Tribal members participate in Salem-Keizer Eagle Feather ceremony

06.14.2017 Dean Rhodes Culture, People, Education, Events

SALEM – Two Grand Ronde Tribal members were among 56 Native American seniors who participated in the 2017 Eagle Feather ceremony held by Salem-Keizer Public Schools at North Salem High School.

Jordan Harvey and Nicole Upton received feathers, Pendleton stoles and award certificates during the 21st annual ceremony held on Wednesday, May 24.

Two other Grand Ronde Tribal members -- Justin Howerton and Cassandra Hughes – who are graduating this year did not attend the event.

Spirit Mountain Community Fund Director Mychal Cherry and Employment and Employee Relations Manager Sarah Harvey sit on the Salem-Keizer Indian Education Parent Advisory Committee and Education Department Manager Leslie Riggs is the Grand Ronde liaison with the district.

Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George delivered the invocation at the event and the Grand Ronde Color Guard posted the colors. Cherry, who is president of the Parents Advisory Committee, gave the welcome speech and Tribal member Harris Reibach performed a blessing song on Native American flute.

“Our graduates have reached a milestone in their lives where they will make a leap from adolescence to adulthood,” Cherry said. “The important goals and paths they choose in the next few years will impact the rest of their lives.

“Because we are honoring the students, we need to also honor and thank the people who were instrumental in helping the students reach this point. Parents, we thank you for your support for your children in all their academic endeavors. Elders, we thank you all for being here and supporting our program. You are needed to provide guidance from all the wisdom you have gained in your lives.”

Shelby Maerz, a Grand Ronde Tribal member and Indian Education Program assistant with Salem-Keizer Public Schools, presented the Native American seniors.

Keynote addresses were given by McNary High School senior Miguel Araiza (Squaxin Island) and Chemeketa Community College professor Johnny Neal Jr. (Choctaw).

The Ahnii Nijii Signers were the host drum for the night and the Lakota Oyate Ki volunteers created custom-made Pendleton wool graduation stoles for the graduates.

Harvey graduated from McNary High School, Howerton from Roberts High, and Hughes and Upton from Sprague High.

Harvey plans to attend Chemeketa and Oregon State and study kinesiology while Hughes plans on attending Corban University to study elementary education and Upton plans on attending Chemeketa and Linfield College and study elementary education as well. Howerton did not list his post-high school plans.

“This event is only one of many great services that Indian Education provides,” Sarah Harvey said. “There is also summer school, tutors and education support nights and cultural activities.”