Two seniors honored at Eagle Feather Ceremony

Two seniors pose for a photo wrapped in blankets and with Eagle feathers tied in their hair.

Two Native American seniors were honored on June 2 at an Eagle Feather Ceremony hosted by the American Indian Education Program. The traditional ceremony honored Austria Lewis and Freddy Esters for their accomplishment of graduating high school.

The celebration included a smudging ceremony, eagle feather ceremony and dinner. Locally sourced indigenous foods were provided for the meal.

“As Native American people, we’ve gone through a lot of historical trauma especially with school systems so for our seniors to be here today—especially through the pandemic—just shows resilience through their education process, and we want to honor them in the highest way that we can,” said Jessica Glidden, American Indian Cultural Liaison & Program Lead.

The eagle feather is the highest honor one can receive in the Native American culture. The passing of a feather to an individual is a very sacred gift. As part of the ceremony, eagle feathers were tied to the hair of the seniors. Once the feather was secure, attendees lined up to congratulate the scholars on their accomplishments.

Austria Lewis is part of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. She will attend St. Cloud State in the fall where she will study healthcare management. She also plans to participate on the dance team.

Freddy Esters is part of the Cree/Choctaw Nation. He will attend the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to study agricultural education. His goal is to reduce the amount of pollution caused by farming.