A group of Native American parents protested outside of the Oklahoma State Capitol building on Monday to draw attention to Governor Mary Fallin’s recent actions toward the Native community. The group known as Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry presented more than 8,000 signatures in their effort to spur Fallin to “recognize the racism [against Natives] in Oklahoma and do something about it.”
According to EONM, the actions that sparked their concerns included: removing Baby Veronica from her birth parents (Fallin signed an extradition order against baby Veronica’s biological father Dusten Brown), failing to call attention to the killing of a Native teenager in Custer County, and her daughter Christina Fallin’s offensive behavior, wearing Native headdress, and performing a fake war dance during her band’s performance in April.
“Mary Fallin and her staff are more worried about the way they are perceived by the dominant society of our world at large,” said EONM member and Cherokee Muskogee Creek writer Jennie Stockle in a press release. “By her actions, and those of Christina Fallin, I think that Mary Fallin and her family are clearly apathetic about Native Americans.”
Their petition, according to a news release, calls for the “return to a less extreme environment politically and to help repair the lines of communication and the relationship between the Oklahoma government and its Indigenous people.” The group says that their goal is to build a better future for of Oklahoma and “that begins with holding Fallin accountable for the damage that she has allowed and perpetrated.”
EONM also said that they “feel attacked by the Oklahoma state government under Fallin's administration for being Native American.”
“Fallin and other legislators ignore our rights as citizens of important governments in the borders of this state by circumventing those rights,” Stockle said.
On Monday, Stockle walked into the Governor’s office to deliver the petition with 8,000 signatures and watched as members of Fallin’s staff stamped it, “received.” But despite these actions, she said that the group felt ignored.
“[They] were not interested in hearing our concerns because they did not come out to talk to us,” Stockle told ICTMN in a phone conversation. EONM also requested a meeting with Fallin on May 9, but she was unable to schedule a meeting for several months, according to a press release.
Fallin office did, however, release a statement to FOX 25 about the protest.
“A spokesman for the governor says the tribal governments are important partners to state government and that Fallin ‘values the good relationships her administration has cultivated with them.’”
Stockle told ICTMN that EONM members plan to hold a more public protest; viewing Fallin’s response as “A total brush off.”
Most recently the group led a protest in Beaverton, Oregon, calling on Nike to stop producing and selling merchandise that features the cartoonish image of the Cleveland Indians’s mascot, Chief Wahoo; and they have also joined in on the “Redskins” name change debate.
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“There has been a breakdown in the relationship between the Oklahoma government and Indigenous nations since Fallin took office. We’ve seen the end of the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission and as a result, we now have local and state government officials trying to attack and ignore the sovereign rights of our native nations,” said Johnnie Jae, who is also a member of EONM.
“What Fallin needs to remember is that the Native nations of our state contribute billions to our state’s economy and provide close to 100,000 jobs,” Jae said. “We are not as powerless or invisible as she believes we are.”