Oklahoma Indigenous Community Furious After Fifth Grade Boy Has Hair Cut Off By Bullies

Posted by Sama in Social Issues On 11th September 2021
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The indigenous American community of Oklahoma is livid with anger after a fifth-grade child was forced by the bullies and was held down by them while they brutally cut off his long hair. The grandmother of the affected child said that they have always faced bullying in the past but this time the bullies have gone too far and they want justice to be served not only for Dominque but for the whole community.

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In Clinton, Oklahoma, a Cheyenne and Arapaho family is livid after 5th grader Dominique Lonebear was attacked by two of his classmates and the child was not only bullied but the bullies also cut off his long hair.

Angry and upset, indigenous people are using social media to raise their voices and seek justice for Dominique, asking officials to take immediate action. 

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The shameful incident happened a few days back at Washington Elementary School in Clinton, Oklahoma.

In an interview with Oklahoma News 6, Laquita Lonebear, Dominique's grandmother, said:

"I was just hoping that we were going to get through the school year without anything like this happening, it's sad."

"I can't even explain the feeling that I have."

"Driving home, I was so upset and hurt. I just felt my heart broke."

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The distressed family member explained that this isn't the first time her family faced bullying but this is the first time that it went to this extent. 

Laquita Lonebear explained what happened:

"They pushed the [bathroom] door open and pushed him against the wall, threw him down and held him down."

"[Dominique] said one held him down, the other one cut his hair and they took off running out."

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The child says that he was held down brutally and so he didn't get a good look at the perpetrators.

Indigenous Americans hold long hair very sacred as they believe it represents their closeness to Mother Earth. 

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Just as for indigenous Americans, long hair is sacred, there is also a certain way to go about when cutting their long hair. Cutting of the hair can symbolize cutting off the flow of thoughts, choosing to make a major change in life, and the start of new life. Some Indigenous people would only cut their hair in times of mourning as the hair represented that time they had with their loved ones who have passed.

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This is the reason why Laquita Lonebear says this was a cultural attack.

"It would just be like me chopping your steeple of your church or breaking the cross in front of you."

"That would be against your beliefs. You have beliefs, I have beliefs. I am hurt."

Unfortunately, Dominique, the poor child is too traumatized to speak about the incident. 

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Superintendent of Clinton Public Schools Tyler Bridges told Oklahoma News:

"We have been in contact throughout the day with the family and our full investigation into the matter is taking place currently."

The Lonebear family hopes to get justice.

Laquita Lonebear said:

"It (doesn't) matter how old or how young, they need to learn to respect people."

"People, their beliefs, their traditions, whatever."

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma Governor Reggie Wassana released a statement about the incident and the statement holds words of anger, disappointment, and concern for Dominique Lonebear. 

"I respectfully request that all of the administrators and leaders at Clinton Public Schools take this situation very seriously."

"Hateful acts at school are dangerous, disturbing and disruptive."

"While one incident alone does not define a school, it is in many ways, a test of the school's culture and climate."

"How you respond is the true measure of a school's character."

He further encouraged the district employees to actively welcome students and set expectations to condemn violence. Also, Wassana said their policies should reflect that.

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He added:

"Nationwide, more than 90 percent of Native students attend integrated public schools near or on reservations, which have historically restricted tribal influence over curriculum, funding and staffing."

"Native American students have some of worst academic outcomes in public schools: They score lower than nearly all other demographic groups on national tests and less than three-fourths of Native students graduate from high school."

"I was encourages and inspired by the expressions of the Lonebear family memebers. While dealing with the anger and frustration of an assault on their child, they suggested a positive solution is possible: more native culture traditions taught in the Clinton schools."

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Diné Navojo citizen and TikTok creator Lance Tsosie also came across this distressing incident and made a video on his social media account.

In Tsosie's video, he said:

"After the assault, Dominique did not report it immediately due to fear of retaliation."

"Which makes me question, what kind of environment are educators at Washington Elementary School creating where students are afraid to report incidences like this?"

He urged his followers to call Superintendent Tyler Bridges and ask him to incorporate Thunder's Hair into their curriculum.

Credit: News6
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Thunder's Hair by Jessie Taken Alive-Rencountre—Hunkpapa Lakota from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe—is a book about how a young Indigenous man deals with bullying over his long hair and how he connects himself to it.

Taken Alive-Rencountre is a "dancer, mother, writer, wife and counselor." She has been a school counselor for over a decade in the Rapid City South Dakota School District. Twenty percent of the district's students are Indigenous.

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Together with her husband, well known powwow emcee Whitney Rencountre, she helped establish the Social Distance Powwow to keep Indigenous people connected and powwow culture alive during the pandemic.

Social Distance Powwow (SDP) has also been a way for Indigenous people to share news, issues and support. SDP has been sharing messages of support for Dominique and the Lonebear family.

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