Native American wins right to wear feather at graduation

Christian Titman wearing his graduation cap and gown, along with a ceremonial eagle feather presented to him by his father in Fresno, California in this June 2, 2015 handout photo released to Reuters on June 3, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Christian Titman wearing his graduation cap and gown, along with a ceremonial eagle feather presented to him by his father in Fresno, California in this June 2, 2015 handout photo released to Reuters on June 3, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A native American student has won the right to wear an eagle feather at his US school graduation, after a last-minute deal was reached to curtail court action, officials said Wednesday.

Christian Titman had repeatedly asked his school in California to let him display the feather, presented by his father as a mark of his academic achievements, at his graduation Thursday.

On Tuesday the 18-year-old, a member of the Pit River Tribe, launched an emergency court motion backed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of northern California.

And his lawyers reached a deal late Tuesday with the Clovis Unified School District, which oversees Clovis High School, 320 km southeast of San Francisco.

The school district had been offering to let Titman receive the feather along with his diploma when he went up on stage at the ceremony, then attach it to his graduation cap. Titman wanted to wear the feather in his cap from the outset, for the whole event.

The compromise is this: he can wear it in his hair until he gets his diploma, and then fix it to his cap.

"Christian and his family are thrilled that he will be able to wear an eagle feather during graduation tomorrow," said Novella Coleman, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.

The school district's Janet Young said: "It has been our goal from the beginning to find a mutually agreeable solution that honours and respects the culture of our Native American students while affirming our long-standing traditions and standards.

"We look forward to doing both at Thursday's graduation ceremony," she said.