Christina Fallin in a publicity photo for her band Pink Pony.

Oklahoma Gov's Daughter: A Woman in a Headdress Is 'a Beautiful Thing'

Brian Daffron
3/7/14

Websites and social media over the past couple of days have shown Christina Fallin, 27, wearing a Plains headdress as a publicity photo for her band Pink Pony. While musicians over the past several years have misused Native cultural symbols—Outkast’s performance of "Hey Ya!" at the Grammys comes to mind—there is one difference with this photo. Fallin, a former Oklahoma City lobbyist, happens to be the daughter of current Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin.

After the image appeared, Fallin and Pink Pony issued a release justifying the wearing of the headdress. Dated March 6, 2014, the release said the band is "eternally grateful" for coming into contact with Native culture by way of residing within Oklahoma. Furthermore, the release said that the headdress -- referred to as one of "your beautiful things" -- was being worn to show "sincere reverence for and genuine spiritual connection to Native American values."

Christina Fallin in a publicity photo for her band Pink Pony.

The Plains headdress is an easily recognizable Native American symbol, yet many such as Fallin may not understand its deeply rooted significance. One particular Oklahoma tribe where the eagle feather headdress is worn by men—and women on specific occasions—is the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma.

Summer Morgan, an enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe, will wear a war bonnet belonging to a male relative as part of the scalp and victory dances as done by the Kiowa Black Leggings Women’s Auxiliary. A great-granddaughter of Kiowa Five artist Stephen Mopope, Morgan has the distinction of being an Oklahoma Ambassador of Goodwill.

According to Morgan, in the Kiowa tradition, headdresses are only owned by men. Each feather on the headdress represents a war deed that a man has accomplished, and that a man doesn’t brag about a war deed.

"A way for those deeds to be acknowledged is a woman—be it their mother, their daughter, their sister, a niece—they’re given the right to wear war bonnets so that these men can be honored," said Morgan. "By being given the right, there’s prayers that are said. It’s explained to each of these girls who are given this right what’s expected of them when they wear it, how to treat these war bonnets. What not to do and what they are allowed to do when they are wearing it. You can’t just pick it up and wear it. You can’t go and pick up anybody’s war bonnet. It has to be somebody from your family. There are dances, there’s songs and there’s times of the year where it is acceptable for women to wear war bonnets."

Morgan said that while Fallin may have had "the best of intentions, she may not have gone about it in the best way possible," and that "there are other ways to show and acknowledge that you have good thoughts or feelings toward Native American culture."

The press release sent out on behalf of Christina Fallin and Pink Pony.

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Flower's picture
Flower
Submitted by Flower on
If non-natives truly have the utmost respect for native people, why don't they ever consult with someone and ask first for advice in good faith to know if what they are doing is respectful or disrespectful to native peoples. This lady is within reach of many tribes and leaders she could have consulted with in Oklahoma. The problem is no one ever asks, they just go forward to satisfy their own selfish intentions and later plead ignorance and innocence. That's not good enough anymore. It should not be difficult to practice common courtesy.

Geoffrey Zeamer's picture
Geoffrey Zeamer
Submitted by Geoffrey Zeamer on
some times adaptation of a custom is a acceptance of your culture on top of theirs, not a bad thing. It also allows them to accept the other parts of the native culture, and make connections that help all of us.

tulsaok76's picture
tulsaok76
Submitted by tulsaok76 on
She knows exactly what she is doing. She is intentionally seeking controversy to get attention.This chick grew up in Oklahoma. She has been exposed to Natives her entire life. Her mother, our rat eyed Governor, is from Tecumseh, OK where the school mascot is "the Savages". Don't buy her bull malarchy, because that is exactly what it is, and it is rank. This is not about her ignorance; this is about a narcissistic young lady wanting to get in the national news.

macaro's picture
macaro
Submitted by macaro on
Addrienne Keene is always so thorough and precise in her analysis. http://nativeappropriations.com/2014/03/dear-christina-fallin.html And we should remember that Christina's mom, Mary Fallin, was the governor who signed an extradition order for the Native father of "Baby Veronica." http://www.kjrh.com/news/local-news/gov-mary-fallin-signs-extradition-order-for-dusten-brown-biological-father-of-baby-veronica

scd's picture
scd
Submitted by scd on
This is a response to the press release sent out on behalf of Christina Fallin and Pink Pony. This is just a politically correct way of saying…”We are going to do what we want to do regardless of what you think about it or how it makes you feel. That’s the way it has always been and that’s the way it will always be. If “your beautiful things” can make us some money then we will use them.” Christina Fallin and those involved in this do not have a clue about RESPECT!

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
o m g...talk about slappin somebody up alongside the head with a direct insult....and even better...worn by a blue eyed blonde...and doesn't even really look authentic....just a 'costume' worn to represent a part of SOMEONE ELSE'S culture and beliefs

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
o m g...talk about slappin somebody up alongside the head with a direct insult....and even better...worn by a blue eyed blonde...and doesn't even really look authentic....just a 'costume' worn to represent a part of SOMEONE ELSE'S culture and beliefs

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I love this: "Please forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves in your beautiful things. We do so with the deepest respect. We hold a sincere reverence for and genuine spiritual connection with Native American values." Well no, you don't. What would White America think about an NDN dressing up as a Five Star General, complete with ribbons and medals to play on stage with a rock band? What would White America think of NDNs dressing up like priests or nuns to perform onstage? Their heads would explode! The solution is very simple. We don't insult you by depicting the people you hold as important without respect, you can simply do the same. It's really not too much to ask.

Aseamlessbond's picture
Aseamlessbond
Submitted by Aseamlessbond on
I'm sorry Christina, but what you look like is a very self centered young girl with a mouth full of poor excuses and no respect. A Native woman in a headdress is a very naturally beautiful thing, a painted china doll in a headdress is just that and nothing more, just empty and meaningless. As for "innocently adorn ourselves" There is nothing innocent about publicity for a band. What a shame that you couldn't have innocently adorned yourselves in something beautiful and original!

ungava's picture
ungava
Submitted by ungava on
How can anyone know her motive by looking at a picture? Secondly, a "war bonnet?" I admit, I am very confused. I am so dim that I thought the point with anything spiritual was to aim for peace and to try and express kind words. I am so dim that I even thought that journalism would help to foster kind feelings.

blspncr2014's picture
blspncr2014
Submitted by blspncr2014 on
Just a publicity stunt! If they wanted to honor and give respect! They would ask if it is appropriate. Where have they been? Under a rock! I am sure they have not missed how offended "WE, natives" have been over the disrespect and ignorance portrayed. "I don't believe the reasoning and sincerity." Just my humble opinion. Just A Native Voice!
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