Native American Boy Pulled Out Of Class For Mohawk, Parents Told To Cut His Hair

A 7-year-old Native American boy was pulled out of class for his Mohawk haircut common among members of his family’s tribe. School authorities said the Mohawk “was too distracting” in the classroom environment and asked the boy’s mother to get her son’s hair cut.

The boy who was pulled out of class, Jakobe Sanden, is in second grade at Arrowhead Elementary School in Santa Clara, Utah. Jakobe’s mother, Teyawnna Sanden, was outraged when the school called her and asked for her son’s hair to be cut because his Mohawk is against the dress code.

The Daily Mail reports Mrs. Sanden was asked to pick up her son, but she pulled him out of school instead.

Mrs. Sanden told Fox 13, “I didn’t think it was a big deal. He just got his hair cut on Friday, so I wasn’t expecting it. He’s had a Mohawk on and off his whole life. His hair, it’s important to him.”

Principal Susan Harrah said the boy was pulled out of class for his Mohawk because it was a distraction for the other kids who weren’t used to seeing the hairstyle.

Harrah told Fox 13, “We had the students that weren’t used to it. They had called that out. So the teacher brought the student to my attention.”

Harrah also told the Salt Lake City Tribune she was surprised news of the boy being pulled out of class for a Mohawk made national news.

“There’s a protocol that we go through, and I felt like it was handled efficiently and that we respected their culture,” Harrah said to the newspaper.

Gary Sanden, the boy’s father, explained his other son, who’s three years older, didn’t want a Mohawk, and the principal brought this up during their conversation, asking why his younger son didn’t get the same haircut as his older brother.

“I have two (sons) who go to Arrowhead. My other boy, he’s 10, didn’t want a Mohawk and went with the non-native haircut, kind of high and tight. So the principal says well, you have another son here who doesn’t have a Mohawk, why can’t you cut (the younger boy’s) hair that way too.”

According to CBS News, the parents were going to show the Tribal Card to prove their son is Native American, but the school demanded a letter from the Seneca Nation Tribe. Mr. Sanden is a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, while Mrs. Sanden is a member of the Kaibab Band of Paiutes Indians.

William Canella, a Seneca Nation Tribal Councilor, wrote the letter to Jakobe Sanden’s school confirming the Mohawk is a traditional style among members.

“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 (the boy) does not suffer any discrimination by the school administration or faculty as a result of his hair cut,” wrote William Canella, a Seneca Nation Tribal Councilor to the school authorities in his letter on the subject.

On the Washington Post’s website, the majority of people commenting on this story are in agreement–they believe the school should focus on teaching kids rather than what they look like. The consensus seems to be the boy’s Mohawk is “adorable” as described by several who commented and was questioned as to why the boy was pulled out of class.

After receiving the letter, the school allowed Jakobe Sanden to keep his Mohawk. Jakobe’s father said while he understands why the school has a dress code, he doesn’t know why he had to jump through so many hoops before his son’s Mohawk was approved.

What do you think about the boy being pulled out of class for his Mohawk?

[Image via Twitter]
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