Christina Fallin, Governor's Daughter, Defends Indian Headdress

Monday, 10 Mar 2014 12:41 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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Christina Fallin, the daughter of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, is standing by the controversial photo of herself in a traditional Native American headdress, saying she meant do disrespect to the culture.

The 26-year-old found herself in a firestorm of outrage after she posted a photo of herself in the red- and white-feathered headdress on Instagram Thursday. She tagged the image "appropriate culturation" and indicated that it was taken at Remington Park, an Oklahoma racetrack and casino owned by the Chickasaw Nation, The Associated Press reported.


Outraged, tribes from across the nation spoke out against the 26-year-old's picture, and she soon replaced it with an apology.

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"Growing up in Oklahoma, we have come into contact with Native American culture institutionally our whole lives — something we are eternally grateful for," Fallin, who also plays in a punk band, said in the statement. "With age, we feel a deeper and deeper connection to the Native American culture that has surrounded us. Though it may not have been our own, this aesthetic has affected us emotionally in a very real and very meaningful way."

"Please forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves with your beautiful things. We do so with the utmost respect. We hold a sincere reverence for and genuine spiritual connection to Native American values."

But even the apology failed to satisfy the angry tribes.

"All that 'Native American culture' you’ve been able to come in contact with? It’s thanks to violence, colonialism, and genocidal policies," a blogger and member of the Cherokee Nation wrote in a post last week. "Forcibly, stripped, prohibited, assimilated — This is not a happy history. This is a history marked by violence and by trauma. So while you may feel 'eternally grateful' for your exposure to our cultures, you’re deliberately ignoring your own history if you think your donning of a headdress is 'innocent.'"

"I can’t totally blame you, Christina. You, as a white person, have been socialized in a society where you’ve been taught imperial, colonial values. That the Americas were a empty, wide place that needed 'discovering' by a lost Italian explorer. That 'manifest destiny' meant white folks had a God-given right to colonize the West. That Native peoples were in need of 'civilizing.'"

According to the AP, Native Americans historically wore headdresses and received feathers for heroic deeds. The pieces are considered sacred items and are still used for some ceremonies.

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