(04/10/2002)
A decision about eliminating Native American rituals from 4-H traditions has been postponed for a year, according to Dr. Larry Cote of the WVU Extension Service. Hundreds of West Virginia 4-H leaders have protested the changes, and were in the process of filing a lawsuit.

The Extension Service made the decision based on a complaint from Roane County, and did not consult the 44,000 4-H members or their 6,000 volunteers.

Cote said summer camp will continue as usual, while the Extension Service conducts a year-long study. He said "We thought we were under threat (from the USDA)," referring to the loss of funding.

He said the WVU Extension Service had failed to receive clarification from USDA this week.

Many Native Americans who looked at the 4-H program felt it was spiritually respectful, but Cote claimed it was a violation of century-old beliefs of various tribes.


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