Eagle feather ceremonies take different form, hold same meaning

The eagle feather ceremony is a tradition that honors graduating Native high school seniors for their accomplishment and offers a blessing as they move on to the next phase of life.

This would have been the fourth year that graduating Natives from Lincoln Public Schools wore eagle feathers on their caps during May graduation ceremonies. However, graduation ceremonies - in whatever form they take - have been delayed until late July this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Native elders and LPS Native advocates have still found a way for the eagle feather ceremonies to occur at their traditional time of year. They’re visiting nearly 50 graduating Native students and safely performing the ceremonies outside their homes.

The scaled down version of this year’s ceremonies didn’t make it less special for Savannah Kills Small, a Lincoln High School graduate and member of the Oglala Lakota tribe.

“It feels good,” she said last week after her ceremony. “I feel like the eagle feather was a symbol of how hard I worked and how much education means to Native Americans.”

The video below offers a glimpse into the significance and meaning of the eagle feather ceremony for Savannah and Lincoln Northeast High School graduate Anthony Gomez. 

Published: May 27, 2020, Updated: May 27, 2020