Overwhelming Support: Nevada Governor Lombardo Signs Bill Allowing Students to Wear Religious and Cultural Regalia at Graduation

Nv Gov Lombardo holds a signing ceremony in May 25, 2023 for AB 73 allowing students to wear religious and cultural regalia at graduation ceremonies. (Credit: Nevada Governor’s Office)

On Thursday, Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo hosted a signing ceremony for AB 73, which codifies the right of public school students to wear religious and cultural adornments and regalia at school graduation ceremonies.


In a statement, Gov. Lombardo wrote:

Every student is entitled to express their unique cultural and religious identity at their graduation, and I’m honored to be able to ensure that right through signing AB 73. This legislation will allow students to walk with pride and confidence at their graduation, and I’m grateful to all of the teachers, legislators, and students who worked to get it to my desk.

The bill’s primary sponsor was Assemblyman Reuben D’Silva (D-Las Vegas) and passed the Assembly and Senate unanimously.

The Governor was joined at the signing ceremony by students from across the state, Stacey Montooth, Executive Director of the Nevada Indian Commission, and Assembly members, most of whom have Native American ancestry.

The issue of appropriate graduation attire has sparked conflicts across the country, leading to the enactment of laws in over a dozen states that prohibit educational institutions from restricting Native American students from proudly donning regalia that reflects their cultural heritage.

Oklahoma joined a growing number of states passing similar legislation on Thursday, with its Legislature successfully overriding Governor Kevin Stitt’s (R) veto of a bill permitting students to wear Native American regalia during high school and college graduations. The measure, set to take effect on July 1, received overwhelming support in both the House and Senate, surpassing the required two-thirds majority. The bill garnered strong backing from numerous tribes and Native American citizens based in Oklahoma.


Gov. Stitt, a Cherokee Nation citizen who has faced conflicts with numerous Oklahoma-based Native American tribes during his tenure, vetoed the bill earlier this month, asserting that the decision should rest with individual school districts. In his veto message, Stitt stated:

In other words, if schools choose to permit their students to wear tribal regalia during graduation, they should have that freedom. However, if schools opt for students to adhere to the traditional cap and gown attire, the Legislature should not impede their choice.

On Thursday, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. expressed his gratitude to the Oklahoma Legislature for the veto override, writing:

I hope Governor Stitt understands that his overall hostility towards tribes leads nowhere. The majority of Oklahomans believe in respecting the rights of Native Americans and collaborating with the sovereign tribes who share this land.

Kamryn Yanchick, a member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, was denied the ability to wear a decorated cap adorned with a beaded pattern during her high school graduation in 2018. Now a Native American policy advocate, Yanchick emphasized the significance of being able to “unapologetically express yourself and take pride in your culture at a celebration without having to seek permission from a non-Native individual.”


Earlier this month, Lena’ Black, a Native American former student filed a lawsuit against Broken Arrow Public Schools and two staff members after being forced to remove a culturally symbolic eagle feather from her graduation cap before the high school commencement ceremony.

Nevada and Oklahoma join Alaska, Arizona, California, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington in having statutes that specifically protect the right to wear tribal regalia.


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