Native American seniors were honored at Lawton High School earlier this week with a sacred feather ceremony.This ceremony was a significant and symbolic tradition for the students and their families.
This year Lonnie Emhoolah, a member of the Kiowa Tribe, facilitated the ceremony. He began with a prayer blessing everyone in attendance and all of the seniors. He then proceeded to light the cedar for the ceremony. Once it was lit, he waved the smoke towards seniors who were standing there with their arms stretched to receive the blessing. Lawton Public Schools Indian Education Liaison Raylisha Stanley explains why this is such an important event for the Native American students.
“We invited elder Lonnie Emhoolah this year and last year. He comes in, blesses the students, prays for them, and gives them a cedar blessing as well,” Stanley said. “The opportunity to participate in the ceremony and being able to wear the eagle feather at graduation is an honor. It’s something that we hold sacred and represents so much for our people.”
The eagle feather represents pride within the Native American community. Eagle feathers cannot be bought or sold and have to be given to a person by someone who has the right to possess them. Seniors like Leah Pewewardy are honored to be able to wear their eagle feathers to graduation and represent their culture.
“To me, the eagle feather represents pride, strength, honor and dignity,” Pewewardy said. “I will cherish the feather and wear it with pride to honor my past and future.”
For Stanley, being a part of this tradition is personal and near to her. She hopes the students understand just how important and special it is for them to receive the eagle feather.
“I know to my people and the Comanche people here the eagle feather is so symbolic. It’s just something so sacred that we hold so high,” Stanley said. “That’s just how important it is to us and I want all people to know that. We are very blessed.”