ELGIN, Okla (KFOR) – Anabah Werito was planning on wearing a hand beaded graduation cap and eagle feather from the Comanche tribe for graduation. However, she was told time and time again by Elgin school officials that wasn’t allowed. This comes after Governor Kevin Stitt vetoed a bill that would have protected students who want to wear regalia at graduation.

“This is her culture and that is something we can hold up high,” said Danielle Werito, Anabah’s mother.

Anabah first wore the graduation cap during a senior walkthrough of Elgin schools. The next day, she found out it wouldn’t be allowed for the actual commencement.

“There are a lot of Native Americans graduating in her class this year and I think if they did want to do that, they should have the opportunity to do that,” said Werito.

Officials with Elgin High School tell KFOR, undecorated caps are the rule for all students.

“The only students that are allowed to put anything on their cap are Native American students who present it with an eagle feather and just because of the attorney generals ruling, I feel like we did our due diligence on that,” said Nate Meraz, the Superintendent of Elgin schools.

Civil rights advocates agree with that 2019 ruling from former Attorney General Mike Hunter, but say more needs to be done.

“We know the celebration doesn’t always come in the form of a suit and tie, that graduation is the most important times in a student life and to deny an indigenous student who already faces the pressure of a school system that is forcing to assimilate is really disheartening,” said Cindy Nguyen, Policy Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.

Anabah will wear the eagle feather, but not her cap with the beading. Her mother hopes things will someday change.

Graduation cap. Image KFOR.

“Some of these kids, their family, this will be the first time someone has ever had a diploma in the whole family, so these are accomplishments that need to be celebrated,” said Werito.

The ACLU also told KFOR they have plans to work on a veto override for the bill that Governor Stitt vetoed introducing legislature that would protect students who want to wear Native American regalia.