Opinion: Why I'm asking my high school to ban students from wearing Native American headdresses

Editor's Note: To sign the petition started by Hannah Lee and her fellow students, click here.

"I promise nobody cares at all. Let us have our fun and stay away from our school pride," was what I was told when I asked a school-pride Instagram account if they would share a petition on educating students on Cherokee culture.

This is one of many interchangeable conversations that take place on the topic of honoring Native American people. My school showcases a singular problem that stems from a larger issue of negative societal views and perceptions; there are so many accounts of other political and economical impacts that take place because of the constant cultural appropriation and stereotypes that are said about this ethnic group.



In a survey published in 2018, 40% of the respondents did not believe that Native Americans still existed. With this large misconception, how can we expect that Native Americans are rightfully represented, when they are not even recognized by a population that resides on their original land? During the Dakota Pipeline Protests, in which the Sioux tribe fought to protect their land, the media finally began to shine light on Native Americans. The Sioux were recognized for their efforts in preservation, and in the end, were granted justice.

These media coverages help put out that Native Americans were still, very much alive and fighting to have their voices heard. This situation happened in 2016-2017, resulting in the pipeline being moved to a different location.

However, in recent light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Native Americans have been forgotten once more. The virus continues to disproportionately affect Native American tribes. Because Indians have less access to government funding and supplies, they have had to be twice as careful when opening and closing businesses. To protect their own, many tribes have had to close their main sources of income. Not only does this further setback Natives economically, but it also threatens their longevity. Already, Native Americans have a lower life expectancy and higher rates of poverty. This virus and lack of government aid, (because officials do not give the same attention to reservations and tribes as they do to non-Native citizens!) contributes further to the erasure of the Native American people, culture, and history.

So, what does this have to do with your school?

Glad you asked, reader!



The East Coweta High School in Sharpsburg, GA mascot assets.change.org


My school, East Coweta High School in Sharpsburg, GA, is part of the many schools and sports teams that use an Indian (or Native American) as their mascot. Though we (like-minded peers and I) have considered creating a petition to completely change the school mascot, we have come to a consensus in which that would be unnecessary for the purpose of changing the mascot (in our case).

After speaking with Lamar Sneed, a Cherokee Indian culture/history educator, he told us that the mascot was not offensive and was actually a way of honoring the Native American people as strong warriors. Furthermore, he talked about how the school systems, especially in high school, do little to educate its students on their local Native American culture and history. Dr. Sneed asked that students not wear headdresses or any mock "Indian garb". The reason? By students doing so, they are disrespecting the huge symbolism and ceremonial significance that a headdress contains. Even within tribes, headdresses are not commonly given out; why should we, as non-Natives, culturally appropriate this custom?



Images from Elle Magazine via Mic


The type of "Indian garb" that students wear at my school is not only a Halloween-costume type garb, but also an outdated, stereotyped clothing that further stipulates that there is only one "type" of Indian. Currently, there are over 500 nationally recognized Indian tribes, and by students continuing to wear such clothing, they only contribute to the ever-deteriorating image that blatantly states that "Native Americans are from the past" and that "there is only one tribe of Indians". Numerous sources ( including BBC and Mic) go on to say that while students claim to be honoring the Native American people through wearing these types of clothing, they rarely know the history or background of where that clothing came from.

These continued allowances of cultural appropriation derive from a lack of students being educated on these topics. The upside is that we have a plan! This plan would involve a video created by the Cherokee Indians, educating the high school's students on the history and culture of the Cherokee and Creek Indian Tribes, which had presided in the school's area in past history. This video would be shared throughout the community, and eventually shown in school during orientations and homeroom periods. The plan would also include banning students from wearing Indian garb and headdresses.

By both these ideas being implemented, I believe that students would stray from making ignorant decisions, and grow as human beings to love, accept, and APPRECIATE the Native American culture, rather than appropriate it. In order to try and implement these ideas into real-life, a group of peers and I have created a petition with a goal of trying to reach 3,000 signatures. Though this may seem like not much, the town where I come from has proven difficult to sway to supporting this petition. Many say that by banning headdresses and Indian garb, that I would be taking away from my high school's personal culture. For some people, I suppose it is hard to get rid of a normalized custom.

An example includes a petition started in opposition to the one that has been started by a group of peers and I. This petition has garnered almost 1,000 signatures (mostly from adults?) to call for my high school to continue using headdresses. The petition outlines that the reason they want to keep it, is because the headdress is my highschool's culture (huh?). As these are grown adults signing this petition, I am shocked and saddened of the ignorance of some of the older generation. Contrary to this statement, there have been an amazing group of supporters who have shared and signed the petition. From old to young to the in between, the support has been strong enough to keep the petition relevant. As of now (me writing this), the petition has garnered a little over 300 signatures, 10% of the intended goal. My hope, as well as other supporters' hopes, are that the petition will at least have started a conversation needed to be had on cultural appropriation and the normalization of these stereotypical forms of racism.

Does petitioning actually work?

Yes! Not only does it grab the attention of the person who has the power to make the petition happen, but it also helps to initiate the interest of community members as well. For example, when the Sioux Tribe was fighting to keep their sacred land out of direct contact with the Dakota Access pipeline, the 370,000 signatures goaded the president at that time, Obama, to issue a response and solutions that ultimately ended in the Sioux and other Great Plains Indian Tribes finding victory and justice. The newfound pressure that comes upon the person who can make it happen, is a result of people coming together on a topic that they support. This kind of pressure is showcased through the story in which the Washington NFL team ended up dropping their previously insensitive name. So, it isn't necessarily the petitioning itself, but rather the hundreds of thousands of people rallying together to fight for what's right that ends up convincing the decision maker to act!

This kind of support does not magically come up on its own, unfortunately. Which is why we need the help of people outside my small community, to help others become knowledgeable of these issues and ultimately work together to do what's right: shed light on the Indigenous people and stop cultural appropriation from within.

Hannah Lee is a student at East Coweta High School in Sharpsburg, GA

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.