Navajo student proudly wears her grandma’s regalia at graduation

When 18-year-old Shelta Tsosie selected her clothing for her graduation from Hellgate High School, she chose pieces of history.

“What I’m wearing right now is extra-special since I wear it to mark important events,” said Shelta Tsosie, one of about 50 Native American students graduating this semester from Missoula County Public Schools. “It’s nice; it feels good to wear my regalia.” .


In April, Gov. Steve Bullock made it illegal for government officials to prohibit Native Americans from wearing cultural items at public events such as graduation ceremonies. The law was meant to further Montana’s commitment to the preservation of American Indian culture, a commitment written into the Montana Constitution. .

Not all Montana schools banned the practice, but school boards were in charge of whether students would be allowed to wear traditional clothing at graduation. The Associated Press reported in February that a student who planned to graduate this year from Sidney High School was told she would not be allowed to wear a beaded mortarboard to the ceremony. The school board later decided to allow it..

Ranalda Tsoise tries to have the family wear traditional clothing at every opportunity. The family wears moccasins when it’s dry outside. Every day, Shelta Tsosie’s father, Stephan Chase, wears a silver and turquoise bracelet and turquoise necklace. .

The family comes from the Navajo tribe, people Ranalda Tsosie said are better referred to as the Diné. Shelta Tsosie moved with her mother, father and siblings from New Mexico to Montana when her mom was accepted into the University of Montana’s environmental chemistry graduate program.

At the MCPS Native American senior dinner this year, Tsosie was among a handful of people wearing regalia, and she and her brother said a traditional prayer before the dinner.

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