Photo by Christina Owen
'The cape was in no way designed or intended to look like a Native American shawl,' says Fallin.

Christina Fallin, in Her Own Words: 'I'm Tired of the Misinformation'

Wilhelm Murg
5/2/14

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.

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Mojo Hand's picture
Mojo Hand
Submitted by Mojo Hand on
There is the thought that people should judge slowly....but it's hard for marginalized minority groups to do that because we've endured plenty of insensitivity, insults and racist comments, knowingly or unknowingly offensive statements. It's good to see what Ms. Fallin's viewpoint is because she exposes herself as young and certainly uninformed for a person of her age......"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," she says.....and that's the problem with white or majority privilege. it's great that she doesn't have to be accountable for her lack of clear communication, but if you're on the other side, it's not so great to endure ignorance or offensiveness, whether it was unknowingly or knowingly......at least she states that she is sorry for those who were offended rather than the politician's apology of "if anyone was offended". The other problem here is that she is an artist, and art is also about communication.....she was not communicating clearly what her intentions were. You can't hide behind the artistic ideals and obfuscate issues under the guise of art. Assuming that she really meant no ill will, then she has some major blindspots in not seeing the optics of what her actions were and how that would be received by those who took offense.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Although I know it was done in the spirit of fairness, I wish I could have read the unedited version of this exchange. I'm sure a cleaner grasp of what this young lady is really like could be gleaned from that. I did get a good laugh out of this: "A lot of us in this community have been stimulated because of Steven," and this " -- the several hundreds of people who said that should have been blowing up the "interwebs . . . " From the interview, I've surmised that: a: she's not sincerely sorry, and b: she meant no respect to Native Americans.

FrancesMFDanger's picture
FrancesMFDanger
Submitted by FrancesMFDanger on
This is going to be long but I do hope that someone will listen since Pink Pony banned me from comment on their page during the initial photo debacle and this is my first chance in awhile to address the band directly. While I respect the fact that Christina Fallin would give time to address these issues, especially with Native media, I do wish it weren't an exercise in navel gazing. Credit for trying but it's just the same old, same old. Christina, THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. I know that may come as a shock to you but, at least for me, it is the absolute truth. You deleted my comments off the Pink Pony page when the issue initially happened, banned me from commenting and *blocked* me from even seeing your personal page (which, wow, that's an overreaction since I was commenting on your behavior, not you personally). And I wasn't the only one. I have pages and pages of screenshots from that first night showing the blowback Pink Pony received from Natives and their allies. You and Steven removed all but those that spoke about how pretty you were. Then the fauxpology was released and despite asserting that it was dialogue that you all wanted you then deleted and silenced more people, eventually removing the entire thread. It is silly for you both to think that Samantha Crain, after watching Natives actively be silenced by you for months, would need to reach out for clarification about your regalia post. You need to be clear as to what you are trying to convey. And people did ask about it and the only response from Pink Pony (and yes I can prove this as well) was a single word on the thread: "baa". You all had the opportunity to clear this up publicly prior to the show but didn't, instead mocking people by not even dignifying them with a human response, reducing them to animals. But please, go on about how you respect others points of view that are not your own and how Steven Battles wanted to stimulate minds. (Steven, mind you, the week after the headdress debacle, used his now cancelled platform on his radio show on The Spy to call anyone who disagreed with you all bastards, which is so respectful and stimulating to the mind) I was not at the NMF performance. For the first time since the inception of NMF I chose not to attend, specifically because Pink Pony was booked. I do not know if you intended to mock a war dance. I do not know if you intended that "cape" to be a shawl. What I do know is that if your dance could in any way be construed as Native that you would have known that would be offensive, since you and Steven have screamed from the rooftops just how connected to Native culture you are and how much you all love our beautiful things. I also know that despite what you all say about wanting to make a point about sensationalism and yellow journalism you could have easily done so with a "sheep" t shirt. You chose a shawl-like garment knowing full well how it would be perceived. Then you have the gall to call protesters liars. I happen to know for a fact that Steven lied in the NMF response press release when he said he wanted to wear a law school graduation gown 'regalia' as commentary because I have the screenshots of both Facebook and Twitter where he is asking for purple robes and crowns prior to the performance and directs others away from the performance. The message about regalia was posted to bait Natives for a reaction. There's no way you all can say differently due to Steven's social media posts before the show so stop trying to rewrite history. You both stood on a stage where Natives were flipped off, bleated at and called sheep, essentially reducing them to animals. You were ok with that, even encouraged it, and, it appears, still are just fine with it. You all condoned taunting based on ethnicity. There is no misunderstanding that. You may not want to accept or acknowledge it or own your behavior but YOU , CHRISTINA FALLIN AND STEVEN BATTLES, ARE RACIST. That is the truth, no sensationalism about it. We are not animals, Christina and Steven. I know it makes it easier to dismiss us when you believe we are. But everything that has happened in response to the photo and NMF is a direct result of decisions you all made and actions you all performed. There are deserved consequences for those actions and the sooner you accept that the closer you'll be to actually resembling the narrative you so desperately want people to believe. As to the appropriation piece I've framed my own thoughts about why it is important to me and why I spoke out, framed by the Wayne Coyne dog in a headdress issue. I'm not saying I am the end all, be all for Native people in speaking on the topic but if you want some education as to the cost of appropriation on the Native psyche and why it's not just people choosing to be offended from an individual point of view here it is: https://www.facebook.com/notes/frances-danger/wayne-coyne-of-the-flaming-lips-put-a-dog-in-a-war-bonnet-heres-why-that-matters/10151994458830940 Thanks for taking the time to acknowledge that there are issues and attempting to clarify what happened. While I cannot accept your version of events I do have respect that you took the time to try, which is not something that has been given a sincere attempt previously. I do hope you'll continue this trend and seek to stimulate your own minds first before trying to do that to others.

indianmedicine's picture
indianmedicine
Submitted by indianmedicine on
Ms. Fallin attempts to Explain Away, or Mitigate her "Stage Conduct" and private Photo-shoot by way of claiming ignorance to NAI Custom and Traditions in differences to REGALIA and Day to Day Dress & Stage Costume..................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................... The "Bands" response to allegations of "Disrespect" towards NAI Issues surfaces and the "Double Standards" applied to "Cher's Stage Dress'. ...................................................................................................................... There is point made on the "disparity" in treatment being applied to "Pink Pony" and "Cher" in comparing the two "Entertainers" in relation to NAI Regalia and Dress...................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................... I am sure there is also a difference in "Stage Personality" and daily personality with performers............................................................................................ ....................................................................................................................... In reference to past comment by Ms. Fallin, there a noted difference between "flippant" response; and sincerity - and it is very noticeable in this situation. ....................................................................................................................... There is in fairness, a question of "Directed Hyper-Sensitivity" of NAI Issues compared to "Sensitivity Standard" verses brutal disrespect, and we will suggest the Reader make that personal finding or not............................ ....................................................................................................................... I also see a lack of "maturity" and reasonable expectation on both sides. ....................................................................................................................... As to the "Poncho" Stage Dress with writing, it actually looks like a "DoJo Gi" uniform top, with a Beginner Student White belt improperly tied; of Far East Style Martial Arts - of course being first impression................................ ....................................................................................................................... This "Case" is NOT terribly sophisticated in Philosophy, it is really "The Golden Rule" found in all Ancient Cultures - "Do Onto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You"..................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................... I am sure "Pink Pony" will not have to look that one up........................... ......................................................................................................................

Snupher's picture
Snupher
Submitted by Snupher on
I have a couple questions. With an 80 year old man getting banned and booted from an organization for something that, when he was a kid, was common, what does the Norman Music Festival think they should do? Maybe... ban her and her talentless boyfriend? When is Christina Fallin going to come out and say it straight, "I am very sorry that I offended the native people of my country and of the state for which my personal money role is the governor"? Lastly, why is Wayne Coyne not being interviewed for laughing as if he should be wearing a driving cap with 2 s lightning bolts on the side? Needless to say, I wasn't a fan of either Fallin before. Mary Fallin earned a little respect for realizing her daughter is a bigot. However, Christina and Wayne Coyne have even less of my respect than they did before.

choctawgirl's picture
choctawgirl
Submitted by choctawgirl on
I agree with a lot of people on here. No one was "stimulated" by your boyfriend and since I have real warriors in my family that have actually fought for freedom vs someone who is a governor's daughter ( a mooch and a criminal's daughter in other words) I find the headdress thing especially offensive. She is way too old and naive but that is white privilege for you, never having to take accountability for racist remarks or mistakes. No accountability in life. You can't say you are a person of the world just incorporating a headdress for a fashion statement and apply it to yourself. You don't even understand what a headdress means. You don't understand Natives so do us a favor and stop rubbing salt in people's wounds. She needs to educate herself better, She is a hypocrite for calling anyone a sheep. She should have given those protesters the right to speak their minds if she really cared about offending them then she should of brought them up on stage and let them speak in the microphone if you feel anyone isn't a threat to your career. That's all this is about is your stupid career. Some things are more important but she is too immature to realize that. Her boyfriend is lame and extremely immature as well.

choctawgirl's picture
choctawgirl
Submitted by choctawgirl on
Also her boyfriend was flipping people off or something he is not some deep philosopher because he took a class in college. A lot of whites are always trying to cling to a label. They are confidence trendies because they lack something inside and don't feel secure so they have to seek out things that they think will make them seem deep and cool-when in reality it makes you look foolish and ignorant.

choctawgirl's picture
choctawgirl
Submitted by choctawgirl on
It means nothing when you put that head dress on, because it means nothing to YOU. It has no meaning for white people, which is why it is offensive. You have no warriors in your family and you obviously aren't trying to raise awareness on any important issues facing Natives.

choctawgirl's picture
choctawgirl
Submitted by choctawgirl on
Whites try to water down cultures by doing things like this because they don't have any.

choctawgirl's picture
choctawgirl
Submitted by choctawgirl on
Even though it is negative attention she will continue to do it because that's the type of person that she is. She loves getting any type of attention. "Being offended is tiring" Yeah try being Native, it's real tiring sweet heart. You will never know because you don't have a soul and feel nothing for anyone besides yourself.

choctawgirl's picture
choctawgirl
Submitted by choctawgirl on
I'm a Native from Oklahoma and I find it extremely ignorant for her not to know anything about Natives. The governor should step down.

Terry James's picture
Terry James
Submitted by Terry James on
Here is what Cher's current tour costume looks like. <a href="http://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/36f92103bca8c375335e8b1aeef84aef18f2ad52/c=0-0-1972-1484&r=x513&c=680x510/local/-/media/Indianapolis/Indianapolis/2014/04/11//1397271858006-Cher04112014-15.jpg">picture</a>.

choctawgirl's picture
choctawgirl
Submitted by choctawgirl on
LOL she also says Oklahoma is not an "international state" I grew up on Lawton/ Ft Sill Military base. There are tons of people from all over the world that live in Oklahoma that come from multi-racial backgrounds. Wouldn't all of the Native tribes that are in Oklahoma be international? That would be the definition of International. They are all distinct cultural groups and she is trying to say that they don't have a variety of cultures. She has no clue about her own state. Last time I checked Oklahoma History is a requirement to graduate ;) But obviously thinking is not. Her mother didn't teach her anything. Oklahoma is in a terrible state. The tribes should just take over OK.

Terry James's picture
Terry James
Submitted by Terry James on
Google up any photo of Cher from her current tour and you can see her "Vegas style headdress" is remarkably dissimilar from anything Native American and ceremonial. I believe she dropped any use of that style about the time Ms. Fallin was born, for obvious reasons of respect.

BearClaw's picture
BearClaw
Submitted by BearClaw on
One can go to a costume shop and rent or buy an Indian costume, including one with a full head dress. Shouldn't that be just as offensive? The lesson here is No one is responsible for anyone else's feelings. If, as the interviewer says, people feel hurt, then the 'hurt' is on those people. No one else is in control of those feelings. Natives who don't wallow in the victim roles are better suited to succeed at life.

James Edward Smith
James Edward Smith
Submitted by James Edward Smith on
I'm so tired of you guys crying about white privilege and cultural appropriation. If you're so concerned about cultural appropriation... take off the white man's clothes and wear your own stuff. This comment I copy and pasted from newsok is a great rebuttal to all of your faux outrage. I am Creek and you Aholes need to get a life.

wdim's picture
wdim
Submitted by wdim on
Google Images has photo after photo of sexy girls wearing Native american headresses. So where is the protest over all these other models wearing Native American clothing? The photo of Ms Fallin in the headress is tasteful compared to many of these other images. The shaw in no way resembles a Native American shaw. And people are a bunch of sheep to be making a big deal about this. I mean really she did nothing offensive towards the Native American people. If you think she did then you need to set some priorities about whats important in this world. Now just like in South Park the rabble rabble rabble needs to go away and people need to realize the idiots they are being for making a mountain out of a mole hill. If the headress is so spiritual and important then why do they make recreations for the white man to have in his office for show? This is all politics. If Ms Fallin wasn't the daughter of our Governor and posted that pic nobody would of noticed or cared. (I know cause I've seen other girls have similiar pics on their facebook page). If they were just another punk band doing stupid stuff nobody would of cared. Its all politics.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
To Bearclaw: You are WRONG (but I love your pastry). If I call your child a spoiled, little bastard would you believe that your child's reaction and your reaction aren't warranted and that YOU personally are responsible for how you handle this? Racism is detrimental to everyone: Racism can feel life-threatening. Epidemiology of PTSD in Minorities PTSD is a severe and chronic condition that may occur in response to any traumatic event. The National Survey of American Life (NSAL) found that African Americans show a prevalence rate of 9.1% for PTSD versus 6.8% in non-Hispanic Whites, indicating a notable mental health disparity (Himle et al., 2009). Incresed rates of PTSD have been found in other groups as well, including Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islander Americans. and Southeast Asian refugees (Pole et al., 2008). Furthermore, PTSD may be more disabling for minorities; for example, African Americans with PTSD experience significantly more impairment at work and carrying out everyday activities (Himle, et al. 2009). _______________________________________________________ TO FRANCES MFDANGER: Thanks for the long explanation. I knew Fallin wasn't sincere about her apology and I knew her boyfriend must be a real zero. Stimulating everyone he meets, indeed! ___________________________________________________________ TO WDIM: Native Americans can't stop every, idiot and bimbo in the U.S. from renting these stupid costumes (they're obviously NOT made by Native Americans). And who the fuck are you to tell us what we think is important and what WE need to do about establishing some respect for our people? If White people weren't so goddamned ENTITLED all the time maybe every minority in the country wouldn't think you're such assholes.

choctawgirl's picture
choctawgirl
Submitted by choctawgirl on
Exactly Michael. You seem to be well informed. We can't stop every ignorant person from doing pathetic low things because their parents refuse to educate them correctly. Why don't whites teach their children more about Natives? These things wouldn't happen if parents would educate their kids instead of expecting society to teach them anything. Whites don't want to admit any truths and want to continue to lie, cheat, steal and ignore us. James it is not our problem you are brainwashed. That is a very poor insult and has nothing to do with anything. You don't know every single person's situation on the planet and no one has to explain to you why people wear the clothing that they do. To WDIM This idiot is putting it out there just to get attention for herself. Those people that you are talking about on facebook and ads are just as stupid but they aren't being put out in the limelight and seeking attention at a mass scale which is why this got so much attention.

choctawgirl's picture
choctawgirl
Submitted by choctawgirl on
"Why don't you take off the white man's clothes" Natives have always worn tunics and things you would consider "white man's clothes" that they made themselves. You don't understand Native clothing obviously. Natives wore buckskin and hides that were readily available to them and a lot of Natives don't wear white man's clothes all the time. That's a very basic shot in the dark question that you are just throwing out because you have nothing informative or intelligent to say.
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