Mary Fallin, Oklahoma's Republican governor, has issued a profuse apology after her daughter allegedly mocked Native American protestors and performed a "war dance" while on stage at the Norman Music Festival.
Christina Fallin, 27, first raised the protestors' ire in March when she released a promotional photo for her band, Pink Pony, of herself wearing a Plains warbonnet. She then issued the jack-offiest "apology" ever: "Forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves in your beautiful things."
Joy Harjo unpacked the incident over at XOJane:
First, she assumes that everything is available to her for use in her art. It's the cultural assumption of a settler mentality that pervades American culture. It's behind the Redskin mascot issue. When you're a people who have been disappeared from the culture into a distant past, and are frozen in imagination in chase by the U.S. Cavalry, then you aren't real.
When your people are the survivors of a holocaust of unimaginable dimensions, your presence is held at a great distance, a distance determined by the weight of guilt. Imagine an Africa with no Africans! Indigenous peoples in this country are now one-half of one percent of the population. We are essentially disappeared as real people in the American imagination and for the most part exist there as stereotypes.
Unfortunately, the message doesn't seem to have gotten through.
When protestors—still unhappy with Fallin's refusal to fully apologize—showed up at Pink Pony's Norman Music Festival concert carrying signs that read "I am not a costume," Fallin reportedly responded with predictable sensitivity and maturity. Via RawStory:
According to Indian Country Today Media Network, Fallin mocked them from the stage by wearing "a Native American-style fringed shawl with the word 'Sheep' on the back and performed a fake war dance while her boyfriend Steven Battles ridiculed the protesters and flipped them off from the stage."
"Apathy towards the clear feelings of other people is cruelty," Cherokee EONM member and blogger Jennie Stockley reportedly wrote on the Pink Pony Facebook page. "Her apathy based to Native culture is racist. No opaqueness in this issue. It is clear. We will not stand silent while she degrades honored and sacred symbols."
This news report includes some not-particularly-illuminating video of the performance, if you want to draw your own conclusions.
But hey, yo, Christina Fallins of the world, do you know what's a really really really easy thing to do? Apologize unconditionally and then NOT DO THIS STUFF ANYMORE. Why do you need this so desperately? Why do you cling to some fake warbonnet you bought on Etsy like a fucking barnacle when you know it's causing people immense pain, and you could fix it instantly by wearing literally anything else? I know you have other clothes. I've seen them on your Facebook page. Why don't you wear this jizz-spackled goth parka? Or this cape made out of soda-can tabs? Or this boot? If you really want to not get yelled at anymore (and you seem to be frustrated with it, judging by the whiny nonpology you posted yesterday), there's a 100% foolproof, one-step solution: JUST STICK TO WEARING CLOTHES THAT DON'T TREAT ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS LIKE EXTINCT MAGICAL BEASTS.
Don't like the backlash? That's on you. Try harder.
I think a lot of people don't understand that when we talk about these issues—blackface, rape jokes, the appropriation of marginalized cultures, and so on—we are having an ethical conversation, not a legal one. There is no thought police. No one's coming to your house and carting you off to Insensitivity Prison. But you, as a person living on this planet, get to make a choice whether you want to hurt people or help people. Whether you want to listen or shut people out. I can't imagine why you'd choose "defensive shithead" over "nice lady capable of empathy," but okey dokey.
According to the band's aforementioned nonpology, they didn't even mean anything by it, GAHD.
Nothing about our performance was connected in any way to Native American culture. We are sincerely sorry to anyone who was offended by the photograph that started this controversy.
...This type of sensationalized journalism is the thing Christina's cape was designed to point out. If journalists focused on obtaining the truth and people focused on learning the truth, they would find something to be angry about. Please focus your attention toward ending Native American mascots and extreme poverty in Native American communities.
Even if the best case scenario is 100% true—if it really was a "misunderstanding," if the Native American protestors misidentified Fallin's shawl as "Native American-style" (after all, what would they know about it?), if Fallin wasn't really doing a "war dance" and her boyfriend was just flipping off a guy behind the protestors—the band's snotty, condescending defensiveness reveals a fundamental refusal to take their critics seriously. For all their pious pontificating about helping "Native American communities," they're certainly not treating the one right in front of them with much respect.
For her part, Governor Fallin seems to think that her daughter is full of shit:
"On Saturday night, while performing at the Norman Music Festival, my daughter acted in a way that I believe was inappropriate," the governor noted. "While she will always be my daughter and I love her very much, I don't approve of her behavior on that night or that of her band. I have communicated that to Christina."