DG Oakdale at Linganore football 14

Oakdale at Linganore football in October 2016.

A headdress worn by the leader of the student section during athletic events at Linganore High School has been banned.

Linganore Principal Nancy Doll confirmed Wednesday that the school would not allow the Native American headdress to be worn by students as it has been in years past. The decision came after increased complaints had been made to school administrators about the headdress being offensive to Native Americans.

“We want our school to be a welcoming environment to all students and we felt this was the best way to make sure all students felt welcome at school,” Doll said. “After researching what [Native American] headdresses mean to this culture, we felt it was best to get rid of it.”

Two petitions have been created — one to encourage the ban on the headdress and another to oppose it — and have each garnered more than 1,500 signatures. As of Thursday evening, the petition to bring back the headdress had garnered 1,948 signatures — most of which were from community members and alumni.

The majority of the signatures supporting the ban of the headdress came from people who were spread across the country or throughout the world.

“I understand that some people find it offensive,” said Linganore senior Jacob Garwood, who was recently elected chief. “We never meant to offend anyone, but we take a lot of pride in this tradition and it means a lot to us. I hope there is a way we can work something out so we can keep the tradition but allow everyone to feel welcome.”

Each year, students vote on an incoming senior to become the “chief” of the student section, which is dubbed “the tribe.” That students dons the headdress for each football and basketball game.

Native American regalia has been a hot-button issue nationwide, with much of the talk revolving around the use of the Washington Redskins team name and logo. This week, Bethesda Beat reported that the Green Acres School, a private school in Montgomery County, will not allow students or staff to wear Redskins gear to school.

Frederick County Public Schools Communications Director Michael Doerrer said the school system is not banning Redskins gear at its schools, nor is it getting involved in this particular issue at Linganore.

“This does not violate the FCPS dress code and is being handled as a school issue,” Doerrer said.

The Linganore mascot and logo have been subjects of local debate for years. Most recently, in 2002, a Montgomery County resident tried to get the logo changed because he said it was offensive to Native Americans.

In 2013, a Linganore journalism student, Noah Ismael, published a column examining the racial implications of the school’s mascot and logo.

Doll said Wednesday that the school will not ban the mascot or logo, or abandon the team name “Lancers.” The headdress will be the only thing removed.

Headdresses in Native American culture were often designated for the chief of a tribe. They often consisted of many feathers, which, depending on the bird or circumstance, were often considered sacred. Feathers were often accumulated in battle.

“We see feathers as gifts from the Creator,” said Juan Boston, vice chairman of the board of directors at the Baltimore American Indian Center.

Receiving an eagle feather is seen as sacred, and one of the highest honors one can receive, said Boston, who is the uncle of a Linganore graduate. To earn enough feathers to fill a headdress like the ones often seen in popular culture, one would have dedicated years of service and battle to the Native American community.

“I’m 58, and in my life, I have received one eagle feather,” Boston said. “When you see some people wearing one jumping around like a monkey yelling like an idiot, it is disrespectful to our culture.

“It’s like if someone were to wear an Army general’s uniform and parade around jumping and yelling making a mockery of it. The outcry would be incredible.”

The school is exploring possible alternatives, including the use of a spear for the student leader, Doll said. The school is also considering putting the headdress in a display case with an explanation of the heritage and Linganore’s relationship with Native American culture to make a “Heritage Room,” Doll said.

Boston said if the headdress were authentic, he would expect Native Americans would be pleased to see the headdress displayed in a protective enclosure.

But many members of the Linganore community believe the tradition should be able to continue because it enhances school spirit.

Harry Rasmussen, who was the chief last year, said wearing the school headdress was one of the main factors that helped him acclimate to a new county when he started at Linganore as a freshman.

“I understand that it may be offensive to some people but it has been, in my opinion at least, the biggest tradition Linganore has,” Rasmussen said. “It’s been passed down for more years than I know. It’s not meant to be demeaning or have bad intentions. It symbolizes the school as one. We are all one tribe at Linganore, and I think the headdress just sort of completes that.

“We all respect the headdress and who’s wearing it. We understand it means something.”

Follow Allen Etzler on Twitter: @AllenWEtzler.

(47) comments


Haters gonna hate. If you let them have a spear, someone will whine it's a weapon and ban that. Cheering and rallying the crowd is not acting like a monkey, monkeys should now be offended


The Linganore Lancer IS an Indian, in traditional headgear, as represented by the historical wood statue located in the area near the cafeteria. Lancer pride to me means that the school's teams and students have the same loyalty and pride that the American Indian Natives who fiercely fought for their land, their people, and their very lives did. To remove this heritage wipes out the very fact that the Natives of our land fully deserved to keep their lands in tact and that the colonists wrongfully obliterated them. To remove all cultural appreciation for this rightful fight to keep their heritage alive and well means to fully obliterate the Native American Indian from history. And, that is wrong in my eyes. To express pride in being as fierce and loyal to culture and heritage alike as a Native American Indian is, is really showing an appreciation to keeping the Native American History at the forefront of people's knowledge. It is only offensive to the Native American People if you want to hide their culture and forget they existed and fought for what was rightfully theirs and was wrongfully taken away.


There are too many other really important issues that our schools, communities and country need to be focusing on and it's not the Indian headdress that is worn as a symbol of the uplifting spirit of strength and bravery passed down from our native American heritage.


OMG get a grip ! Get a back bone and stand up for your school principle! My husband is 3/4 Cherokee and he is not offended so why are you ? I will be at the game and I will be wearing a headdress


My thoughts are that this particular principal, hailing previously from Urbana - Linganore's historical and current 'arch rival', still has school spirit ties to her old job. That, and she has no full understanding that keeping the Native American Culture alive means to keep the pride in such culture alive..... Sad.


I do wonder about educators. So many know the words but miss the tune all the way. We need our best to be teachers (and nurses and librarians.)


Come on Gary! Generalizations and silly statements do not capture the majority of educators or their dedication to students and the profession.


As a librarian I considered myself to be an educator and one has to point out when simple notions are misused. If the new IBM Watson system said two and two are twenty two, we would have to fault it. Even when it does great work most of the time.


Happy Seller
Where ?
I'll buy 500 and hand out with hot dogs and lemonade pre game on my land
All peppy student who are ready for football fun, team comraderie that will build career skills and friendly student peer support are welcome with their teachers parents friends from all teams
You must wear team support garb as the ending bonfire of love with all kids from all teams and alike will honor Fredrick County spirit during such troubling world issues
Go Linganore
Go Urbana
Go Catoctin
Go. Walkersville
Go Middletown
Go. Tuscarora
Go Frederick
Go Brunswick



Great response!!! ☺☺☺

I also wish the best to all of our local high school football teams - and I have always belived in comraderie, team sportsmanship and school spirit/unity!

Sure would be funny if some upcoming Ligonier seniors ended up studying at Florida State (Seminoles) or William & Mary (the Tribe). Two great colleves - and two great mascots and rabid fan bases!


Just another clueless teacher that was made a principal.


How long have taught? Have you even been a principal? Yeah, I thought so.




Everyone watch for the unintended consequences begin to surface.

A bunch of enterprising high schoolers are going to start selling headdresses out on the street before football and basketball games to parents and members of the general public, and before you know it, you may have dozens of headdresses at each sporting event in the stands. As long as they are not on a student's head, then no harm, no foul. Anyone can buy inexpensive headdresses on EBAY or AMAZON TO resell.

In addition, some enterprising high schoolers may start up a face painting business outside the gates as well to compliment the headdresses. Each Ligonier HS sporting event could start looking like an Indian encampment!

Are you gonna rip the headdresses off of tee shirts? Car magnets? Caps? Is face paint next to be banned? Moccasins?

This is so ridiculous. Boys can wear dresses and go into the girls bathroom if they identify with it, but they cannot wear a headdress. This is PC run amok, and such a joke. I can see my local taxpayer dollars are well at work at FCPS by actually spending any more than a millisecond on this issue...


FCPS team names and mascots need to change! Lions, Cougars and Hawks since they are predatory animals and one may feel threatened and insecure. Patriots since it's too American and not inclusive enough. Cadets and Lancers have multiple issues. First the Cadet is threatening by a military or police definition so one may feel intimidated to go to school and the saber could be a weapon. The Lancers are taking advantage of Native American heritage and the Lancer is a weapon. So, FCPS supports weapon! I could go on with the Knights and Titans but I won't.

I say this ALL as a joke but one day it's coming. The only one that is safe is the Bears but only if they include a picnic basket.


The bears aren't safe, either. especially with a picnic basket..... supporting petty thievery is a no-no!


So if you have a handful of people complain and sign a petition you cave in and declare what "offends" them as illegal. Then you have a greater number of people complain about your actions and sign a petition with TWICE as many signatures. Do you rescind your previous ruling and get back to tradition? Who do you coddle to the 1% or the majority? People should just chill and worry about things that matter!!!


Look, if white people want to do it, it has to be allowed. All these people who insist they have a "culture". Everybody knows there was no culture before white people.


Not even yeast?


A lot of us white people dont have much culture either Seven. All being "erased".


I bet the person offended was some hateful, liberal school administrator, who wishes Frederick County schools were more like those in Montgomery County -- minus the metal detectors, gang violence and free-falling test scores found in progressive MoCo.




They quoted someone at the Baltimore American Indian Center. He found it offensive.

I guess take it up with him.


I can find at least one person who will be offended by almost anything. I guess we are letting the Hecklers Veto rule the day huh? Be prepared for the avalanche of unintended consequence. These supine administrators are educated beyond their intelligence level.


I welcome you to try to teach and to attempt to run a high school. I guarantee it won't end well for you. Perhaps are don't have enough education or intelligence.


Let them stay in Baltimore then.


SMH seems to me that the Linganore teams have earned the right to wear the headdress; not that I care.


War bonnets (also called warbonnets or headdresses) are feathered headgear traditionally worn by male leaders of the American Plains Indians Nations who have earned a place of great respect in their tribe. Originally they were sometimes worn into battle, but they are now primarily used for ceremonial occasions. They are seen as items of great spiritual and political importance, only to be worn by those who have earned the right and honour through formal recognition by their People.


Boys, you can wear a dress, just not a headdress.




I am offended by hijabs and burkas because they represent the subjugation of women and their relegation to second-class citizens. [ninja]




They bring a spear to school, because it is a weapon


If I remember correctly, the "Chief" of the student section was typically one of the most airheaded men in the class who would do anything to be popular and get in front of a camera so this is no surprise. What's curious is well before 2004 the old mascot logo of a deliberately, poorly drawn Native American (a pre-school interpretation of the local Linganore tribe members) was taken off most merch and LUYAA logos. What's even stranger is war bonnets (pictured by the super cool brah up top) are worn by the plains tribes and nowhere have been recorded on the east coast, ever. In conclusion; don't worry folks, Linganore Alum have long thought their own school to protect ignorant semi-racist jocks, and it looks like they're still keeping at it.




Heck to the yeah! 100% agree, especially about the 'ignorant semi-racist jocks.' What an embarrassment. It's high school sport, get over yourselves!


CRSmith88, you come across as one of those types who hates sports, football in particular, and will use any excuse, any controversy, to shut down the sport. And I don't see any racial or ethnic insensitivity with Linganore. You're more likely to find cruel and menacing behavior down in MoCo, in schools like Seneca Valley, Watkins Mill, Wheaton, etc.


I wrestled varsity and went 21-14 freshman year. I like sports. I was also VP of engineering club senior year when we went to nationals in Atlanta. I think footballers take themselves to be gods at LHS because the staff treats them as such and because the staff takes the sport WAY to seriously they are forced to look the other way when students do things like steroids, hazing, or take advantage of female students at parties. Linganore is not special in this regard. We've had excellent coaching for years and a great crop of students and BECASUE of that the school deserves to hold themselves to a higher standard. An excellent team succeeds on field and off, it's just to me this "tradition" is straight out of the 1970s when optics were less important.


Oh yea, BTW menacing behavior...here's a fun one: We used to have a few minutes at our pep rallys every year to remind the seniors and juniors to not throw batteries at the freshman when the gymnasium was shouting "CHARGE!". It never worked. Did they still do that when you graduated in 2010? What a not-cruel tradition.

Comment deleted.

Never bet on a unproven horse, even one you're related to.


You come across as a little bitter duffy....

Comment deleted.

I also happen to know this young man. To disparage and criticize based on your own insecurities and prejudices is not only unfair, it is extremely hateful. Look in the mirror sometime.


The words 'chief' and 'tribe' are copyright Native Americans world-wide. Hats with feathers on them, too. Sorry, Village People, your videos are now banned on youtube. In many Hollywood western films in the past the actors who played the roles of Native Americans were played by non-Native Americans. These films must be destroyed as they will offend Native Americans.


“It’s like if someone were to wear an Army general’s uniform and parade around jumping and yelling making a mockery of it. The outcry would be incredible.” NO, THE OUTCRY WOULD NOT BE INCREDIBLE. NOBODY WOULD GET THERE FEELINGS HURT. AND NOBODY WOULD START A PETITION TO BAN THE HYPOTHETICAL STUDENT "GENERAL." THIS MOVEMENT HAS GONE OFF THE DEEP EDGE. ENOUGH ALREADY!


you sure about that?



You think a HS mascot is equivalent to stolen valor? People need to chill out and put things in the proper prospective.


Look at how many "Rockers" wear military uniforms and medals and such. No issue. As an Army retiree I only have issue with individuals sporting medals they haven't earned. That's called "stolen valor".


What a joke.

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