresham community attended a school board meeting to speak in support of Kaquatosh.

Rosella "Rose" Kaquatosh wears her sacred Menominee medicine pouch. Photo courtesy Karen Gardner. 

Gardner said several of the speakers in the audience told the school board that Kaquatosh has the right to wear a Menominee medicine pouch as much as a Christian student is permitted to don a cross.

Gardner said she asked the school board for an apology. “They didn't say they would send any,” she said.

Responses to "Principal Removes Sacred Medicine Pouch From Student, Family Says"

  1. Disgusting behaviour. The school should be ashamed.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If anyone did this to my Daughter I would sue. Disgusting, ignorant and racist. There's such a thing as freedom of religion.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I wish someone would explain who the woman in the lunchroom was and what prompted her to yell at the young lady to remove the pouch. What business of it was hers? I would have had a problem with that, too. Yelling at her in the lunchroom? What was the purpose?

  4. Unknown says:

    That's a direct violation of the freedom of religion act. It's illegal and the school needs to be held accountable for their actions. She has every right to wear her medicine bag just like Christians have the right to wear their cross. This is awful, my heart goes out to this beautiful young woman.

  5. Unknown says:

    It's terribly sad how intolerant we've become to other people's beliefs and customs. I gave up on the Christian religion long ago when the tea party started making a mockery of it. The lunch lady needs to be fired. We owe the Native Americans more than we could ever repay them. And, I'm sorry this beautiful young lady had to be subjected to fear and ignorance. Until everyone, (white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Middle Eastern), stands up and says "ENOUGH" stories like this will continue to be told. It breaks my heart.

  6. Unknown says:

    That is unconstitutional! An apology was ALL that was asked for? You are lucky people. She did not try to sue for damages, she wants an apology! And she should get one! People want to change What is not understood. These people just want to live their heritage. Let them! Respect, Tolerance, Love, Compaasion, Kindness is what every religion preaches. They are no different from any of us. My name is Dorothy Digregorio Stevens

  7. Anonymous says:

    I was harassed back in the 70's for the very same reason. I got smart and wore it under my clothing. I would have thought, in this day and age, that a person would be safe from this, but no. here it is, maybe even worse!!!

  8. Unknown says:

    Please tell me who to contact in support of this traditional young lady. I will proudly stand up for her.

  9. eric says:

    imagine the outrage if it was a christian student who was told she couldn't wear a cross

  10. As I wear a cross she should be free to wear her pouch! We do not live in backwards times here we live in a time of what should be acceptance!

  11. Unknown says:

    This is so wrong on so many points. This country was founded on the principle of separation of church and state. Many of the people writing the constitution had seen the results of a theocracy in England and again in Bay Colony. My own 13th great-grandfather, Roger Williams, founded the future state of Rhode Island on the same principles. This young lady has every right to wear her amulet anywhere she pleases just as any other faith has the right to wear theirs.

  12. Unknown says:

    This racist behavior should never be tolerated. I pray the community not only ends the hostility shown towards others but they should publicly apologize for being so idiotic.

  13. Unknown says:

    That was a direct violation of her right to freedom of religion. I wonder if the cafeteria worker was wearing a crucifix necklace, (or any other type of religious jewelry). That young lady's family has every right to sue the school board, imho.

  14. Seems there is no freedom of religion anymore, or much of any other freedom, really. You can't say or do anything without suffering some kind of consequences. No matter what, someone is going to be offended in some way and make a big stink over it. Every person who goes out of their way to insult and bully someone else, as in this case, should be ashamed of themselves, especially when it is an innocent child they are offending that is causing no harm. I am definitely contacting this school and letting them know this does not go unnoticed and is totally unacceptable. An apology is the least they can do! This young lady should not have to remove or hide something that expresses her beliefs and is perfectly innocent! Shame on Gresham!

  15. Unknown says:

    I am Native American (Cherokee) and a born again Child of God aka: Christian, and a minister, and the public school systems, and private school systems have no right to infringe upon anyone religious beliefs or items or articles used to represent their faith.

  16. Unknown says:

    Well! If a Sikh can wear a kirpan at school, and a Christian can wear a cross at school, then why not a Menominee, or Cree or even Algonkian wearing a traditional medicine pouch? The actions in this case are disgusting.

  17. Unknown says:

    You know if all of us here commenting on this post started to sue the schools who did this, so many school would be shut down and we could start a new process of learning. Dont just shove kids in a building that looks like a prison to learn bull crap. We should have schools be outside with guidance and teaching how to improve the world and community. Not learning what some rapist did 500 years ago to start this bullshit country that they took away from the native Americans.

  18. Unknown says:

    It's not right but its the same separation of church and state that Christians have to put up with.

  19. Email sent:

    I am absolutely horrified that you made the young woman remove her medicine pouch. And who the heck was the lunch lady to comment, complain, or demand that she take it off?

    You both stepped way over the line. No one would have demanded that a Christian teen remove a cross, or a Sikh remove his turban. But no, Native children are still subjected to ignorant bigotry.

    Forbidding the young woman to practice the tenants of her religion is against the law.

    You should all be fired.

  20. Anonymous says:

    @Dennis Gryner Christian students aren't being yelled in cafeterias for wearing a cross around their necks...

  21. No, Dennis Gryner, it is not the same. Christian children are not told to remove a cross. Christians in this country are NOT suffering; separation of church and state is essential to protect religious rights of all.


    And yes, I am a Christian.

  22. Unknown says:

    to deny an individual the right to practice their beliefs, is by far one of the greatest crimes that this country could ever do but for an individual to chastise another for their beliefs and by far the greatest crime. The cafeteria worker should be relieved of her job or at the very least should be educated of others beliefs and the principal should have had enough sense to stand up to the cafeteria worker and inform her of the young ladies religious rights. I think both the cafeteria worker and the principal need to be educated as to the rights of others. As an Elder of my family, that principle would be hearing from me if such an incident occurred with anyone in my family.Osaiy

  23. Anonymous says:

    This is rather weird to me... Why is there a problem? These people, should be more concerned with males, who want to shoot their classmates... Shoot their Teachers et al... Something is off about this type of happening...

  24. Anonymous says:

    We each come to Spirit(s) INDIVIDUALLY, not collectively, so NO ONE has the right to JUDGE anyone else's beliefs. This is a product of FEAR based people who think ONLY their beliefs are Justifiable. Shame on this woman, shame on the school for not making it clear in the first place, and shame on anyone who thinks this cafeteria woman was correct in what she did. This is EXACTLY the Founding Forefathers (most of whom were DEISTS - in that they studied All forms of Spirituality/Religions) reasons for stating Separation Between Religion and Government!!! Too many want to impose Their Beliefs over and above someone else's. I have to ask: Who died and appointed anyone in charge - let alone judge and jury?

  25. Ruby Moon says:

    I agree she should be as free to wear her pouch as we are to wear a Pentacle, cross, star of david or what-not!

  26. Teacher's should learn the custom and tradition of Native American people and know more about our people.

  27. Josette Redwolf says:

    this is a ceremonial pouch for our people just as much as the cross is for the christian,the Star of David for the Judaism, the Wheel of Dharma for Buddhists,The Angel Moroni for the Church of the Latter Day Saints, The Om for Hinduism, or even the Pentacle for the peaceful Wiccans.
    Wisconsin laws authorizes school boards to adopt rules pertaining to the dress of pupils however the very first amendment of those rules is that at no time can a school or its representative do anything that contradicts protecting the rights of students religious expression. Dress codes must accommodate students whose legitimate religious beliefs require or encourage certain types of dress or accessories.

    By requiring her to remove the medicine pouch which is a religious pouch THE SCHOOL has broken the LAWS set forth by the Wisconsin state. You realize this leaves the school open to substantial legal ramifications not only legally but monetarily .

    I urge the school and the principal to publicly apologize not only to Miss Kaquatosh but also to the Menominee Nation. This is completely disrespectful and intolerable.

  28. Unknown says:

    I was told to remove my pentagram from work I said no its a part of me

  29. Anonymous says:

    Peace and love to eachother I give Native Americans the most rrespect they are still getting treated like they have no place here well wake up and smell the roses they are better than we are they have to put up wit crap like this I just dont understand if that is her religion that who are they to say anything

  30. Anonymous says:

    Cheat them, Break your own Deal, Swindle them out of their Homeland and now do this to this to their child ! Thick indeed is your conscience!

  31. Unknown says:

    I was told by a coworker to remove my pentacle. I told him I would under no circumstance remove it. He said he was offended by it, and I told him I was offended by his cross and that he should remove it. Long story short, I told him to prepare for the grievance against him. He backed down real quick.

    The family of the young lady should sue the pants off the school district. Then demand an apology in public.

  32. Unknown says:

    I just emailed the principal. Thanks for the email address.
    I am from Wisconsin. This is so embarrassing and sad on may levels. Thank you for posting this so we can know that this happened and support you.

    Dr. Suzy Ross

  33. Ravy says:

    I sent a letter to the school in support of the young woman.I'm writing from Canada. I hope more do the same. Blessings.

  34. Barbie says:

    is this in Canada ? either way the Principal needs to Educate himself ! immediately !

  35. When my boys were growing up, the school system would have a Christmas Ptogram in which it was required the participate. As we are not Christian, we asked that the boys not be required. They were placed in chairs outside the principal's office with the recalcitrant children. When the boys told me that they and a Seven Day advocate were placed there, I called and reminded them of the Freedom of religion, the constitution, and the closeness of the nearest ACLU office. They were in the library the next day.

  36. Unknown says:

    Some people will not be happy until they've removed every principle that this great land was founded on. You paid honor to your Spirit Guide and bless you for that. Shame on the principal and her racist views.

  37. dave hill says:

    The 'lunch lady' (and I use lady loosely) epitomizes the jokes about lunch ladies. I think her hair net is too tight or that isn't the oregano she's been smoking. What difference does a small pouch make to her? It's not like the student was carrying a large protest sign or that a pouch was interfering with the education of her or other students (although I've seen spirit bring about some powerful things) The lunch lady needs to apologize publically then be relieved of her position since she obviously has no business working with children or any service oriented occupation..

  38. I can't believe it! Something must b done!

  39. Anonymous says:

    The Tea Party does NOT make a mockery out of the Christian religion. What an asinine comment! Usually Tea Party people ARE Christians. It's the Democrats who make a mockery out of the Christian religion AND took God out of their party several times. Look it up if you don't believe me. Stupid liberals uninformed as usual. As far as this young lady goes, it should never have happened and her parents should sue. She should also get a formal apology from the school, the school board, and the lunch lady.

  40. Unknown says:

    I don't think a lawsuit would make the appropriate point. I think he needs to be beaten from dawn to dusk by people much larger than himself so he will know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of bullying.

  41. Unknown says:

    Clearly the staff and students of this school board need to educate themselves. Welcome to 2015 people.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I am an atheist and the pouch should be banned from campus...and under the 14th amendment, so should the cross, the Star of David, the lit chalice (Unitarian Universalist), Pentagram and so Then the pouch must be allowed too.

  43. Unknown says:

    I used to wear a medicine bag in junior high, and I would get questions about it, but I was never told to take it off. I went to school in the 90's in public school in the Midwest. I wasn't disruptive and was a good student, for what it's worth. I think these are different times than when I went to school. I'm not sure why she was pulled out of line and told to take it off. Was it offensive in any way, or were they afraid there was contraband in it (aside from a small amount of sacred tobacco) ? In any event, I can understand why she was upset...I would be too!

  44. Anonymous says:

    What horrible behavior coming from the school and the board. It's times like this that make me ashamed to be white. The little girl was bullied and her heart has been damaged. Blessed Be and prayers that the wounds inflicted heal.

  45. Unknown says:

    Unbelievable how many immature adults work in schools... it is disgusting!!

  46. Anonymous says:

    Freedom of religion - no problem - as long as it is 'my' religion...

    I wear a cross - no problem

    If I wear a star of david - no problem

    If I wear a pentacle - problem

    If I wear a medicine pouch - problem

  47. Trip says:

    None of this should surprise us...aren't most wars in the name of religion, or feeling superior to those different than us or that have separate beliefs? One would think though, that humanity would go past this type of thinking and stupid behavior, that we would evolve spiritually and be more tolerant to cultural difference. But in this particular case, they violated her civil rights... but of graver concern is they publicly humiliated and shamed her, like an act of terrorism. And one terrifying event to a young person can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her parents should file lawsuit(s) for emotional damages and a civil rights violation. Suing them will give her meaning and closure. Sad but true, this is exactly how social reform gets done. Many blessings to her and her family!

  48. I would have pulled her out of the school due to the school's ignorance. I would be extremely upset if this happened to me!

  49. Anonymous says:

    That's some bs cause they tried to tell me to cut my hair when I went to school but I didn't. So I won that battle and I still got my hair.

  50. Anonymous says:

    I think the school was upset cuz it concerned them about what was in the bag and they didn't understand it. I really don't think they meant to offend her or to prevent her from practicing her religion. you're blowing this out of proportion. It wasn't a religious issue it's that she's walking aroundwith something concealed in a small pouch so they were concerned which upon opening contained tobacco which is a substance most schools do not allow on their premises. That being said once it was explained to them they really have no excuse not to apologize and allow her to wear it.

  51. Unknown says:

    I thought the pouch was to be worn under the clothes?

  52. Unknown says:

  53. Anonymous says:

    I mean Yeah they allowed her to wear it under her clothes but she should be allowed to wear it loud and proud. They not what it's for now so she shouldn't be required to hide it.

  54. it's the 21st c. and canada, for example, has heard the truth and reconcilliation commission, aboriginal peoples world wide are being heard thanks to internet, and yet this lovely young woman was treated so boorishly and disrespectfully. to the commentators: she DID explain that it was a medicine pouch, according to the news article. the yelling staff member should have asked for pardon for their ignorance. young people shouldn't be pushed around like that.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I've always wore my medicine pouch. It doesn't need to be hidden under clothes do people hide crosses under clothes. No they don't. I feel bad that my relative had to go threw this. My prayers are out for you.

  56. Anonymous says:

    I have seen that news on TV today

  57. Unknown says:

    To tell this young lady..."its OK to wear the pouch as long as its under your clothing" her age..possibly tells her in not so many words that its shameful to wear it dare they....but then again...look at our history with white people....we are forgotten.....but I believe we have given the most for this country than any other race.

  58. Unknown says:

    To tell this young lady..."its OK to wear the pouch as long as its under your clothing" her age..possibly tells her in not so many words that its shameful to wear it dare they....but then again...look at our history with white people....we are forgotten.....but I believe we have given the most for this country than any other race.

  59. Hekete says:

    [quote]B Bennett says:
    I was told by a coworker to remove my pentacle. I told him I would under no circumstance remove it. He said he was offended by it, and I told him I was offended by his cross and that he should remove it. Long story short, I told him to prepare for the grievance against him. He backed down real quick.

    The family of the young lady should sue the pants off the school district. Then demand an apology in public.[/quote]

    Im Wicca myself and if someone told me that. They wouldn't hear the end of it! Proud of how you handled it! I hate people that do that sort of things. Ignorance is no excuse for that.

    OP. The principle and that staff member should have lost there jobs over that. Its no excuse!

  60. Commenter says:

    Didn't Joseph McCarthy come from Wisconsin? I guess somethings never change?

  61. Unknown says:

    I feel that the only two paths here are either a public apology or a law suit. My heart goes out to the young lady. I was once asked to remove my "hat," at The Alamo. I am Jewish. The person had no idea what I was talking about. A supervisor was called and offered me an apology and counseled the gentleman right there and then.

    The overriding currents in this incident are ignorance and arrogance. I believe the person who originally started this mess was ignorant. Whether she is a bigot or not..I wasn't there. However, the first amendment of our constitution covers this one completely with no wiggle room. They had no more of a right to ask this young lady to remove her bag, than to ask me to remove my "hat," or to ask someone to remove a cross. So, as I see it, what was done was horrid, but perhaps salvageable had the school authorities, once informed, immediately corrected their employees behavior. The young lady should have then been taken aside and an apology should have been proffered. Instead the opposite happened.

    In the end, the is no cure for a person or people who are both ignorant and close-minded. If a public apology is not offered I do hope the young ladies parents will weigh the pro's and con's of taking this matter to court. Their child will certainly have additional attention directed toward her. But I would ask her parents something that my father asked me more than once when similar circumstances arose: If not me, who? If not now, when?

    My heart goes out to you.

  62. Kera says:

    This is why it is so hard for us to hold onto our traditional values and ways of life. To this day we face so much prejudice and when we try to bring understanding to the situation we are depicted as racist and intolerant. We're forced to endure injustice or be pointed out as the aggressors.

  63. Anonymous says:

    This pisses me. She has rights. It's bull. She should be awarded for honoring her religion and her culture. This upsets me to the core. When u was in school we wanted to learn more about Native American History but was denied. This enraged us. We are missing out of so much. Now they are punishing this child. If it was Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and or an African American religion it would be accepted. It's a shame. It's racist.

  64. Unknown says:

    I believe the girl's family needs to sue and should call on the ACLU because it is clearly a civil liberties issue.

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