HELENA – Aspen Many Hides recalled being in tears as she stood in line five years ago waiting to receive her high school diploma in Polson. Her mother was frantically trying to remove the beads she had sewn into her cap as a sign of accomplishment and to show her pride in her Native American heritage.
Just minutes before the procession was to begin marching, Many Hides was told the beads, particularly those spelling out her family name, violated school policy and had to be removed if she wanted to march.
“I’m very proud of where I came from and my name,” she said, explaining why she was in tears that day. “As Native people, it’s important we have an opportunity to represent ourselves with regalia. For many Native Americans, graduation from high school is huge because of so many challenges in life.”
Over the years,…