ADA, Okla. (KFOR) – They are more than just tiny, colorful beads to Sonya Frazier.

Each one, placed in a careful pattern, represents family, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, even Native American ancestors who helped high school graduates reach that milestone in life.

“It’s a coming-of-age ceremony,” she argues. “Also, a kind of recognizing ceremony and a healing ceremony. When we honor each other we’re healing each other.”

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Sonya Frazier, image KFOR

She is part of a small, but growing, organization of parents and Oklahoma tribal members hoping to weave a little of their own heritage into a ceremony that represents a rite of passage.

“That’s our goal, is to bring pride and tradition back to our native youth,” she says.

Frazier’s own daughter graduated high school in 2022.

Six other women spent a week leading up to the event laboring over 13 mortar boards for Byng School District seniors.

Sonya says, “It takes about a week to bead one of these.”

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Native heritage added. Image KFOR

Sage burns in a smudge pot as she works, encouraging good thoughts, a kind of prayer as she sews hundreds of beads into each cap, and attaching an eagle feather to send them on their way.

“I believe they all turned out beautifully,” she says with a smile.

Graduation season sees a lot of heads wearing caps never to be worn again, many thrown into the air and discarded after the ceremony.

Sonya and friends are confident their efforts make their caps something to hold onto.

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Graduate pride. Image KFOR

Each bead means something special.

“We’re trying to encourage our young people to be connected to their heritage.”

The group Frazier is part of calls itself Regalia Making Relatives.

For more information on the group, go to www.facebook.com/regaliamakingrelatives.