The Lovelock Paiute Tribe just celebrated a victory.
On Saturday, June 1, a record number of Native high school students received their diplomas.
“This is the largest group of Native graduates we’ve had in quite a while,” said Sherri Sandusky, of the tribal council.
On Friday, May 24, the tribe feted Ayden Calvin, Jayce Leyva, Edward Happy II, Evan Smokey, Danneeka Garretson, James Rhodes, Faith Happy, Joaquin Wanner, Derek Sandusky and Sam Bokori.
“This dinner has been in the works for months,” said Sandusky.
The grads-to-be sat at a place of honor amid graduation-themed favors. They were first in the banquet line, piling their plates with roast beef and salads – topped with cake and cupcakes for dessert. A roomful of parents, grandparents and siblings followed. There was plenty for everyone.
Family members presented each student with a Pendleton blanket. The grads-to-be draped themselves in wool and smiled for photos with their mothers, fathers, close friends and grandparents.
The blankets have played a significant role in Native culture since 1895, when the Pendleton Woolen Mills opened in Pendleton, Oregon. As gifts, they note great achievement.
“We thought the blankets would be something they could take with them when they go away to school or whatever they’ve decided to do after graduation,” said Sandusky.
She hopes the dinner becomes a tradition for the Lovelock Paiute tribe and its future graduates.
“All the families are so proud of these young adults,” said Sandusky. “As for our family, we couldn’t be prouder of Derek. We’ve been looking forward to this day since he graduated from Kindergarten.”