Eagle Feather Ceremony Held for Native American Graduates

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About half of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians graduating seniors were able to attend the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association Eagle Feather Ceremony with Soboba Tribal Council Chairman Isaiah Vivanco, Secretary Monica Herrera and Sergeant at Arms Kelli Hurtado, May 12.

Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians | Contributed

The Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association hosted an Eagle Feather Ceremony for all the Tribes that belong to the multi-service, nonprofit organization. The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians were invited to join in 2020.

SCTCA was established in 1972 for a consortium of 25 federally recognized Indian Tribes in Southern California. All 25 member Tribes had graduates attend the May 12 ceremony at Harrah’s Resort Southern California at Rincon in San Diego County. More than 200 students were presented with eagle feathers, which have an important cultural and spiritual significance.

The eagle is the strongest and bravest of all birds. For this reason, Native Americans have chosen the eagle and its feathers as a symbol of what is highest, bravest, strongest and holiest. In the Native American culture, eagle feathers are given to another in honor and the feathers are worn with dignity and pride. Eagle feathers represent honesty, truth, majesty, strength, courage, wisdom, power and freedom.

Eagle feathers are given to high school seniors to wear during their commencement and to celebrate their graduation. This is a time when young men and women are on the precipice of venturing out into the world through higher education, careers, trade apprenticeships and/or travel. They will be demonstrating strength and courage as they move into the next phase of their lives.

The feathers are also given for students’ leadership and academic achievement, as a sign of maturity, to signify the achievement of this important educational journey, to honor the graduate and his or her family, community, and tribal nation and for many other reasons.

Soboba Tribal Council Chairman Isaiah Vivanco, alongside Secretary Monica Herrera and Sergeant at Arms Kelli Hurtado, presented each Soboba Tribal member student with a feather.

“This is a very special event,” Vivanco said. “I like that our graduates get to walk on stage and be presented eagle feathers by their respective Tribal councils. It’s an awesome recognition with family in attendance.”

Hurtado said she is so proud of the Class of 2022 and hopes they realize the sky’s the limit and nothing can stop them.

“The feather ceremony was so amazing and the best part about it for me was seeing all of our young ones so happy with their accomplishments,” she said. “We had so many graduates this year, including my nephew Gage Almanza, who graduated from Sherman Indian High School earlier that day.”

Hurtado was thankful for the opportunity to hug Rudy Pimentel, whose mother Carol Arrietta passed away a while ago. “To see her son and to see how far he has come made my heart so happy,” she said.

The ceremony was meaningful to Herrera as well, who was proud to see so many of Soboba’s youth graduating this year.

“Being able to present them with an eagle feather to wear with pride when they accept their diploma at their respective high schools was a true blessing,” she said. “It is so nice to see our youth put such a strong emphasis on their education. We look forward to them stepping into our shoes and serving on Tribal Council in the future.”

The primary mission of the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association is to serve the health, welfare, safety, education, cultural, economic and employment needs of its Tribal members and descendants. It is governed by a board of directors comprised of Tribal chairpersons from each of its member Tribes.

SCTCA coordinates and administers numerous grant programs for its members and the Southern California Indian community, including Tribal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Law Enforcement, Food Commodities, Information Technology Services, Rincon Child Development Center, Adult Vocational Training, Career Development Center, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Library Program, Child Care Development Services, Tribal Digital Village (TDV) and Resource Prevention Program.

For more information, www.sctca.net.

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