Education | National

Native boy sent home from school in Utah for traditional haircut

Jakobe Sanden in his Mohawk haircut. Family photo

A Native boy was sent home from his public school in Utah last week after administrators deemed his traditional haircut to be 'distracting."

Jakobe Sanden, 7, was allowed to return after a leader of the Seneca Nation in New York intervened. But the boy's parents are upset about the way their family was treated over the Mohawk hairstyle.

“I told the superintendent I was in no means going to cut his hair because it’s a symbol of who we are,” Gary Sanden, the boy's father, told The Washington Post.

Jakobe is Paiute and Seneca. His haircut represents pride in his ancestry, Seneca Nation council member William Canella said in a letter to the Washington County School District.

“It is common for Seneca boys to wear a Mohawk because after years of discrimination and oppression, they are proud to share who they are. It’s disappointing that your school does not view diversity in a positive manner, and it is our hope that Jakobe does not suffer from any discrimination by the school administration or faculty as a result of his hair cut," Canella wrote, according to news reports.

Native kids at other public schools have been sent home for wearing their hair long.

Get the Story:
Native American child sent home over traditional mohawk (The St. George Spectrum 9/20)
Native American boy pulled from class over Mohawk haircut (The Washington Post 9/19)
American Indian student at Utah’s Arrowhead Elementary told to cut his Mohawk or leave (The Salt Lake Tribune 9/18)
Dress code collides with culture as Native American student with mohawk sent to principal’s office (Fox13 News 9/17)

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Five-year-old Navajo boy sent home from school for his long hair (08/28)
NPR: 5th Circuit to hear Native boy's long hair case (12/4)
Commentary: Native boy fights to keep hair long (6/30)
Boy's hair length at issue for school in Texas (7/15)

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