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Bismarck Public Schools graduating Native American students wore feathers attached to their individual mortarboards at Bismarck and Century graduation ceremonies in 2015. Front from left are Xander Dalton, Brianna Tortalita and Jolee Littlebird. Back from left are Chelsea Schmidt, Yasmeen Silk, Diamonique Jacobson and Alicia Swagger.

Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill on Tuesday that would allow Native American students to wear eagle feathers or plumes at their high school graduations.

House Bill 1335 prohibits school districts in North Dakota from creating policies that bar Native American students from wearing an eagle feather or plume at graduation.

Eagle feathers and plumes are symbolic in Native American cultures and are gifted to Native Americans when they reach milestones in their lives, such as graduation.

Most schools in North Dakota allow Native American students to wear eagle feathers and plumes during graduation, including Bismarck and Mandan. However, some state officials, including Scott Davis, executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, told lawmakers some schools do not.

HB1335 passed unanimously in the Senate last week, and by a vote of 90-2 in the House last month.

The bill included an emergency measure, meaning it became effective after Burgum signed it, in time for spring graduations.

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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