Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, vetoed a state Senate bill that would have allowed Native American students at public high schools and universities to wear tribal regalia at their graduation ceremonies, KFOR, a local news source, reported.
Stitt said in a message to state lawmakers on Monday that the decision should be up to individual school districts.
“Should this bill become law, the proverbial Pandora’s box will be opened for other groups to go over the heads of local superintendents and demand special favor to wear whatever they please at a formal ceremony,” he said.
The veto was met with criticism from Native American leaders.
Angelique Albert, CEO of Native Forward Scholars Fund, a national scholarship fund for Native American scholars, encouraged the Oklahoma senate to override the veto.
“Decades ago, the U.S. shipped off our children to Indian boarding schools to assimilate us – and in many cases, do much worse than that,” Albert said in a statement. “It’s shocking that in 2023, some public officials are still determined to deny us our rights, cultural heritage and dignity.”