updated 5/25/2006 12:08:06 AM ET 2006-05-25T04:08:06

American Indian high school students will be allowed to wear eagle feathers attached to their caps at graduation, Mesa Public Schools said, reversing an earlier decision.

Students and elders from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community had protested after Mesa school administrators told Westwood High seniors last week they would be allowed to only wear a cap, gown and honor cord designating academic achievement at the ceremony Thursday.

After meeting with tribal council members who explained that eagle feathers mark a significant rite of passage, school officials agreed Wednesday to lift the ban.

"We reflected on what they had said and felt that their request came from a time-honored tradition," said district spokeswoman Kathy Bareiss.

Joni Ramos, president of the American Indian community, said in a statement that the district's decision showed respect.

Eighteen American Indian students will be among Westwood's graduates.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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