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ICT interview with Christina Fallin about cultural appropriation

Filed Under: National | Politics
More on: christina fallin, oklahoma, racism, stereotypes

Christina Fallin appeared in a headdress for a photo that was posted, then later removed, from Instagram. She's drawing additional fire for recent performance in Oklahoma.

In an interview with Indian Country Today, Christina Fallin, the daughter of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), reveals she didn't know the meaning of "cultural appropriation" when she donned a fake headdress and put the picture on Instagram:
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?

Get the Story:
Christina Fallin, in Her Own Words: 'I'm Tired of the Misinformation' (Indian Country Today 5/2)

Also Today:
The most interesting governor’s daughter in the country (The Washington Post 5/4)

Related Stories:
Gawker: Drummer was fired for criticizing headdress photo shoot (5/2)
Oklahoma governor criticizes daughter over fake Indian dance (4/29)
Joy Harjo: Another lame defense of cultural misappropriation (03/18)
Adrienne Keene: A non-apology for wearing 'Indian' headdress (3/10)

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