Christina Fallin, in Her Own Words: 'I'm Tired of the Misinformation'
Christina Fallin, singer for the band Pink Pony and daughter of Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, has drawn a lot of criticism from the Native American community for what has seemed to be a trend of mocking their culture. The outrage was kick-started by a photo of Fallin wearing a feather headdress; just as that controversy seemed to have died down, she caused more with a performance at the Norman (Oklahoma) Music Festival that Native protesters felt was baiting them.
Fallin feels she's been completely misunderstood, particularly when it comes to the Norman Music Festival performance, and that Native media has jumped to conclusions and practiced sensationalist "yellow journalism." Pink Pony released a statement that said as much on Sunday; nonetheless, Governor Fallin publicly condemned her daughter's performance on Monday. After expressing concerns that her words might be misinterpreted, she consented to an interview with Wilhelm Murg, Osage/Cherokee, who is a veteran journalist on the Oklahoma music scene. This interview was conducted via instant messenger, and has been edited only for grammar and clarity.
What do you think? Has Christina Fallin been treated unfairly by the Native media? Read what she has to say and let us know.
Let's start at the beginning, with the headdress photo shoot. You said you did not know it was offensive to Native Americans, yet protests have been going on throughout the nation about Indian mascots for two decades, and you live in a state with one of the highest proportions of Native American citizens. Your critics say that you must have known that it was offensive. How do you respond to that?
The facts are that I saw the headdress while I was helping out on someone else's photo shoot at a Native American-owned racetrack. It was a reproduction just sitting there in a private suite that we were working from during the shoot. I think Native American culture is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, so I was naturally drawn to it. I put it on, not knowing that I would forever be changed by that moment, and my friend took a picture with her iPhone. We all marveled at the beauty of the picture and I decided to share that with my followers on my personal Instagram page, not my band page. There were several people in the room and everyone thought it was a beautiful picture and headdress. No one warned me or anyone of the potential repercussions. As it was a beautiful picture, it rapidly got a lot of "likes", but it also got a lot of #culturalappropriation tags -- I didn't even know what that meant and had to look it up. I don't live my life worrying about things like cultural appropriation -- that's why I didn't know. I travel around the world, I buy things from different countries and cultures and they are incorporated into my day-to-day wear. No one has ever told me that that is wrong. I don't believe multi-culturalism should be feared because I am a person of this earth, not the culture I was raised in. I'm always looking for ways to expose other cultures to Oklahoma because it's important since we're not a hugely international state. So after my boyfriend and I learned about cultural appropriation, he put it on our Pink Pony facebook page with the caption "appropriate culturation" as part of a dialogue. A dialogue about: What is appropriate? What is culture? What is culturation? We just made that word up, but what is it? My boyfriend (Steven Battles of Pink Pony) gives people stimulating pieces of imagery and words because he's an artist and philosopher and he lets them create their own thoughts. That's what he was doing. But people who are looking to be offended will always be offended. And people looking to stimulate their mind, were stimulated. A lot of us in this community have been stimulated because of Steven.
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page