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Eagle Feather Ceremony Held at Sevenwinds for Native High School Graduates

Updated: Jun 30

By Terrell Boettcher

Sawyer County Record

Reprinted Courtesy of SCR

Sixty-one Class of 2024 Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe graduates from high schools including Hayward, Lac Courte Oreilles, Winter, Chippewa Falls, and Eau Claire Memorial were honored with eagle feathers during a ceremony Wednesday, May 22, at the Sevenwinds Casino Conference Center.


The event was sponsored by the LCO Tribal Governing Board, Lac Courte Oreilles and Hayward Community School boards and Sevenwinds Casino, Lodge and Conference Center.


Sawyer County Judge Monica Isham was the program emcee.


The keynote speaker, Hannah Orie, a 2017 graduate of Hayward High School, said “This is a huge accomplishment” for the graduates. “There are so many people from our entire community here to support you.”


She thanked local tribal leaders and school administrations, both LCO and Hayward High School, for supporting Native students. This eagle feather ceremony is a contrast to other communities  and stateswho do not allow acts of pride or cultural practice such as regalia or a drum song  by their Native graduates, she said. “Racism still exists.”


Back in 1978, “It was illegal for us to have an Indian name or practice any kind of our Sjhinob-ness,” Orie said. “This feather is achievement, a display of your resilience and sovereignty as a Shinob. On your graduation day, dress to be unapologetically your best self. This eagle feather is your inherent right.”


Armed Forces veterans Steve Robertson and Valerie Barber presented eagle feathers to the graduates. LCO graduates also received a tobacco pouch.


THe LCO School Migiziwag drum group sang a welcome song and an honor song for the graduates. Rosie Gonzalez gave the invocation.


Hayward High School Principal Doug Stark paid tribute to the late Douglas Baker, who was a home-school coordinator for Native students and families in the Hayward Community Schools for 17 years. “He was a wonderful man, co-worker and a friend of mine,” Stark said. “Doug loved this celebration. He was always proud of our youth and he would like to see you accomplishments and laughter being shared.”


Besides the schools mentioned above, graduates receiving eagle feathers also included one each from Richland Center, Bradley Technical High School (Milwaukee) and Minnesota Connections Academy (St. Paul).


The LCO Ojibwe Schools drum group sang a welcome song and an honor song. the AmVets Post 1998 honor guard carried in the flags.


The casino served a meal to all in attendance following the ceremony.


The May 22 honoring event was sponsored by the LCO Tribal Governing Board, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Schools and School Board, Hayward Community Schools and School Board, and the Sevenwinds Casino, Lodge and Conference Center.

LCO Ojibwe School Class of 2024 valedictorian Amari Bildeau receives an eagle feather and tobacco pouch presented by veterans Valerie Barber and Steve Robertson during the honoring ceremony for all Lac Courte Oreilles tribal member Class of 2024 high school graduates at the Sevenwinds Casino Conference Center. Photo by Terrell Boettcher


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