Non-Issue

 As expected, our appeal was denied. The school board threw in a surprise though, it was denied on a technicality. Since we don’t live there oficially yet and Adriel is not a student yet, they didn’t have to do anything other than uphold Mr. Rhodes ruling. An interesting twist, I suppose.  All it means is once we have a utility bill in hand showing we reside in Needville, the whole process will start over.  Thats ok, practice makes perfect as they say.

 We got there just before the meeting started and the room was packed. Its funny, in a room full of people so eager to protect their proud traditions, you’d think at least one of the gentlemen in the audience would have the courtesy to give up their seat to my mother who is recovering from cancer. I guess chivalry really is dead, huh?

 A few citizens had signed up to address the board. The first one called didn’t want to go first so she passed on her turn. The ones that did speak all said the same thing. “…..I hope the board uphold’s the superintendent’s decision…..” I don’t think I have ever seen more imature behavior from an elderly person ever. There was one old woman in the audience rolling her eyes and making faces the whole time. Its pretty sad when my five year old son was able to behave himself better than someone that old.

 When the time came for us to speak, I started off and then Kenney spoke. I don’t really remember what we said, I only remember being angry and my voice shaking. We both recorded it and there were news cameras rolling so I suppose I’ll listen to it later. Right now I am tired and want to go to bed.

 After we spoke a new friend addressed the board. He is Cody Swimmer of the American Indian Movement, South Texas branch. He spoke eloquently and there were some teary eyes in the room. Some were in the audience and mine were wet too. I hate getting emotional but it is difficult not to during all of this. I like Cody a lot. I have only just met him and already I feel like he is family.

 While we have not yet settled on who will be representing us legally, a lawyer spoke for our cause as well. We only met about 45 minutes before the meeting but he signed up to address the board and was given time to speak. Mr. Hale of Hale & Associates spoke of the outdated hair length rule and religious aspects of hair. I’m sure the opposers did not really care what any of us had to say. Their minds have been made up and I don’t think any amount of logic will change that.

 Oh! I almost forgot, the Department of Justice sent the school board a letter. I don’t know what it said but I did get a phone call before the meeting letting me know it had been sent.

I met some new friends that live in Needville. A couple who has chosen to homeschool because due to their own disagreement with the school board came to the meeting to show some support. We have been chatting online for a while now but only just got to meet tonight. Our children will be great friends I think. The boys have long hair and so does the dad. Its nice to have friends in the community.

Anyway, here is a link to one of teh stories taht went on tonight:

http://khcw.trb.com/news/khcw-long-hair,0,5788583.htmlstory

I have not looked up the rest but I got business cards from channel 2, channel 39, the Houston Chronicle, teh Fort Bend Herald and the Houston Press. I’m sure if you check their repective websites you can get the stories.

For those wondering what the next step is; as soon as our utilities are hooked up at the new house we will move in. Adriel will be enrolled once we have proof of residence (ie. a utility bill). We will take hime to school and the whole process will start over again. Level 1, Level 2 and then Level 3 appeals, that is, unless they decide to just let him go to school on their own. Perhaps they” arrange for a bigger room next time. 😉

Advertisements

6 Responses to “Non-Issue”

  1. Kevin Johnson Says:

    I think you were searching for published sources speaking of the religious foundations of this practice. Not a problem.

    Here is a secondary source that speaks specifically about the Apache tribe ritual of cutting the hair to shoulder length when mourning:

    http://curtis.library.northwestern.edu/curtis/viewPage.cgi?showp=1&size=2&id=nai.01.book.00000225&volume=1

    “The men’s hair always hangs loose; it is never braided. At time of mourning the hair is cut horizontally just above the shoulder line. Apache matrons, like the men, do not braid the hair, but let it hang loosely over the shoulders. The maidens tie their hair in a low long knot at the back of the head, to which is fastened a decorated deerskin ornament, denoting maidenhood. So arranged it is called pitsYvtsti, and the wrapping, tsYgg.”
    —————-

    Following this chain of thought, here is a remark from the Mesa Community College Anthropology Department website:

    http://www.mc.maricopa.edu/dept/d10/asb/anthro2003/religion/index.html

    What is ritual?

    Rituals are designed both to express belief and to bring about specific ends. Ritual behavior is motivated by a desire to gain some form of satisfaction and is expected to be effective. Rituals often deal with such human concerns as health, fertility, and general welfare, however, the purposes may vary with the participants. >>Ritual is widely regarded as the most fundamental unit of religious expression.<>Critical rituals frequently occur at times of life crises such as birth, puberty, marriage or death. << In these rituals, there is often a change of status that involves a shifting of roles. For example, at puberty, children become adults and responsible members of a community or religious group, or they may become warriors or workers; they may now be eligible to marry.

    ————

    Simple logic tells one that in order for hair to be trimmed level with the shoulder it must already extend past the shoulder, ergo it is implicit within the guidelines of this historically recorded Apache ritual, one of the most fundamental units of religious expression, that the hair be allowed to grow freely. Q.E.D.

    One could make the argument that the braided hair sometimes seen in the news coverage departs from the historic male Apache norm. Surely that childish debate is also worthy of barring Adriel from school rather than simply letting his family practice freedom of religion.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Johnson

  2. Dani Says:

    Hello!
    I found the story of your case on CNN.com – our website is to protect native culture (Is actually called “Protect Native Culture”) and we have begun an email and phone campaign TO the school board and the superintendent.

    I have also brought attention to this case to NDN News.

    And I personally left a message with the superintendent letting him know that his small town is now not only in the national spotlight, but in the spotlight in Indian country…I’m sure you know how big Indian country is and when hundreds of thousand Red voices stand up….changes occur.

    This is only the beginning. I am awaiting my co-moderator and her husband to return home to step this campaign up. This is not only for your son, but for ALL Native people – children and adult – to back them up, support them and fight for Native rights! (hope you don’t mind). 🙂

    In the mean time: Google Ben Carnes (Choctaw). He is a very dear friend and my sisters husband. He won the 1987 human rights award in Oklahoma and helped change the rules in Oklahoma so that Native inmates could keep their braids. He took on the Oklahoma prison system -Mr. Rhodes is nothing!

    In solidarity,
    Dani in Oregon
    co-moderator of Protect Native Culture
    http://www.myspace.com/istealfromndns

  3. Dani Says:

    Also:
    contact NARF – http://www.narf.org/
    Native American Rights Fund

  4. Yache_Apache Says:

    Hi – you have my support at not wanting to cut your child’s hair. It’s sacred and our culture. I’m not a card carrying NDN and never will be; I refuse to accept the government telling me I’m Native by a issuing me a card. I’m Native through and through WITHOUT the white man’s card “allowing” me to be one.

    Good luck with your fight! Don’t give up.

  5. thestitchwitch Says:

    Thank you everyone for the links and support. We’re not finished yet and have no plans of backing down.

  6. Mike McFarlane Says:

    I am a citizen of this country and Jamaican by birth. I went to a catholic high school in Jamaica in the seventies. There was one Rastafarian student on campus, much to the discomfort of the catholic priests. Many years after i graduated, I went back to visit and was introduced to Bob Marley’s son, then a student in the 10th grade. The priest who introduced us beamed proudly on that occasion. The world had turned and Bob Marley, who was once reviled for wearing dreadlocks, would have been proud.
    That was twenty years ago in a small third world country. You would have thought that the citizens of Needville would have played catch-up by now. I live in this country as a guest of it’s original inhabitants, as do most, if not all, of Needsville’s school board. They should show more respect for the culture and practices of the original Americans.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: