Change Cierra Fields, a student at Fort Gibson High, was also told
to take alternate online course.
Fields, a Fort Gibson high school student and member of the
Oklahoma Cherokee Nation, says she was removed from her classroom
on Tuesday morning, February 28th after refusing to stand
for or say the pledge of allegiance. Fields is a Champion
for Change, anti-rape advocate and correspondent for ICMN.
Cierra Fields, a Fort Gibson high school student and member of
the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, says she was removed from her classroom
on Tuesday morning, February 28 after refusing to stand for or say
the pledge of allegiance. Fields, a Champion for Change, anti-rape
advocate and correspondent for ICMN, says soon after she said she
would not participate, she received a verbal lashing from her teacher.
After I said I was not going to participate, my teacher
raised her voice and said she refused to educate ungodly and unpatriotic
students. She was angry and told me that perhaps I needed to take
an online course in lieu of the class, said Fields.
Fields marching for Native Rape Survivors and the Violence
Against Womens Act at the Womens March in Oklahoma.
(photo courtesy Terri Fields)
After I refused to pledge to the flag, my teacher removed
me from class by taking me into the hallway in direct view of some
of the students. My teacher questioned me and screamed at me about
how her father missed a year of her life in Vietnam and how her
husband was an Afghanistan war veteran, Fields said.
Fields also said the teacher questioned Cierras potential
disrespect toward her own fathers military service, a 10-year
U.S. Army veteran.
Not only has my family served in all branches of the military,
they served for my right to not pledge and/or stand. I dont
stand or pledge because the flag is an idol and I consider pledging
to an object idolatry. As a Native youth, I do not agree that there
is liberty and justice for all people.
To tell me such a thing and bring into question my rights
to take a stance is in direct violation of the First Amendment and
West Virginia State School Board Vs. Barnette. Such behavior by
a teacher also violates the Religious Freedom Act of 1978, as it
questions my beliefs, she said.
Fort Gibson principal Gary Sparks told ICMN no one was removed
from class, and gave a contradictory account of the incident. He
also told ICMN that understands that a student has the right to
not stand for the flag ceremony and that students who do not wish
to participate can come to the principals office to wait it
Fields, 14, was named one of five 2013 Champions for Change
by the Center for Native American Youth.
(photo by Vincent Schilling)
We did not have any students removed from class for not
standing. During third period, we always do the flag salute and
the teacher just asked [Fields] why she didnt want to. [The
student] explained why she didnt and asked if she could come
down to the office, which she was allowed to do, he said.
Everyone has a right not to stand if they dont want
to. We have a couple of students who do that too; so they do that
quietly while we do the flag salute and we just move on, said
Everyone has their right to do what they need to do. Thats
how America works.
Cierra Fields mother, Terri Henderson-Fields, told ICMN
in an e-mail that she was upset and that that members of her family
have served in the military. She also said the teacher bringing
into question Cierras potential disrespect toward her own
fathers military service by not doing the Pledge of Allegiance
was unacceptable. Cierras father Richard served the
Army for 10 years. My father served in Vietnam. My father-in-law
served in Korea. My grandfather served in WWII. We have given blood,
sweat, tears and even lives for this country and Cierras right
not to pledge.
Today, the White House convenes its first United State of Women
Summit. Cierra Fields, a 17-year-old advocate against sexual assault
and a rape survivor from Fort Gibson, Oklahoma (Cherokee) is one
of eight women brought to Washington D.C. by the White House to
the White House convened its first United State of Women Summit
in 2016. Cierra Fields, a 17-year-old advocate against sexual
assault and a rape survivor from Fort Gibson, Oklahoma (Cherokee)
was one of eight women brought to Washington D.C. by the White
House to attend. (photo courtesy Instagram)
The Fields family has asked the school and the teacher to issue
an apology. They have also asked for the Fort Gibson High School
to consider a traditional Cherokee representative to attend or speak
at the schools graduation ceremony this summer, when Cierra
Fields hopes to get her diploma.