Native American students at Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) have been fighting a battle with the district for some time now.

They want to be allowed to wear their regalia proudly for graduation, but not all TUSD schools allow it. Regalia is clothing and ornaments worn at formal occasions. It is a sacred part of Native American culture. Pueblo High School senior, Lourdes Pereira, wants to be allowed to wear her regalia when she graduates in May.

“It’s who we are. It’s part of our heritage,” said Pereira. “We wear our regalia for ceremony events. You kind of earn it along the way. You get your shell necklace, you get your bracelet, and certain tribes have different meanings for their regalia and it’s an honor to have it.”

TUSD says right now some schools allow it and some do not. Tuesday, the TUSD board will discuss a district-wide policy that will allow every student across TUSD to wear their regalia at graduation.

“TUSD is always promoting diversity and telling their students to reach for the stars and their always trying to be there for their students, but then something like this happens and it makes you question why they are overlooking their Native American students,” Pereira said.

Madeline Jeans is also a part of the Tucson Native Youth Council. She graduated last year and was able to get special permission to wear her regalia, but she said other Native students had to hide it.

“They have significance to them,” said Jeans. “They’re not just decorations, they’re sacred adornments and religious items.” The TUSD board is set to vote on the policy Tuesday. The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. at Duffy Elementary School. “I hope they pass it,” said Jeans. “I really want them to vote yes. This has been something I’ve been trying to work on since I was a senior and something I’ve been talking about since I was a sophomore.”

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