Christina Fallin, the daughter of the Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, has been accused of mocking Native American culture by wearing a shawl with the word “sheep” painted on it and doing a mock Indian dance during a live performance at the Norman Music Festival Saturday. In a statement on the facebook page of her band, Pink Pony, the band claims that the garment Fallin wore was a modern woman’s cape, not a Native American shawl and that “sheep” referred to people who believe what is written about her in the press instead of the truth.
Fallin’s mother, the Governor, seemed to make some kind of apology earlier this week when she stated “…my daughter acted in a way that I believe was inappropriate… I don't approve of her behavior on that night or that of her band.” Governor Fallin went on to note her personal respect for Native people and her work with the tribes of Oklahoma, apparently distancing herself from her daughter.
Gene Burtman, Chair of the Norman Music Festival, apologized in a statement on their website, saying in part that the “Festival does not support the actions of Pink Pony…we oppose their use and depiction of American Indian artifacts and symbols.”
The Chickasaw-owned Riverwind Casino, which was a sponsor of the festival, released a statement that it sponsored the festival, not individual bands and went on to say “…this particular incident should not be dignified nor encouraged by further commentary….”
The one supporter Fallin does have is Oklahoma City resident Wayne Coyne, the leader of pop group The Flaming Lips. Rumors that Coyne fired the band’s drummer, Kliph Scurlock, due to Scurlock’s criticism of Fallin posting a picture of herself wearing a faux-native American headdress in March were confirmed. “I was fired for telling Christina to go fuck herself after her lame-ass 'apology' when people got upset at her stupid headdress photo," Scurlock wrote in a statement to ICTMN. "That happened in mid-March. I wasn't anywhere around during the performance [at Norman Music Festival] the other night."
Coyne went on to post pictures of his friends and his dog wearing a faux-Native American headdress in apparent solidarity with Fallin. His actions are causing a lot of debate on social media in Oklahoma, where Coyne is a major figure in a music scene heavily populated by people with Native American heritage and connections.
One such person in that debate is Drew McKenna, a local Native American radio personality in Tulsa, “Christina needs to get an anthropology degree,” McKenna said.
“Even someone like myself, who has Native American blood, I don’t necessarily look at a headdress and think ‘that’s a sacred object to me,’ but I respect that there are some people who feel that way,” McKenna said. “When we look back at our parents’, and our grandparents’, and our great grandparents’ generations that were so affected by the Trail of Tears, the boarding schools, and the indentured servitude of share cropping, and the 40 acres and a mule that no one ever got -- once you learn about those things you can understand why it’s so wrong that someone so flippantly allowed another human being to be made fun of so blatantly like that in social media.”