Dear Christina Fallin

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.223 Comments

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Dear Christina Fallin,

Last night, someone tagged me in the comments of your post on Instagram, a picture of you wearing dark red lipstick and a coordinating warbonnet. Initially, I just rolled my eyes and closed the window, because since I’ve somehow become an “expert” on white girls in headdresses, I get sent pictures like yours pretty much every. single. day. Don’t believe me? Just glance at the “#indianheaddress” tag. But then I got an email, then another, and another, and another, and then realized that this one was different–because you, Christina, are daughter of Oklahoma’s Governor.

I’ve written a lot of these letters. I’ve written them to Drew Barrymore, to Paul Frank, to my local YMCA, to generic party-goers, and more. I’ve also written a whole post about why you can’t wear a hipster headdress. I’d encourage you to read these posts.

But you see Christina, while a lot of those folks I wrote those letters to came at this from a place of ignorance (which doesn’t excuse it by any means), you knew that putting on that headdress would be controversial. You titled your photo “Appropriate Culturation” which means you are aware of the concept of cultural appropriation, and knew that Native peoples would be hurt by your choice, and you did it anyway.

Then you released your “apology,” an “apology” which never actually apologizes, and instead says this:

Growing up in Oklahoma, we have come into contact with Native American culture institutionally our whole lives — something we are eternally grateful for. 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.

And then this line, which is the kicker:

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.

I can’t get over that line. I read it again and again, and can’t believe that you actually think that way of thinking is normal, excusable, and ok.  

Cause here’s the thing. There is nothing about this that is “innocent” or “respectful.”

Let me tell you a story. I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Though I’ve never lived in Oklahoma, I have a lot of family there, and claim it as one of my “homes,” because that’s where my community is based. But here’s the thing: my tribe is not there by chance or by choice, my tribe, and the vast majority of the other Natives peoples in Oklahoma, are there by force and by trauma. In 1830, the US government and Andrew Jackson passed something called the “Indian Removal Act,” which resulted in the removal of thousands and thousands of Native peoples from their homelands in the southeast. You know where those Native peoples were forced to march? Oklahoma. Though it was referred to as “Indian Territory” then. So all that “Native American culture” you’ve been able to come in contact with? It’s thanks to violence, colonialism, and genocidal policies. It’s not an innocent cultural exchange.

Once we got to Oklahoma, we were promised that the land would be ours forever. That we’d be left alone. That there wouldn’t be anymore marching. We signed treaties to that effect. But then came the Dawes Act, and the Land Grab of 1889, and suddenly the land wasn’t ours anymore.

After the removal off of our homelands, after the loss of our land in Indian Territory, then came the laws to remove our culture. Boarding schools, acts and laws to prohibit us from practicing our traditional spirituality, and more. Little Native children were forcibly removed from their homes, separated from their families, and forcibly assimilated. Our cultural markers, like your beloved headdress, were stripped from us, prohibited by law.

Notice the words I keep using here? 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.” Let’s fast forward to 2014. Now “tribal trends” are totally “in.” You can walk into any store in the mall and see “Native” imagery everywhere. As a Native person, when I look at them, I can’t help but remember the not-so-distant past when my people weren’t allowed, by law, to wear these things. It’s such a constant reminder of the colonial power structures still in place. Back in the day, white people had the power to take away our culture, and now they have the power to wear it however they see fit. These are our images, our cultural symbols, yet we are completely powerless to have control over them. It may seem extreme, but the best way I can say it is that your wearing of the headdress is an act of violence that continues the pain of colonization. “Please forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves with your beautiful things.” The privilege and violence of that statement astounds me. “Please forgive us if we innocently use your beautiful land,” “Please forgive us if we innocently educate your beautiful children,” “Please forgive us if we innocently sexualize your beautiful women.” These actions are not benign.

My tribe doesn’t wear headdresses (do you even realize that there are hundreds and hundreds of tribes? That there isn’t one “Native American culture” or one set of “Native American values”?), but I am continuing to learn and appreciate the history and meaning behind them. Not long ago I listened to my friend Jessica give a presentation. She put up an image of Sitting Bull in a warbonnet, and told the audience that each of the individual eagle feathers in that headdress was a gift from a community member, given to Sitting Bull as symbolic of their trust and respect in him as a leader. So when he wore that headdress, he was wearing the hopes, fears, and respect of his community. He had to earn that respect, and the community entrusted him with the responsibility of wearing those feathers. He didn’t just pick it up at a costume shop because it looked “cool.”

I’m trying to think of examples of things I respect, and how I show that respect. I’m actually struggling to think of a time when I respected something, and decided the best way to show that respect was by taking it. I respect the Dalai Lama, but I wouldn’t put on Tibetan monk robes to show that respect. I respect the Zapatistas, but I’m not going to don a mask and wrap myself in an EZLN flag. You know how I show respect? I listen. I listen hard, I listen deeply, and I listen constantly. I listen to stories, I listen to histories, I listen to learn, and I listen to hear when I’ve misstepped. I listen so I can become a more complete human being. It is clear from your response that maybe you heard, but you didn’t listen. If you would have listened to our voices as Native community members, you would have seen that the way to show respect to your Native friends and neighbors was not to put on a headdress and defend your choice, but to take it off and apologize.

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.” That resources, people, and things are yours for the taking. You’re not used to being told “no.” As a Native person, I’ve learned to hear “no,” but I think about it in a different way. I know, as a Native woman, that there are certain roles for me in the community. I know that there are certain times and places for knowledge, that there are certain stories I can’t know, places I can’t be, things I can’t see. But I don’t see that as limiting or unfair–I respect and understand the place that these practices come from.

I’ve been sent your picture probably 50 times since you posted it, and my Native friends and colleagues are all over the internet upset by it. But the thing that keeps bothering me is that we’re expected, as community members, to have perfectly reasoned, calm, point-by-point rebuttals to your image and words. The burden of proof is on us, not you. Why can’t we, as the cultures you’re “respecting” simply say “no”? Why do we have to defend and fight and write 1400 words about why, and then listen while others mock our pain and hurt as being “overly sensitive”? Why can’t you show us respect by just listening to us when we say, “Hey Christina, that headdress? It’s not for you to wear.”

I’m learning that with these letters, I need to offer you an action plan, an alternative, a path to making it right. So here’s what I ask. Remove the image from Facebook. Release an actual apology, something that says you’re sorry you were hurtful, not that you’re sorry others were hurt. Then talk to your mom, Governor Fallin. Encourage her to put forward a bill to improve Native American history and curriculum in schools, modeled after Montana’s Indian Education for All. tell her that consolidating the OK Historical society is probably not the best idea, and talk to her about the importance of allowing Native peoples to represent themselves and importance of lawmakers to listen. It’s clear that Oklahoma likes to invoke and embrace their Native roots, but it’s also clear that there needs to be a true discussion about the messages being sent. As her daughter, your mistake with the headdress is gaining more attention than it probably would have otherwise, but it also means that you have much more power to make change than the average citizen. Use that power for good.

So, Christina, I’m done with being angry. I just would like you to truly show me respect by listening to my words.

Wado (Thanks),


Here is the “apology” in full:

Christina Fallin letter


Comment moderation note: Any comment along the lines of “get over it” or telling me we have “bigger things to worry about” or asking “why” wearing a headdress is wrong will be removed. The first two don’t add anything to the conversation and I’ve addressed them over and over. The last can be solved by searching through the site or reading any of the open letters linked at the beginning. 


  • Johnnie Jae

    They deleted the apology from the page.

    • Adrienne_K


      • Rob Schmidt

        I’m surprised she left the “apology” up for six or whatever hours. And engaged with her critics, however poorly. Now that the faux-pology is gone, she’s probably working on an actual apology.

    • ThatKelly TaylorGuy

      Oklahomans rewriting history? Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? 😉

      • Johnnie Jae

        haha yeah not surprising. 😛

  • Haylee Roulain

    countdown to apology from moms handlers in 3..2..1
    I wish I had saved the condescending replies. they were unbelievable. luckily some are still on buzzfeed.

  • In the first paragraph, did you mean “ daughter of Oklahoma’s governor”?

    Great article by the way.

    • Adrienne_K

      oh grammar…with all your rules…haha, thanks. I’ll fix it.

  • 10100111001

    This is great AK.

  • alexjon

    Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. Like, deep sigh.

    The numunu had to deal with Gov. Fallin over a screwjob tobacco compact that was heavily against us — as did the Osage Nation. In light of all the fuss and sort of perilous financial position we were put in there was a summit with tribal leaders — yours included — where she finally (FINALLY!) sat down and looked our leaders in the eyes and discussed what’s going on. It was pretty good and Gov. Fallin was a very respectful partner in that, but one of the requests made was that she work to help protect our cultures.

    When her daughter is going around pantomiming and appropriating, though, we need to ask the Governor to respectfully, carefully, explain to her daughter that, although beautiful, she’s wearing something to be respected and she should calmly change her ways to not wear it and show it the respect it commands. Her daughter is mature and has agency over her own life but unfortunately she’s also the daughter of the head of a government with a relationship with other governments. Careful and diplomatic bearing is necessary.

  • Geandily

    I love how every time somebody is talking about why they love Native culture they mention the “spirituality”.
    As everybody knows, Indians are magic; it’s why we ALL have dreamcatchers!

    • Dacia Talbot

      I agree. I hate the entire concept of dreamcatchers, if only because EVERY house where I grew up has one. Just like all of the people in the South (where I was born) is ‘part Cherokee.’ -_- It gets old.

      • Alyssa Shade

        Or had Great Grandmothers who were “Cherokee Princesses”

        • moriah

          I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “my mom’s grandmother was Pocahontas.” (I also grew up in the South)

  • Laura Hyatt

    That is nothing near an apology. It sounds more like a screw you letter. So disrespectful.

  • abirdman

    This is an eloquent and persuasive presentation of your case. I who was previously ignorant, am convinced. I hope the governor’s daughter is similarly moved.

    • Alexis D

      This is the best thing I’ve read all day. Thanks.

  • Guest

    That does it, I am selling my cowboy boots and cowboy hat.

  • Jack Bone

    That does it. I am selling my cowboy boots and cowboy hat.

    • Anthony

      Back to the drug store? Or back to methbob Billy?

      • Jack Bone

        You hate reality so you call names? You don’t like other opinions? Your way or the highway? Loser.

        • Anthony

          Nono. I called no one any names. I was inferring that you probably purchased your cowboy regalia from someone named “Methbob Billy.” Hahahaha! I’m the “loser?” You are the one who cannot read. See, “Jack” when someone makes a statement saying “That does it. I am selling my cowboy boots and my cowboy hat.” and then someone replies with “Back to the drug store? Or back to methbob Billy?” they are not name calling. They are simply asking you, Mr. “Jack Bone,” if you are either a drugstore cowboy or, as is now becoming apparent with your lack of reading comprehension, a meth-store one! Toodles!

          • Jack Bone

            Yep. You are so innocent and the voice of reason. The sad thing is you backtrack like a scared school girl. Stand up for what you believe and say. If you want to call people names, stand up for it. Believe in yourself. Speak your mind and stick to it. Saying I am a drug store cowboy is not name calling? That is not placing a title on me? lol, who has comprehension problems? Get some self dignity.

          • Jack Bone

            And why would not say back to Teners? Why would you infer something about my personality by using the locations you did? Not name calling, huh? Nono? lol You are a tool. Way too easy.

    • merchantfan

      Because so many of them were rapists?

      • Jack Bone

        Are you drunk? Yep.

        • merchantfan

          It was a joke (I mean, there were a *lot* of cowboys who raped and murdered Native women and children. Why do you think they called them ‘squaws’ and ‘papooses’? Because they wanted to dehumanize them so it didn’t sound so bad when they murdered them.) But anyway, I shouldn’t have bothered to interact with you. You’re a racist idiot and you’re going to remain a racist idiot sober or drunk.

          • Jack Bone

            How am I am racist? You are a complete fool. Please, use your ignorant logic to explain. And yes, many many Indians scalped innocent women and children. So what is your freakin point you hand wringing loser.

    • Guest

      Are you drunk?

  • ThatKelly TaylorGuy

    OH for the days when a son or daughter’s actions could get their parents removed from office!!! (crosses fingers)
    Some folks just never get it & educating them is frustrating, but thanks for trying. I learned something from the read!

    • Jack Bone

      I am offended by you crossing your fingers.

  • BiggerThan ALasagna

    Thank you for the eloquent and educational post.

  • Nate

    I am half Cree and half “white” with multiple Cree and “white” family members. I’d just like to say that not all “white” people are raised to “not hear the word no”. Not going to lie, that paragraph basically has you stereotyping all of us and makes it seem like you are racist against the “white people”.

    I believe that I am lucky to have been raised by my Cree family to not be jaded and spiteful against “whites”.

  • Stephanie Lastra

    I feel very blessed to have been raised by a Mom who taught me to *listen*, as a white American woman who does not share the history that you do. Your right that you shouldn’t have to constantly say the same things over and over, you have much more patience and endurance than I can imagine having if I were in your shoes. I think if someone wears a headdress or other “hipster native” outfit out of ignorance, they would be truly apologetic and sincerely change their future actions. Unfortunately a lot of white people seem to think that “history” (not so distant) has no bearing on anything today, not realizing the immense benefits we still receive without noticing (unless we actively take the time to notice).

  • LoveInsanity

    I’m left wondering why these headdresses are handcrafted by Native Americans and then sold and marketed to the masses. Why is it okay for a Native American to sell them to non-Native Americans and then turn around and be offended that they wore them? Why sell them in the first place?

    I’m looking at a Cherokee website right now that makes them to order “to be displayed or worn.”

    I mean no disrespect. We were discussing this online and no one could provide a valid answer. If they’re so sacred, why go after the ignorant consumer instead of the knowledgeable source?

    • Dacia Talbot

      I honestly think that it’s because some people just want to make money. It’s why you can buy “Holy Mary’s Tears” in Madrid, or voodoo dolls in Baton Rouge. Some people don’t care about their own, so long as they make a buck. But this is only my opinion.

      • jimbo8118

        regarding the Tears in Madrid. or voodoo dolls in BR.. etc.. it is only my opinion.. I never hear Mary/catholics complaining.. I never hear voodoo witches complaining.. they are SELLING this stuff on every corner. .maybe the person so upset and disrespected should focus their anger on the tribes that make and sell to profit.. just maybe they should educate their “own” .. other tribes on respect etc.. it is always the “white” guys you know.. never the native americans who take advantage.. hmmm interesting. again. my opinion folks! go ahead and moan, groan.. and reply to me. .I posted my opinion.. your rage and anger won’t be changing .. and I will delete..

        • nevilleross

          Don’t worry asshole, I’ve flagged it for you.

    • Mary_P

      Unfortunately, it seems to most often be a case of commercializing on what they know and can use to provide for themselves, but there are organizations out there, both directly and indirectly associated with Native American culture who may not have the knowledge or ability to make something of that sort on their own, without botching it up. I have seen these used in many a ceremony and they are always used (the ones I HAVE seen) and are represented with respect and not as “just a pretty headdress”

    • Tony

      That’s capitalism for you.

      • jimbo8118

        just as capitalistic as casinos , liquor and tobacco stores.. let’s hear some cultural defense for these eh? come on.. talk the talk. .you better walk that walk too..


          Stop attacking our casinos and liquor and tobacco stores. They’ve been important to us for hundreds of generations. (Okay, i’m just playing around).

          Really though, desperate times call for desperate measures. With poverty and an epidemic of social problems (i.e. suicide, alcohol/drug abuse, domestic violence) plaguing Native communities, casinos and other “capitalistic” actions are seen as one part of a solution to this dilemma.

          Some think that economic gain for a community will improve the well-being of the people. Ironically, others (native and non-native) argue that these businesses will further damage them. I personally think they are a terrible solution.

          Lastly, it’s possible that there is a lowly relationship between the given tribal government and its people. Where I’m from, the legislative government body had approved of my tribe to purchase a mine with little input from the people. Many people within the tribe argue that the coal-industry is near the end (since the U.S is pushing for renewable sources) and that this will further degrade the environment. In addition to the coal mine, many people within the tribe oppose casinos.

          Hope this helps..

    • meanneighborlady

      Most of these types of headdresses are not made by Native people at all. The point is that someone makes things to look like headdresses and then wears them as a hipster fashion accessory. The idea is to put it on like a costume without regard to the significance of the actual regalia it mocks.

      • LoveInsanity

        The ones I’m seeing are handmade to order by Cherokee and/or Navajo.

        • Ruth Swaney

          The Tsalagi and Dine’ that I know would be laughing if I told them this story.

          • Wani

            And even fewer than few would know that the misnomer ‘Cherokee’ came from the Mobilian trade dialect.a corruption of how Tsalagi is pronounced, or how to begin to pronounce Aniyunwiyv…Those pesky “original languages’, eh? Few ‘immigrants’ ever learned one.

        • i’m no expert, but a quick google says cherokee folks never wore war bonnets.

      • jimbo8118

        meanneighbor…. these are not the headresses in question on this post..

    • Girlofpages

      Possibly because Native American communities and reserves are in poverty across the united states. Desperation or they have no respect for their own cultures, I guess that’s possible. I know it’s not same thing but I sold my great-grandmothers wedding ring when my brother lost his job and couldn’t feed his little boy and they were about to be kicked out of their apartment. I didn’t want to. I wanted to keep it, it was part of my family’s past. But I had to sell the past to secure the present.

      • jimbo8118

        We, as most, have native american casinos within a few minutes of where we live.. in addition there are tobacco shops and drive through liquor stores built along side.. concert venues that, in summer, blast our little community every weekend.. with huge, gigantic speakers blaring across a couple of the very small towns and citizens.. the tribe will do nothing.. at all. they wont’ listen.. just turn the speakers up against a interstate that passes close.. and now they are intending to build a 20 story hotel that will destroy the natural view of at least one whole small historic community.. a headress? are you f/n kidding me? there are issues so much larger in the native american communities. . .and we get politically correct.. yeah .. that works.. OPINION!

    • you might consider that it is not actually the same people making and selling the warbonnets as complaining about them. it isn’t as if native americans are a unified group who share all the same opinions all the time.

    • Wani

      A ‘Cherokee’ website? There are only 3 FEDERALLY recognized ‘Cherokee’ Tribes, so which one is selling Plains Tribe headdresses? ‘Cherokee’ were known to wear turbans…anyone selling those? I don’t know of any actual ‘Cherokee’ to whom a headdress like the one pictured would ever in a million years be ‘sacred’. Maybe you were on one of those STATE ‘Cherokee’ websites? You can BUY membership into most of those for about $45. Then, you, too, can be classified as a real live Indian…and that’s the rub… Anyone who wants to claim they’re Indian can buy into it…

  • FrancesDanger

    I just wanted to clarify that some of this, including the “Appropriate Culturation” title/tag, lies squarely on the shoulders of Christina Fallin’s bandmate Steven Battles (aka Steven Pony, Chrome Pony). He came up with the title/tag and his name is listed as the one releasing that tone deaf apology.

    I was one of the original commenters on that photo and it needs to be said, loud and clear, that Pink Pony doesn’t want any Native feedback regarding this. It won’t be welcomed, nor will it be listened to. I know this because my comments on the picture were deleted and when I questioned why I was then banned from commenting. I have the screenshots showing the comments and I have the screenshots after the post was white washed. They can be seen in part here:

    This is an excellent post. I really wish Pink Pony would take it to heart but judging from the fact that they’ve now removed any and all mention of this from their page, including their apology and their plea for further discussion, I sincerely doubt they will.

  • Guest

    Thanks for this. Frankly, after reading around some more on the internet, I have concluded that the governor’s daughter seems like a clueless person without much direction in life and she might be an utterly lost cause. But what you wrote was really thoughtful and thought-provoking. I’m a middle-aged white woman & though I do try to critically question the world around me and listen carefully, I’ve got a whole freaking lifetime of hegemonic cultural noise to drown out (like pretty much everyone else). Even if Christina Fallin never gets it, I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and put this all in the bigger historical context that helps me (and hopefully some others) understand exactly why this is so offensive and hurtful.

    • Melissa

      spacemonkey said this too, is that you?

  • Anthony

    She is also probably one of the Oklahomans who thinks that everyone who has “an Indian Card” gets “Indian Money” every month. Idiot. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

    • Jack Bone

      You idiot. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

      • Anthony


        • Kristina

          I think you mean…MURICH :)

  • Brynnvisible

    As a “white/native American” I don’t know which end of the conversation to be offended by. Both? None? I never feel as though my position is valued by either side, and I wonder how many others out there feel like me. Yes, I am a white girl. But my culture, my heritage, and my history is not one of only colonization and imperial values, despite what my skin color and bleached hair may tell you. So where do I fit? I am not “native” enough, but I am not “colonial” either. Can we be entirely of one discourse anymore? Have we moved beyond, or will my children also live in a cultural limbo?

    • Dacia Talbot

      I feel your confusion. I was almost an adult before I learned of my Native ancestry. In my grandfather’s time(on my mother’s side), one didn’t admit to being ‘part-Indian’, so I didn’t hear of it until much later. Then, turn around and find that my father is at least half Native, and that he was adopted by a white family as a newborn.

      Long story short, I feel lost as to whether I identify as a white girl. It’s hard being in limbo.

      • Brynnvisible

        Thank you, Dacia! It is a strange area to inhabit, living on the fringe of cultures. Am I being judged as a “white girl” (which is just as much an umbrella as “native American” and denies every “white body” individual identity outside that of Colonial Settler) or as something else entirely? Should we be encouraging or discouraging contemporary society to encounter, engage, and encourage alternate identities/cultures/values/heritages, or are we going to remain a all-or-nothing type relationship with how we choose to identify with and/or accept others based upon our perception of how they perceive us? It’s obviously a very sensitive subject, and by no means do I mean to lessen its importance to anyone, but I think that maybe a new conversation is growing out of the old, or at least it should (in my opinion).

        • Brynnvisible

          Also, I have no idea what schools are teaching this sort of ridiculous pseudo-history:

          “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.” That resources, people, and things are yours for the taking.”

          But — that has never been my experience in a “white” (meaning non-reservation) school system. In fact, we were taught the opposite. Like, 100% the opposite. Has anyone really taught “manifest destiny” as a legitimate historical fact since the early 1900s? I think that argument might be a little outdated.

          Just putting that out there…

          • Dacia Talbot

            I think the problem is that we, as an American whole, are taught that racism against black people and minorities is wrong, but we aren’t taught what constitutes that racism. I worked at a Goodwill last year where a couple of middle class ladies were looking at the feather necklaces (which are atrocious) and one of them looks at the other and says, “Do I look like a red Injun?” Exact works. My jaw quite literally dropped. When I took it to my manager, his response was, approximately “Whatever.” If that had been a racial slur towards any other minority, he would have been up in arms.

            Where do people get this sort of racism, and how do they not realize it hurts people, even if they aren’t wholly of that race?

            • Tamara G. Suttle, M.Ed., LPC

              Speaking from my own experience in the offending position, it’s entirely possible that they were raised in a family where oppressive language was used so casually and cluelessly that they never even thought about the implications of using it. When I learned better, I did better. And, when I’ve been on the receiving end of those clueless comments, sometimes I’ve taken the time to educate and sometimes I’ve just shaken my head and walked away. I so appreciate blogs like this that help those that are interested in living more consciously. It’s a journey for us all . . . .

          • Dylan

            I went to a fairly typical school in Maine where we were taught a glorious and celebrated history of colonization. We were not taught explicitly that America was empty, or that native people needed “civilizing,” but we were taught that it was a wonderful meeting of cultures and the White stories were the ones that mattered, because it all had to happen for America to come to be, and we were of course being taught to be very patriotic at the same time. It covered up the genocide very neatly.

            This was not terribly long ago — I went to elementary and middle school in the 90s. They never said that Manifest Destiny was truth in so many words, but they never said it wasn’t right, either. They implied that it was right by celebrating its colonizing “heroes,” by teaching patriotism, by sanitizing history completely.

          • James Dickey Jr

            In a White California school it seemed pretty much to be implied that it was the case. Had a whole section on manifest destiny. For the longest time like til I moved to Oklahoma thought the native folks were no more.

          • Craig

            Does anyone really not see the continuing theft of First Nations property and resources in North America, both the U.S. and Canada? Whether schools teach it is irrelevant. Perhaps it has been so ingrained in the entitled Eurocentric mindset of this country that we simply accept it as the norm? White entitlement has been spread worldwide and is the source of nearly all world conflict. Denial doesn’t make it disappear. The argument couldn’t be more current, but it would truly be a great thing if it were out dated; that we would make it so. The world’s land and resources are not ours to steal now, anymore than they were when Columbus landed in Native ground in the late 1400’s. No, Manifest Destiny is unfortunately alive and well, it has evolved beyond curriculum to mindset.

            • Michelle Thibault

              Not sure where your idea that “theft of First Nations property and resources” occurring in Canada has come from? Do you live in Canada? I do. First Nations people in Canada still have their reserves and are still receiving financial compensation from the government. They have free healthcare, education, homes built, and don’t pay taxes that all other Canadians are subject to. The ones that were forced into the Industrial School system have received substantial settlements to attempt to make up for the horrible things done. We have “left them alone” as promised. And quite frankly, the drug/alcohol problems, suicide rates, crime rates, poverty, and gangs on many reserves are out of control. So, was it better that Natives here were left completely alone? All over the world, for centuries, different ethnicities have fought over lands, taken them from eachother, etc. I’m not saying it is right, its just the way it was. But it wasn’t me, or anyone in this generation that did any of those things. We are paying for the mistakes of our ancestors, and yes, they were mistakes, but what would you have us do now? Go back over to Europe? Our homes and lives are not there. We are not European. I am Canadian. Just as Canadian as the First Nations people that live here. I was born here. So were my parents and grandparents. I’m sorry that before my ancestors settled here that the Indigenous People were forced to sign treaties and move to reservations. But I can’t change that now. Nobody can change the past. Maybe it would be better if we all moved forward together?

              • Michelle, you’re not asked to feel guilty because of the past, you’re asked to open your eyes and see that the point is: the colonial attack on indigenous communities isn’t history! It CONTINUES TODAY in Canada!!! Have you heard of Idle No More? ( It’s an indigenous resistance movement against the Canadian/Corporate/Capitalist/Colonial attack that never ended. In response to this, the indigenous community is asking you to support their effort to resist, not to feel guilty. They’re asking you to recognize that racism, in the name of making money, is happening right now, and it’s wrong, and that you can do something about it. They’re also pointing out that as a white person in Canada, you have an extra responsibility to lend them the aid they ask for – not out of guilt, but because it’s the right thing to do in a country where the Power Establishment, which is white, gives white people more privilege than non-whites.
                You’re right that historically there have been people all over the world who have brutalized each other and taken each others land. But based on that logic, you could justify or give a pass to ANY human behavior no matter how heinous, because historically F’d up things have happened all over the world. That doesn’t justify me, you or anybody else doing F’d up things RIGHT NOW, with our lives!
                I hear you about feeling like you’re “Canadian” and it’s not like you can go back to Europe from where you came or something. I’m Mexican, Punjabi, Black, Portugese, and Dutch, in that order. I have an American passport. My people come from all over the freaking place. Where would I go back to? I agree with you that we all need to move forward together – but be careful what you say now – because if you MEAN what you say, Idle No More is moving forward, and they’re asking you to move forward with them. Part of moving forward is not being allowed to stay in our comfort zone and say: “that’s their fight, not mine,” but getting up shoulder to shoulder with each other and saying as MLK Jr. said: “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

              • Pat Anderson

                We have not done the right things by First Nations Canadians. You need to do more research. The issues of relocation, removal from families, removal of cultural items and disallowance of cultural events happened here as much as in the US. Settlers worked with the people who were here to learn how to live in this country: there was never a declared war resulting in defeated nations. We have not signed treaties with many of the nations in Canada – and those that have been signed have been frequently broken. We are not paying the First Nations Canadians anything – that money is coming out of the trust fund that was set up in agreement for settlers using some of their land — and from which we, as Settlers, have been stealing funds for over a century.
                Bone up, girl. We can’t start with a blank slate. We’ve caused too many injustices.

                • Michelle Thibault

                  I’m not saying we have done right by them, just that we did better than the US. We aren’t paying them for anything? In Hobbema the average cheque given to a Registered Treaty Native when they turn 18 is $150,000. I realize that not all Reserves are so ‘rich’ but I still think that no taxes, free post secondary education, free prescription and dental coverage for life count as something.

                  • Gesthen

                    Dear Michelle, I am a white Canadian woman. I spent much of my childhood moving from reserve to reserve with my family – my dad was a manager with the Hudson Bay Company (Northern Stores). I work in a very successful and profitable First Nations-owned organization, and I am privileged to meet, work with, and build friendships with my primarily First Nations co-workers. I lurk here a lot. :) [note: wow, I didn’t realize this would be this long – sorry about that…]

                    I would tend to agree that in general we do a BIT better than our neighbours – where racism in the States is more blatant, here we just do it subtly and politely. But I don’t think we should feel smug about that. A good deal of our self-satisfaction comes from how WE are educated – that the US warred and actively worked to exterminate their Native hosts, while we, virtuous nation that we are, negotiated proper treaties (which we met to the letter once forced to by our own courts), recognized them as sovereign nations (when it suited us, and not when it didn’t), didn’t actually go to war against them (except once or twice), and hardly tried to exterminate them at all (except culturally and socially and economically).

                    You mention Hobbema. Financially and economically, Hobbema (Maskwacis) has been very successful – their economic development has been amazing, and they own many profitable business ventures, including Peace Hills Trust & General Insurance which has multiple branches in two provinces. This is not government money, not handouts, grants or anything to do with treaty rights – it is the profit of well-run businesses. How a band decides to distribute their own funds is their own concern. While I might look at it and go, what the heck does an 18 year old need with $150K…AGAIN…not our money, not our concern. My understanding is that casino-owning tribes in the states may do something similar. BUT, still, they struggle with many of the ills that come with marginalization and poverty. Canada’s First Nations – if we treated them so much better, one would think they would be better off, with comparable experiences to non-First Nations in education, health, employment, incarceration rates, violence, addictions, and even life expectancy. But this is not the case.

                    No taxes is the one that bothers me the most. The VAST MAJORITY of First Nations people work off-reserve – and off-reserve income is taxed the same as yours and mine. I work ON reserve, in an Indian-owned business, and many of my co-workers are status Indians; THEY do not pay taxes. Do I occasionally day-dream about my paycheque being tax-free? Sure. Do I feel we should use this one benefit (minor compared to what we received in return!) to wash our hands of our complicity, or water down our compassion towards the many who are struggling? No.

                    In my province there are maybe 2000 First Nations who don’t pay taxes. Three things have to be in place for a First Nations person not to pay tax:

                    1) They must be a Status Indian as defined by the Indian Act. There were MANY ways to lose your status, which, if you’re a suspicious-minded person, might have been part of the point…

                    2) They must be working ON an Indian Reserve…

                    3) …in a business OWNED BY Indians.

                    So yes, when the stars align and the flipped coin lands on edge, a Canadian Indian doesn’t pay tax.

                    As far as health care benefits go, I watch my co-workers fight to get timely dental care through burdensome predetermination processes, argue with bureaucrats over whether their child “really needs that tooth”, struggle through a bookful of “limitations” to get the medications they require. And sometimes, they fail.

                    When it comes to education, yes there is funding – but never enough. We have a large and growing population of First Nations youth, but funding has been frozen for almost 20 years and bands must “prioritize” among their young people. One of my co-workers, a brilliant young woman who got her Bachelor’s degree about a year ago, described to me the whirlwind of hope and despair that she and her friends went through, wondering who would be the lucky ones. She was not one of them – she did it the same way I did, with scholarships and part-time jobs and student loans and help from family. This is certainly not what I imagined when I heard that Indians get “free post-secondary education”.

                    When I look at the benefits promised to our First Nations, how endless strings are attached, how grudgingly and parsimoniously they are provided, how they are called “entitled” (well yes, they are actually entitled) and are looked down upon for even USING those benefits…well, I find it hard to see that we have much high ground on the issue.

                    • nevilleross

                      Ignore Michelle, she’s just being ignorant, and is more than likely picking up what she knows from the National Post and Sun News Channel (the Canadian version of Fox News).

              • Erin

                Michelle, I, too, live in Canada and I can’t let your comment just hang there. Saying “it’s just the way it is” and “I can’t change that now” is a wickedly boring type of defensiveness and apathy. Have you ever visited a reserve? Ever? And if you think that *we* aren’t continually contributing to the oppression of Native peoples in Canada, I suggest you start checking current Canadian policy that applies in Canada. It’s still the Indian Act.

                • Michelle Thibault

                  I have visited a reserve more than once. Used to live in a community with 3 reserves around us. Have an adopted native sister. I’m not saying that its is ok here, I’m saying its different than in the States. What I was trying to say was that we need to work together, “whites” and native Canadians to move forward. Not staying stuck in the past. At some point we have to move forward.

          • BreeMass

            For the record, the answer to the question of whether or not children are being taught colonial values is ABSOLUTELY! I can’t tell you the garbage I was fed from history books growing up in Idaho about the “empty” lands, the savage natives, the benevolence of slavery, etc, etc. It’s sickening to look back on and it took me years of sustained efforts to retrain myself in the actual history of our nation and the colonialism of our “founding fathers” and I can still be surprised by things I learn. A large number of states get all of their textbooks from a few places in Texas and they have fought long and hard to maintain the whitewashing of American history through textbooks. As a mid-thirties white woman, I can attest to the fact that there are many people of my generation who were raised on this crap and it definitely informs how we see the world if we don’t make efforts to learn the truth and confront it.

          • whitenoise23

            I was taught manifest destiny and basically that Native Americans didn’t exist in my history classes in the late 80s early 90s in middle school and high school. I didn’t learn about intentional genocide or the residential schools until I was in university in the 2000s. This is not that old. I mean, there is still a Colombus Day in the US. Think about that for a second. Do you know he was a mass murderer? He and his men killed the Taino for sport? They fed their bodies to dogs. We still celebrate this man with an official government sanctioned holiday. Read the diaries of Bartolomo de las Casas.

          • meanneighborlady

            It’s implicit. It is what people refer to as “normal” or “American.” It’s so much a part of the culture that the people most deeply in it cannot recognize or see it. Those outside of it can very much see it. It isn’t sour grapes. It isn’t “complaining.” It’s the fucking goddamned truth.

          • bluecinema

            I grew up in upstate New York, the heart of Iroquois country. My school district had an Iroquois name, each of the 12 individual schools had Iroquois names (Karigon, Orenda, Tesago, Arongen). We were never taught what a single one of them meant. We were never taught anything more than anthropological kiddy stuff about Native Americans (“they lived in longhouses!”). We had a racist Indian mascot none of us questioned until local Native Americans forced the issue and it was replaced in 1995.

            My school was “a national school of excellence”, not once did I hear that the Founding Fathers were inspired by the democracy of the Iroquois who lived where our very classrooms sat. That Ben Franklin said, to paraphrase, if these savages can do it, so can we. That the Articles of Confederation, the idea that post-Revolutionary America would be a confederacy, was modeled after the Iroquois Confederacy. Then I went to college and the dorms were Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida and Onondaga and again no one mentioned the import of these names.

            I took Advanced Placement United States History in 11th grade. Our teacher made us do in-class debates. I got the position “Andrew Jackson was not a good president”. Easy, I thought. No one will argue against my condemnation of genocide. But they did. And they won. And I lost. I lost that debate, I lost the debate against bombing Hiroshima. I never took another history class again in my life. If this was how history was taught I was not interested.

            Twelve years later I decided to go back to school to be a social studies teacher, but to teach social studies you must teach history. I re-learned everything I’d been mistaught, starting with Native American history. I’ve found it endlessly fascinating – more than any other aspect of American history. I’ve read dozens of books on the subject. I recommend the oral history of the Pocahontas story (The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History). She was kidnapped, raped and murdered. How many people know this? Her husband’s name, her first husband, was Kocoum. The British killed him and their child when they kidnapped Pocahontas. In the Disney version she rejects Kocoum in favor of John Smith. In the 2005 film “The New World”, she chooses John Smith.

            When I took my subject matter competency exam to get my social studies teaching credential, I got the essay question, “What was the conflict between the Cherokee and Andrew Jackson?” I wrote, in so many words, that Andrew Jackson wanted the Cherokee to disappear and they persisted in existing. And that “conflict” is a bit of misnomer, if your side of the “conflict” is maintaining your right to exist.

            I now teach Advanced Placement United States History. We did a roleplay of the 1830 Indian removal of the Cherokee to Oklahoma, from the Zinn Education Project. My students walked away knowing that the many Cherokee had done their best to assimilate and, in many cases, were more successful than their white neighbors. They also walked away wondering why they had never heard of the Seminole before, who they found inspirational and badass.

            I am very glad that Adrienne has the patience and emotional fortitude to tirelessly work on issues of native representation. When I was in high school, I thought it was OK to wear a war bonnet for fun. Now that I know better, I cannot understand for the life of me why people feel the need to defend their “right” to “honor” natives by appropriating their culture. If you want to honor native people, and show respect and listen.

          • Tamara G. Suttle, M.Ed., LPC

            I’m a 53 year old white woman of some privilege and, yes, manifest destiny was taught in junior high school in Texas, high school and college in North Carolina, and many of my college-educated peers continue to spout these myths. I have learned over time that just because I have experienced X doesn’t mean that others have not experienced Y and Z instead.

          • OddMamaOut

            That is pretty much the norm and standard for most schools. They are still taught that Columbus discovered us. Kids still sing the rhymes. As they get older some real truths may be introduced but overall the messaging is the same. Are there exceptions? Of course. Not enough.

          • Susan White

            My nephew is five. He’s also Pawnee, Eastern Cherokee and Choctaw. He came home last fall singing “10 Little Indians”. My sister wasn’t comfortable doing it so good old auntie (me) had the talk with the teacher. Well I emailed her and ended up in contact with the whole Kindergarten team. They ended up not singing that song, and a few others (“Indians Creeping” like really? *shudders*) They learned a bit from me but I could tell it wasn’t enough. It starts right away in thousands of schools across the US with the little ones. Teachers still sing those songs that objectify us, and still do the pilgrims and Indians thing in November (yes this occurred in November too, like we don’t exist all year round.) Some tell kids we say “how” and still think women are called squaws! My nephews school knows better now, but they didn’t! I’m in Michigan. There are tons of Anishinabek people here but it’s like we’re invisible or “not real Indians”. You don’t have to use the words “manifest destiny” to give kids the impression that they’re superior to others. I even know of a woman whose kids were biracial who taught her children that Native Americans weren’t human beings! These concepts are spread throughout our society. Whether you hear them in those words or not, they’re there. So I don’t think it’s outdated at all.Just my opinion.

    • Roxanne El

      Your children will learn what you teach them. .but you have to learn first

    • meanneighborlady

      Not every article or well-positioned rebuttal to an offensive act meant for you. I believe that this article is about the governor’s daughter and the kind of privilege she and people like her have. The folks who bring up the racial divide isn’t Adrienne Keen, as you seem to imply, but rather the people who choose to ignore the reasons we are in this place right now–and how people can live in Oklahoma, be the daughter of the governor, and still have zero idea why this particular brand of idiocy would be offensive, you know, given Oklahoma history.

  • spacemonkey

    Thanks for this. Frankly, after reading around some more on the internet, I have concluded that the governor’s daughter seems like a clueless person without much direction in life and she might be an utterly lost cause. But what you wrote was really thoughtful and thought-provoking. I’m a middle-aged white woman & though I do try to critically question the world around me and listen carefully, I’ve got a whole freaking lifetime of hegemonic cultural noise to drown out (like pretty much everyone else). Even if Christina Fallin never gets it, I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and put this all in the bigger historical context that helps me (and hopefully some others) understand exactly why this is so offensive and hurtful.

  • Terrie_S

    I find it telling that her talk of Native American cultures is all about how things look. As if culture were a simple fashion statement.

    Oh, wait, to her, it is.

  • As someone who barely has Native blood (a great grandfather), I cannot by any stretch speak to all the things you eloquently spoke about. It is unconscionable what was done to the people who were the original landowners here. Nothing, however, can change that history. I did wonder if I understood you to be saying no one should ever wear Native creations? Native artists make beautiful pieces of art and sell them – some are jewelry. I’m confident we’re not saying only Natives should wear these pieces.

    • Matt Atkinson

      The issue isn’t that fashionable tributes to Native styles and imagery is wrong. That’s fine. The issue is that when the specific items being used are actually sacred, or represent earned valor or status through achievements, THAT wold be over the line. Wearing beadwork, turquoise, a choker, a Native design on a T-shirt….no problem. When it comes to feathers and headdresses, those things have special status. It wold be like stealing valor from a veteran by wearing a purple heart medal, “but I only wore it because it’s beautiful and I wanted to honor you!”

      • Thanks, Matt. I appreciate the simplicity of the explanation. I don’t like it when these pieces are used in ways that appear less honorable and more like satire. That is what offends me.

  • I’m full-blooded Romani Gypsy and for the last hundred years my relatives have been in America so suffice to say, I’m pretty westernized. I get hurt and frustrated by the persecution, the appropriation, ignorance, hate and bias against my culture and sometimes I really feel like just giving up and letting the ‘dancing gypsy mystic’ become a positive stereotype because it’s better than the ‘thieving lying scoundrel’ belief, it’s extremely rare when I see a post about cultural appropriation that gives me the hope that I can raise the bar to hope for an abolishment of prejudice, stereotyping and also that many cases of cultural appropriation is ignorant and praises certain aspects of cultures that were founded from persecution and violence(like nomadism which is more often then not caused by romani peoples being forced out of certain places) and that is simply not right or fair in anyway. Also, I must add that from my experience, I believe that certain cultures produce such things that are natural in their culture like headresses in hopes that they will be appreciated, beloved and embraced and not to be gawked at, made fun of or taken lightly. I’ve gotten some slack for practicing mysticism and divination and told I would not be taken seriously for calling out stereotypes while practicing those interests but it is what I have known as a child, what I have embraced as an adult and what I put out into the world with those same hopes that are shared by others selling or offering something that is from their culture or heritage. I just wanted to share my deep appreciation for this post and for your beautiful mindset and delivery of what I have felt from my particular plight, Thank you!

  • Jenny

    Dear Adrienne,

    Perfectly said. Thank you for your writing!

  • Travis Calder

    While I agree with some of the things you say, I think you actually argue against your own point with your swastika example.

    Had the National Socialist party been told that the swastika “wasn’t for them” it wouldn’t hold the symbolism it holds today. In a sense, had the same approach been taken the symbol would have been “spared” so to speak.

    I also tend to doubt that people will learn to fear a symbol simply because they’re asked not to use it incorrectly. By being asked that, it tells them that there is a “correct” way to use it. They might take that as an opportunity to learn more, or ignore it and keep using the symbol poorly, or choose to respect the symbol and stop using it but not bother to learn why.

    That actually brings me to the only part of the original letter that bothers me – the use of the word “violence” in regards to her actions. They are offensive, no doubt, but not violent, which is specifically defined to involve physical force. Violence is harmful, you are not free to harm others, but you are certainly free to offend them.

    In my view, Ms. Fallin has the right as a free person to wear the headdress, and Adrienne is free to be offended. Adrienne is free to shout about it or speak eloquently as to why (she chose the later, and I thank her), and Ms. Fallin is free to ignore her words or listen, change or stay the same.

    And we, as a society, are free to listen to both sides, pick one, and add our voices to it, or stay silent if we so prefer. It’s all very messy, but to me that’s what makes it beautiful. And now that I’ve read Adrienne’s words I choose to add my voice to her side, despite a small disagreement on terminology.

    (Hope my ramble wasn’t too boring of a read. To be clear, I in no way am saying that the wrongs done historically weren’t violent – they clearly were – just this particular picture.)

  • MrTouchShriek

    Might want to steer clear of wielding the “hipster” label, as having passive “respect” for the Zapatistas and keeping a social justice blog is about as hipsterish as it gets nowadays. Still do agree with your assessment of Fallin, however.

  • Loo

    Very well said! It’s amazing how ignorant people can be. What I do in life requires a constant battle with the rich and powerful who think they are entitled to anything and everything and what I have learnt is that all you can do is provide knowledge and hope that it reaches someone. Your words are very powerful and wise (I could definitely learn a thing or two from you) Thank you for sharing :)

  • Rebecca Lauren

    I am an enrolled person of a Federally Recognized Tribal Nation. I am of Native and Euro descent. I am a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts. I have made three headdresses in my life. I found wild birds from the forest that passed. I salted and froze them. Then started the long tedious process of sewing feather by feather a headdress in the design of my tribes culture and in my interpretation of my tribes culture. I have not made a headdress in 10 years. I was a self employed fine artist on my reservation for years in the NE. In sweatlodge or in prayer or the years I helped in sundance I tried to practice what Buddhism/ Dalai Lama calls Compassion. I try to imagine and grasp and give long thought to the suffering of Natives past. I have tried to imagine what it was like for my people to wake up militarily blocked into their grass hut wigwam village finding no escape while attempting to avoid being burned alive. Our villages were set afire. Many Mohegan’s died that way. Burned alive. I tried to imagine tonight the walk from the SouthEast to Oklahoma. Just imagine a federal marshall coming to your door and saying ‘ok…This is no longer your home. Grab your Nikes and walk to Oklahoma.’ Imagine the suffering; horror; grief and loss. As a side note I think I saw you at Pojoaque Pueblo grocery store a few years back. You complimented my earrings. Was that you? Anyway ….no matter. It looked like you but I was afraid to ask.I am not identifiable as Indian in appearance but I am and carry my BIA#.

  • Adam Centurione

    if there is anything humanity needs most in these times, it’s love and honesty.

  • Zachary Austin Baker

    Ive already said this so many times.. Every single culture from all corners of this stunning plannet have been crafted by human hands, the same hands we all share, the same bones, and the same blood driven hearts. We are all brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers who at one point adorned the heart and innocense of a child. With age we fall victim to the illusion of difference and forget the fire and beauty held in every child’s eyes. Even the man with no home was at one point a child with that fire, let us not forget our true common origin. Only God can judge. Before anything else God made us all as one, human. Stand up for the betterment of the entire human race.

  • Oldhaole

    George: I have to take issue with your ideas and I feel compelled to inform you that it is only the very privilege of being a member of the dominant culture in the United States that makes most people think they can make a claim like “NO PEOPLE should have anything that is just theirs”. Consider for a moment the indigenous peoples of the continent and other U.S. “possessions” like Guam, American Samoa and the state of Hawaii. Now consider that each and EVERY one of them are the children and grandchildren of Diaspora. Everything (almost) that they had has been taken from them in the last 500 or so years. Some of these groups have treaty rights guaranteed by the U.S, Government so they do indeed have things that are just “theirs” as well they should.
    Let’s talk about the head dress in specific. I will use a comparison here. The Medal of Honor is the highest award a soldier can receive for bravery and duty above and beyond the call. There are penalties for anyone who is not a recipient of this award who wears it or claims it. There a laws to protect the sanctity of the award. The headdress you claim is the symbol associated with Native Americans is similar to those tribes and peoples that wore or wear it so it IS NEVER okay for a non-Indian to wear it.

  • EPL

    Have to say, after reading a lot of the comments and the well written response by Adrienne, that regardless of whether you like what the Gov’s daughter did or not, a wonderful conversation was started. Maybe Christina’s ignorance should be applauded right along w/Adrienne’s thought provoking response. For without ignorance, there is no space for learning.

  • Rebecca Lauren

    The Native woman is my mom. She was Tribal Council many years. Growing up deeply familiar with the white world and Native world (equally) I can attest that non Natives really have no idea of the true horror Natives endured. I ask also how much do we as present day Natives appreciate the pain they endured. Native Appropriation is truly a sad form of Ignorance. A true lack of respect for the truth that genocide was committed on the red nations .Genocide is a huge word for anyone to really grasp.

  • jdock

    “Telling people WHY it is a symbol deserving of a certain respectful treatment; and why, despite their attempts to show love and respect for native peoples by adopting and adapting it they are accidentally acting in a way that is perceived as very disrespectful… would be a more effective strategy.”

    The author actually does explain why the symbol deserves respectful treatment in the article. She lists specific example of WHY it is revered in [some—not all utilize headdress] native tribes.

  • ISO640

    Great article but sorry you had to write it. Let’s face it, what America seems to be really good at is stealing and then misappropriating cultures. It’s happened with the Native Peoples, African-Americans, the Irish… Maybe American’s are jealous that we don’t have this deep history that is our own. I grew up a bit differently…I’ve got two full-blooded Native great-grandmothers so I’ve always wanted to learn about and respect Native culture. I hate what the colonizing Americans did to the Native peoples as much as I hate what they did to Africans and the Irish. As Americans, we don’t have a kind history to people who are different, that’s for sure.

  • Susan Munro

    Your post is deeply wise and respectful of ALL people. Telling the truth is never easy, hearing it is another matter (as you most artfully demonstrated in your post). I am not native, I am Scottish from my roots. I would feel and do feel, deeply disturbed when Non-Celtic people adorn themselves with symbols of my culture just to be “cool” without having a clue what they mean. I understand and applaud you. As for the twit that wore the headdress for a fashion statement, she deserves our pity in most ways, understanding in others and chastising in a calm manner – which you provided. I applaud your thoughtful approach to this.

    • Chinua

      I am Scottish on my mom’s side- I get what you mean. English (especially the Royal family) wearing kilts? When the Scots/Irish weren’t allowed to wear them, speak Gaelic, play bagpipes not so long ago? Natives are told to get over what happened 50 years ago- when celts who are born overseas from their cultural home are angry about the battle of Culloden.

  • XanthumGum

    Some people have never been taught about the true American Holocaust; about their ancestors who deliberately murdered anywhere from 10 – 90 MILLION of the original inhabitants of America. It doesn’t fit well with the fake ‘history’ being taught in schools and also promoted by profit-focused corporations like Disney in their ‘entertainments.’

  • Elfi

    Oh FFS. This is the first I’ve heard of this and all I can say… HOW DID SHE NOT KNOW THIS WOULD BE A DEEP PILE TO STEP IN. I’m not even an OK native – lived in cushy Bixby for barely 4 years in yuppieville, grew up a Yankee with no real clue except a clinical timeline of the past in my history books (and I never was much for history, I’m more a Biology girl) and *I* know better than to pull a stunt like this…. There are much better bright red things to put in your hair to offset that lipstick, girlie.

    It already makes me sick to see reservations selling headdresses to anyone who’ll pay the money, tourists coming through like “oh isn’t this so quaint? was it made by Native Children, oh bless their hearts” etc, that alone just skeeves me out with how patronizing it is … but to see someone so publicly (and, come on! she HAD TO KNOW) being SO daft about a tender topic for her own publicity and attention… IN OKLAHOMA… just ugh.

  • Sum Aurea

    I have shared this article with many whose opinions I trust, to ensure
    that my initial thoughts about it were not the result of emotional bias,
    but rather rooted in reason. It is only after receiving their feedback
    that I add my two cents here, and judging from your “rules” it will
    likely be deleted anyway. Your points here are many and valid. I offer
    my respect for the honesty contained in your words. They are also
    hypocritical and obtuse in places, while open and understanding in
    others. You seem to have a firm grasp on your own opinion and assume
    the voice of “your people” with ease, so I assume that you have been
    authorized in some manner to speak for whomever might be included in
    that category. I would be very interested to know whom you include in
    that ephemeral group you name “your people”. The answer to that
    question would help many of us truly understand many things about what
    you truly believe and what perhaps we should consider believing too. If
    you could answer that question with the same unwavering judgment you
    use elsewhere in this article, it would be seriously appreciated and
    illuminating for me and others. Thank you for your consideration.

  • Tony

    It would be very foolish for anyone not to respectfully set personal interest aside when you tell them it is a painful reminder of very real cultural decimation and geonocide, especially if it’s presented with the the with the tremendous knowledge and acumen you put forth to provide historical context on behalf of their enlightenment. Perhaps if you want to straighten out someone who might be inappropriately entitled or ignorant enough to be offensive, but who’s clearly signaled empathy and enthusiasm for native culture, there’s no value or need to come out of the gate with the old “chastise her with utter disbelief and stress the abnormal and inexcusable nature of the way she thinks” routine. You didn’t even express the essence of why its offensive- how it made you feel or what it reminds you of- which is precisely you’re first opportunity to put someone else in your shoes and begin to change their mind, until the 8th paragraph.

  • guest

    “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.”

    I could barely even get past this.

    The apparently singular “Native American culture” is, in the next sentence, instantly reduced to an “aesthetic.” It isn’t even culture anymore in Fallin’s eyes. It’s an “aesthetic.” A style, an affectation, a fashion, a look. A visual fragment, a narrow pictorial representation of a sentimental fantasy she has about an imagined, singular culture. The rhetorical twist is startling in its suddenness and absoluteness, offered without the slightest explanation.

    It’s really terribly, terribly patronizing.

  • Tony

    I have no issue with finding her actions offensive, the logic and context that make it offensive , or desiring her acknowledgement of it. All you really need to stand on is the historical context and what it evokes in you. But you do know you wrote and posted a letter that owes its very existence to perils of making presumptions and assertions in place of facts and first hand knowledge, right? You peppered your letter with so many presumptions and assertions about other people that you can’t possibly know it obscures the the relevant materiel and makes it difficult to take you seriously. “As a white person you…”, “you’re not used to hearing this” and “I learned to hear that in a different way bc I’m Native…”, “I’m quiet and I listen and learn bc it’s wrong to wear their clothes”… Come on now, are you serious with that? So you’re going to lecture abt something like this by hanging vague generalizations like that on an individual you don’t know or applying them specifically to yourself to bolster your own position? Really? It’s outlandishly contradictory with the fundamental spirit of the entire issue at hand.

  • Sabrina Conlee

    Growing up in Anadarko, Oklahoma I was taught about the various tribes that call Oklahoma home. It became very apparent at a young age that all Native tribes were not the same or even had the same beliefs. I was taught to respect each one in their own rights. Some of my best memories were talking to Mrs. McCurdy across the street from my house. She would tell me stories from her tribe and share her heritage with me. Being a white girl I felt very honored that she would share this with me.

    Knowing what I know about Native culture I found the picture to be of someone completely ignorant of the meaning of the headdress in some of the Native tribes. I do not believe Christina fully understands the meaning if what she did. I appreciate your thoughts and words on this matter. In a world that appreciates drama your calm explanation and challenge to Christina is a welcomed change. I hope Christina and others truly listen and not just hear.

  • Jamie Trudeau

    I have to second what someone previously said about you seemingly lumping all “whites” together. Each of my four grandparents is, to my knowledge, full-blooded, so I am 1/4 each Irish, Italian, Lebanese, and Puerto Rican. I have olive skin and dark eyes and hair, but I mostly look and identify (and am identified) as just “white.” But NONE of my ancestors were American colonizers, none of them are to blame for the plight of Native Americans. My ancestors all arrived long after that period, and all of them have been or currently are widely discriminated against.

    My question to you, then, is: Are people like me who have no colonial/British blood, no relation at all to those who committed such atrocities toward the Native American tribes, are we exempt from this discussion? Where do “whites” like me fit into this discussion, if at all? I don’t want to hurt of offend anyone; I’ve never even thought of wearing a headdress, etc., but I feel offended by your use of the word “whites” to condemn/blame every American who identifies as “white,” whatever their ancestory.

    I think the word “white” or Caucasian to define ethnicity is fault and far far out of date. It defines only skin color, and even then the definition is vague–where on the color wheel of skin colors does “white” officially end? I have no better suggestion, however, as I’ve struggled my whole adult life as to which box I should be checking on various forms. Hispanic? Yes, but only 1/4. White? Well, if by white they mean of European descent, then half. If they mean skin color, then “sort of?” If they mean non-black or non-Asian, then yes. Where’s the box for Middle Eastern? Why can you only check one box?

    I’d like to hear others’ views on the current definition of “white” and whether it’s valid any longer, or just causes confusion and misplaced characterization.

    • guest

      Respectfully, I think you’re missing the point. Unless individuals like Fallin expose themselves as specifically offensive, the charge of insensitivity is culture-wide. This isn’t about a specific, handed-down heritage of responsibility from one forebear to the next, it’s about a cultural heritage in which the class of oppressors was of white, European origin. Whether those Europeans had darker skin like say an Italian or Portuguese or Spaniard, or fairer skin like a Brit, Dutch or northern French person is beside the point.

      That you–or I–have partial ethnicities from countries that originated no colonization of the western hemisphere is, likewise, beside the point. It isn’t about YOU or ME and where our parents or great grandparents came from, it’s about a national culture attached to and integrated with the heritage of the political state The United States of America, and the systematic, methodical war this then-expansionist state waged against the first people of this geographic area we now call North America (and South for that matter). The very name itself–America…American–manifests the colonization of the region to which it’s attached.

      Put another way, “you” or “I” are no more or less white than any first person was or was not “red” in the eyes of the colonizers. It’s a question of perspective. And as long as something like The Washington Redskins remain an entity, it’s hard to argue that the characterization of first nations as Red is dead as a concept.

      Sorry…that’s probably poorly explained…Someone else want to amplify?

      • Although I didn’t state that I understood and *agreed* with the point of the above article, I did–though you seem to have taken it for granted that because I brought up a side question that I have “missed the point.”

        And as far as you saying that “white” is a question of perspective rather than of skin color or ancestory–that shows that you have entirely missed *my* point–that the terms being used to discuss ethnicity in the context of culture aren’t really valid. I wonder if you even completed reading my above post. If we’re going to have a rational discussion about cultural appropriation, history, etc.–we need to use accurate terms. Just one of the times the writer of this article throws the word “white” around is: “You, as a white person, have been socialized in a society where you’ve been taught imperial, colonial values.” If she meant “non-native American”, then she should have said that rather than “white.” Or perhaps she meant “You, as a wealthy, upper-class, privileged child” or perhaps she just meant “American.” I can’t say. Either way, in general, the writer would do better to avoid using the word “white” in the way she does, which implies that she blames a huge group of people who’ve done nothing wrong for the insensitive actions of a few.

        Another point–I am no more white than the writer is. She, in fact, states elsewhere that she is “white.” So, wait, is she blaming herself as well? Is she saying that she herself what taught colonial values in school? If so, she is implying that she also absorbed and claimed those values–which is certainly what she implies in the above letter to Chrisina Fallin. (Again with the blurry definitions.) We are both Americans of roughly the same age, however, and I’d guess that we were taught fairly the same history if we both attended public school, but as far as “values,” that where she loses me. You can’t just say that all non-native Americans (much less all “whites” or even all Americans) were taught or hold the same values. We may have been taught the same history, but I certainly didn’t grow up feeling privileged or entitled or better than anyone else. I agree wholeheartedly that we need to have more accurate, less biased history taught in schools, in regards to American colonization as well as a plethora of other inaccuracies and biases. But to use the word “white” in this way (an inaccurate and vague one) is not only flawed, naive, and offensive, but it also doesn’t help her argument to change things.

        So, in conclusion: Agreed with points, disagreed with terminology.

    • merchantfan

      Having white privilege is about the way you are perceived because of the way you look. I have white privilege. I’m Jewish, female, bi, and struggle with a minor disability and depression, but I still have white privilege. I (and you) still benefit from the past and present oppression of groups such as African-Americans and Native Americans. We live where we live because the indigenous peoples were killed or driven out. The institutions we enjoy were built on the unpaid labor of African slaves. So we have our own dues to pay, even if our ancestors didn’t personally own any slaves or kill any American Indians.

      • I agree with you on the idea of white privilege. That’s fairly undeniable. The author as well has that. I don’t know if I believe that we have “dues to pay,” though. I don’t believe in punishing the children for the father’s sin–in this case just the father’s perceived sin. What I do believe, though, is that *everyone* has a duty to promote fairness and equality for all people *now*. I don’t think dwelling on the past (learning, yes; understanding, yes; sympathizing, of course; but dwelling, no) is terribly helpful in moving forward. We don’t need to create guilt in non-guilty people, and we don’t need to foster doubt or bitterness in minorities. What we need to do, is create a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic partnership for everyone who exists *now*, and to promote empathy and love between peoples, rather than baiting them into continuing grudges and battles. If we want to move forward and turn our country into one where equality is *real* and not just talked about, we have to work together, not against each other, to get to that point.

        • merchantfan

          The author might have white privilege in a discussion on appropriation of African-American culture, but we are talking about *her* culture. Wearing offensive items doesn’t prevent empathy and love, does it? I think Fallin is much more at fault here for making our society unequal than Adrienne is for pointing out that it is offensive (which it already was). People have made the point time and time again that it is offensive to wear headdresses, even if it is out of ‘admiration’ for ‘Native American’ beliefs. If she really understood and admired them, she’d know not to wear that. She just likes the stereotype. Fashion doesn’t trump civil rights. Also, the child should be punished for the sins of the father if they commit the same sins. Fallin isn’t being criticized for being the descendant of killers and rapists, she’s being criticized for perpetuating a stereotype.

          • I agree completely. I never defended Fallin.

          • I agree completely. What Fallin did was totally wrong. I never argued that or defended her at all.

  • I appreciate your continuing attempts to educate us white people. Your well crafted letter explains quite rationally the hurt involved when your cultural iconography and symbols are appropriated and then (what must be most infuriating) brushed aside by apologists as some form of “innocent respect.” These same folks easily understand the outrage involved when cultural icons closer to their own history are subjected to irreverence- “Piss Christ,” sexy nun costumes, blackface makeup or wearing Nazi regalia. So thank you and keep trying- there are many of us who cannot change the past but who want HEAL the wounds those mistakes left. Your efforts make that possible- Ray

  • lilliquist

    Very thoughtful blog. Thanks. The comments following the blog are equally thought-provoking.

    Uncomfortably, I find myself a bit in Ms. Fallin’s shoes. I too grew up around Native American art and culture, and was taught that it was part of Pacific Northwest history (part of my family has been in Washington/Alaska area since the 1880s, when it was still a “territory” not a state). To me, Coastal Salish art is familiar and feels like part of my home and heritage. But I am European in ancestry, so what am I to do? Can I enjoy Coastal Salish artistry and culture without being guilty of “appropriation” or disrespect?

    My favorite coffee mug has a Coastal Salish sun mask in traditional black and red. Is it OK, since it was manufactured by a First Nations company in British Columbia? When I turned that same design, with modifications, into sidewalk chalk art a number of years ago, what that disrespectful? To me, it felt at the time like I was honoring part of the history of my homeland. On my wall, my favorite piece of art is a Native American moon mask. Is that appropriation? Or do I get a “pass” because I know it was made my a local Lummi Nation student, and I obtained it at a raffle for the Northwest Indian College?

    I need guidance. Please let me know how I can embrace Coastal Salish culture as a white person. Please tell me where the line is between appropriation and appreciation. Please let me know if even part of Coastal Salish culture can be part of my own culture.

    The above questions are not just rhetorical, but sincere. I don’t expect you to answer. Fortunately, I know some local elders and tribal leaders, although not well. Maybe I will have the courage to ask them, when the time is right.

  • Mickey

    Is wearing a headdress taboo for all? Are there acceptable times one may be worn? Please educate me.

    • Karyn

      If you’re not Native, there is no acceptable time. Not yours.

      • Darrell King

        so does that mean native peoples can’t wear jeans because they are white people garments and kahkis or t shirts???

        • herderp

          Jeans have never had a deep symbolic meaning. To westerners, they’re just clothes. Regalia such as the headdress can only be *earned* in a Native tribe.

      • Serious Questions

        It’s not anybody’s. Cultures don’t own objects.

      • blakmira

        Really? When was it patented or trademarked?

        • Terrie_S

          Would you wear military honors you didn’t earn?

          • blakmira

            Hell yes, I would, if I wanted to. You going to try to stop me? It just so happens I don’t believe in meaningless “honors” given to people who have killed in the name of “war.” And my grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee who grew up on a reservation & I couldn’t care less who wants to wear a headdress. So looks like I’m the authority here.

          • blakmira

            Wouldn’t want to. Is there actually such a thing as someone being “honorable” that’s participating in a war? LOL

          • blakmira

            Wait — there’s honor in the military?


    She Is Brain Dead Oligarchy …too many bleaching chemicals to the brain…Aloha

  • meanneighborlady

    Excellent response!

  • Otto Torrens

    Oh so I can’t wear wear one? I’d like to see you try and stop me you self righteous asshole.

  • Stephanie Christine

    Dear American Whites (those particular ones who may try to argue the subject) who are more often than not Christians:

    Lets propose that your churches will be banned. You may not go there again, and in fact they will be torn down and the land taken over by someone else. Your bibles will be taken, forcibly removed from you if necessary, and burned. The same for any jewelry, trinkets, and any other items and symbolism pertaining to your religion and beliefs – all outlawed. The symbolic robes and other garments worn by various members within the church will be seized from them and burned. You may never speak of any of this subject again; never mention god or Jesus, never recite or paraphrase anything from the bible or utter any thoughts associated with your religion of beliefs. You may not teach any of it to your children, who, by the way, will be spending some time away far from home, against their and your will, to get the Christianity out of them. (And just a heads up, some of you may never see them again.) If you are caught possessing, speaking or doing any of these things that have been banned by the law, there WILL be harsh punishment.

    Then, in a couple hundred years time, now that it’s legal again, a young non-Christian adult, one who’s lineage was never Christian, not even even prior to the law and is in fact a descendant of some of those who made the law against it in the first place, will don the symbolic garments of high members of your church. Likely robes that were traditionally only ok for a man to wear. She will put a never-to-be-read bible on her coffee table because it’s hip to do that. She will put on an excessive amount of jewelry associated with the symbolisms of your religion, but will remain to have zero emotional or spiritual connection to it – however she does want to feel somewhat cultural and connected to you, without ever actually being one of you. And she will flaunt how trendy and beautiful she looks in it all and ask that you forgive her for innocently wearing your pretty things, after your great grandparents had it so forcefully removed from them by her forefathers/mothers.

    (Yes, I get that Christian persecution exists in history, still harshly exists in some parts of the world and that some of the ‘western world’ thinks they have it unfair already. That is not the point of this, the point isn’t actually you.)

  • tmitsss
  • Experimental Scientist

    That does it. From now on Native Americans can no longer listen to Beethoven. It’s cultural appropriation!

  • Golden Carter

    I am curious. I am on the “rolls” as a Choctaw, but my skin is white. Well, sort of a yellowish white because my more Native looking father’s genes do show up a little bit in the white.
    Would it be offensive for me to wear Native “things” like a war bonnet or a feather?

    I am genuinely curious because I often think that I am not allowed because my skin doesn’t show my heritage as much as it would for other people. Even people in my own family have darker skin than I do. My own son does, for example, due to a mixture of my Native Choctaw (I also have Cherokee ancestors, but my mother’s side of the family was deemed “too white” to be allowed on the rolls) genes and his father’s Blackfoot genes, though both his father and I also look white.

    I try to be very respectful because I grew up in Oklahoma and I read the history books and about the horrors that were committed under Andrew Jackson. I know that I do not look Native, but the horrors my ancestors suffered still hurt me to read. I was at once angry at what happened to them and embarrassed that I also am white.
    Growing up, my family kept the “beautiful things” like the feathers, the bonnets, and the dream catchers. I wonder now if that was horribly offensive?

    • herderp

      Yes. It would be offensive. When I was young and my father took me to pow-wows, it was made very clear that one does not get to wear regalia unless one has earned it.

    • herderp

      I’m half-white and got my mother’s pale skin, so to reply to your reply – no. I know members of Native tribes with pale skin and red hair. It does not matter your skin color, if you are a member of a tribe and have earned the right to wear regalia, you may wear it in appropriate constructs (pow-wows, etc). I wouldn’t wear regalia as a fashion accessory to my office job.

      (ETA: I personally wouldn’t wear it, ever, having not earned the right to do so.)

  • Paulo Pincaro

    Out of curiosity, did the ‘Native’ Americans really have claim to anything here either? Did they not migrate here (something about… HISTORY, fucking look it up and stop victimizing yourself to make up for your own faults that you apparently look to cover up by claiming to be fighting for this huge and necessary cause… by being an antithetical racist… how mother fucking convenient, considering that’s not a reality you’re capable of achieving without… just being racist) or are we just choosing to get offended at any little thing because… we’re an over emotional woman with access to a public medium and intertwined into this social media bullshit. But, fuck us all sideways, because you’re going to lay down the law on Native American headdresses. That corn? You put that fucking shit down man, the fucking Native Americans were the ones that cultivated it so you can’t fucking have it, or use it, or eat it. While I comprehend the points you made, I have to ask you if you really think casinos are ‘deeply embedded’ to Native American culture and why or why not. Good luck with that question, perhaps you’ll realize something. (IE: non-white people can be greedy as fuck too, just like you’re greedy for attention)

    Pot. Kettle. Black. Seriously, stop fucking bitching and live your life. If you’re seriously spilling out pages over something like this, believe you me, you have head-trauma issues requiring urgent psychiatric consultation. There’s better use for your time, anger, emotion, etc. etc. etc. What’s next? Don’t call it sitting down Indian-style. Don’t even sit that way, you’re not allowed. Boy, somebody feels entitled. What a joke.

  • Forbidden Fruit

    This is the natural effect of living in the giant melting pot that is America. White girls bake in tanning beds and get skin cancer to look darker; black girls bleach their skin with dangerous chemicals to look lighter. Eminem takes over the rap world; Tiger Woods reigns in golf. People of all races dress up in sombreros and head dresses on Halloween and Cinco de Mayo. And the list goes on.

    Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. Everyone wants to be something they’re not, at least in some little way. Maybe when people stop viewing race as something to be proud of rather than something that just IS, we’ll all be less offended.

    Be proud of your achievements, not your race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. These are not accomplishments of which to be proud or ashamed any more than eye color or height.

  • Paulo Pincaro

    BTW-Those glasses belong to hipster chicks, you take those off right this second, that’s not part of your culture, you’re not allowed to wear it.

    What a joke you are.

  • Wendy Tobiassen

    Thank you for taking the time to write so elequently and sincerely from your heart and wisdom, your response, analysis and feeling about this young woman’s act of appropriation and ignorant arrogance. The response serves to highlight the continued state of violence and abuse still at play towards indigenous people of America, and the world. My heart resonates with your experience and I am deeply moved and saddened in recognition. I go to festivals in the Uk some of which are ‘world music’ festival. I have noticed in the past few years, that a trend has developed whereby middle class youth may purchase these head dresses to parade around the festivals in. I have always felt this to be very insulting and ignorant act of dis-respect. You have now moved me to action,, with your permission I would like to forward your letter and this story to the organisers of the festivals, along with my own supporting request and opinion that they no-longer allow the vendors to continue to sell them on there site. Bless you may justice be done. For all our relations <3 Wendy

  • Kate Bregman

    Wow, Adrienne! This is a beautifully written letter & as someone who has been personally victimized I am struck by the parallels between the way an individual abuser behaves & the way a societal abuser behaves. I have liked
    Native American – Honoring our Ancestors, Culture & Spirituality on FB in an effort to be a little less clueless & read about this incident on that page. I am horrified by how we, as a people, decimated the nations who were already here & that we would continue to shrug that behavior off with this sort of vile insensitivity is horrifying. Thank you for sharing your insight.

    • Nativehuman

      Is it really “vile insensitivity” to appreciate and celebrate something from another culture? Do you realize that every people group in the world has been treated
      Horribly by another people group at some point in history? Every day We
      All experience something of another culture more than you seem to
      realize. We eat foods from other cultures, we wear clothes that
      originated in other cultures, we wear jewelry from other cultures and we
      celebrate the traditions of other cultures…..Every day. In doing so
      the world becomes a little smaller, the propensity to understand each
      other happens and the opportunity to appreciate and respect other races
      is more likely to take place. Segregation has never been the answer. Going
      backwards into Segregation will not bring us together or bring more
      peace and love to the world. Moving forward into the colorful culture
      of the Human Race is the healthiest thing we can all do. If we get hung
      up on what is “Mine” and choose to get offended so easily by someone appreciating the beauty of another culture then moving forward
      will take a Very long time. There are Real “horrifying” things going on in the world right now, such as people killing each other and hating each other. Maybe Christina Fallin’s actions aren’t so “vile”. Maybe they are just a part of someone wanting to be closer to, and in celebration of, another culture.

    • Nativehuman

      I replied a couple of days ago and it seems to have been deleted…Anyway, I wanted to say, Every people group has been treated horribly by another people group at some point in history. Everyday we eat foods from other cultures, we wear clothes originating from other cultures and we share in the celebration of other cultures. Christina Fallin’s wearing of the Headdress was her way of displaying a part of the beauty that has come from the Native American heritage. You have the power to choose the idea that Christina was “vile and horrifying” or you have the power to know that she was only doing what can be beautifully Natural in the bringing together of many people groups….we share in the appreciation of each others culture. Segregation and being judgmental has never been the answer. Love, acceptance and celebration of each other is the answer.

  • Tamara G. Suttle, M.Ed., LPC

    Thanks, Adrienne, for continuing the education and the effort. I know it is exhausting and frustrating but some of us are listening and learning.

    By the way, I just nominated you for The Leibster Award ( It’s just a token of my appreciation for the work that you do and my way of introducing others to Native Appropriations.

  • JDH

    Lets talk about how acceptable it would be for a German with Nazi heritage to wear a star of David. Super trendy right? No?

    The difference there being that the Germans were less successful in their mission by several orders of magnitude.

    • merchantfan

      Let’s not try to measure whose genocide was worse. They were both really bad genocides. It would certainly be more widely recognized as being wrong.

    • SaveFearow

      Please do not play the ‘which minority had it worse’ game. Suffice to say, cultural appropriation hurts whatever group is targeted.

      I am a Jewish woman whose family was initially German. Most of my relatives came her in the 1930’s. Those who could not get passage to America (including 3 of my grandmother’s siblings) died in concentration camps. That history is recent enough to hurt me, just as Adrienne’s history is recent enough to hurt her.

      I have also felt the pain of not being recognized as enough of a minority to have my voice count (especially since I took my husband’s last name instead of the more obviously ethnic Fischer surname my father had.)

      My experience is not 100% comparable to what other people have lived through. Thankfully, there are no sports teams that insult my heritage, there are no award-nominated films where actors reduce my background to an inaccurate costume. Unfortunately, Native groups do struggle with those issues.

      But I do tend to find random Internet conversations (often started by Non-Jewish commentators) where Nazis, Gestapo, SS Men, Hitler, the Holocaust, etc. all are used to make a point, even when doing so was not necessary to further the discussion.

      Please, do not disrespect any culture by wearing clothing that has significance to a group that you are not a member of, and please do not make flippant remarks that belittle any culture.

      • JDH

        My comment was to offer perspective. The genocide of Jews is understood to be a horrible thing in Oklahoma, and American Christians generally feel some sort of deep spiritual bond with Israel.
        On the other hand, the genocide of the Natives is whitewashed as a matter of course because of misguided deification of the founders and the broken theology of manifest destiny.
        The collective American consciousness does not have the same sort of sensitivities towards the Native genocide as they have with the Jewish genocide (however insufficient those sensitivities may be). We do not have monuments and museums built to educate about the genocide. Revisionist American history erased the evil of the genocide for centuries. This is why we’re left with a void of respect for Native cultural icons.
        I’m trying to give some perspective to the legion of posters saying “get over it” because they are ignorant of exactly the level of disrespect on display here. I’m sorry you completely missed that.

        • SaveFearow

          I’m sorry I read it wrong. I definitely agree that there is a huge level of disrespect shown by telling offended people to get over it, or by treating another culture’s sacred outfits as costumes and props.

          You are right that Native tribes are generally given less respect than other minorities. That’s not fair either.

          You deserve to have proper memorials, to have a more complete history taught in public schools, to have Colombus Day removed as a holiday, and to have all the fake Urban Outfitters Navajo gear (that is not actually made by any Navajo) taken out of the stores.

          I am sorry I misinterpreted your post and I hope that in the future, Native history will be treated with more reverence from the average American person.

  • Matt

    Very well written Adrienne.

    I went to college with Christina at the University of Oklahoma where we both took an American History class taught by President Boren, himself, who taught not surprisingly imperial American history.

    Then I took a class on Native American Philosophy that changed my perspective of Native Americans forever; culturally, spiritually, and historically. I realized that history is taught by the victor, and that being victorious doesn’t mean being right. Native Americans in all various tribes were extremely diverse culturally, much like Europeans are culturally diverse.

    As the governor’s daughter she has been indoctrinated by our governors views, as you aptly called them, Western imperialism. The reason the “burden of proof” is on you, is because our culture remains arrogantly ignorant. A quick glance down the T.V. guide is all one needs to discover the truth of this.

    Our media rewards social ignorance in this country while intellect and education are portrayed as “uncool” and “nerdy”. So Adrienne, I’m sorry the burden is on you to be our teacher (di-de-yo-hv-s-gi), but as a culture we care little for other cultures… as much as that pains me to say. My generation is worse than the last and less educated by far.

    You speak about respect, but you’re words fall on deaf ears. My generation respects nothing that isn’t self-serving or materialistic. Things don’t have respect to us, they are to be used and thrown away, after all you can just get another one at Wal-Mart, why would we bother fixing anything. We have all the money we could ever want. Why would we bother learning about anything that doesn’t serve out own materialistic goals. You see we’ve been taught NOT to respect anything or anyone. We’ve been taught to be completely self-serving. We’ve never known real war, or real sacrifice. We’ve been served life upon a silver platter, and told over-and-over again that the world owes us something just for being alive.

    So please don’t be surprised when we dawn head-dresses in our own ignorance, we are uncontrolled children and there are no consequence for our rude, disparaging, and horrible actions, so we are never going to change.

    …and that is the sad but true state our generation is in. If you took away our iPhones and our internet and told us all to earn what we have, if you take away the silver spoons and sit us around a fire and teach us to listen and respect our elders like we should, you’d find a revolt on your hands the likes the world has never seen in the form of a giant temper tantrum!

    I truly am sorry for our culture, my generation, and our history with your remarkable people… but unfortunately as the only educated adult in the situation, it is up to you to show us the error of our ways, because I’m here to tell you the sad reality is that most of us just don’t care and never will, and that includes miss princess above who will NEVER give you a real apology.

    So on her behalf, I am sorry for our hurtful ignorance, and you have my word that I will continue to do as much as I can to educate my generation, but I’m also sorry to tell you all my efforts, and likely yours, are completely in vein. I’m sorry to say, that’s a close to an apology as you’ll likely get.

  • Griffin Kearns


    I will never understand why people in modern times choose to hold on to the grudges of their long dead ancestors rather than move forward with life.

    My people were persecuted and driven from their lands too; both the Irish and LDS. One is now depicted as a very famous angry cartoon icon representing a football team, the other is a highly insulting (and award winning) musical on and off of broadway. Then there’s the whole concept of your typical “run of the mill” clown makeup being a caricature of a drunken Irishman with an angry red nose, freckles, and bushy hair.

    Are y’all rolling your eyes yet? Me too.

  • disqus_sqTfBWnn57

    So anyone’s comment that disagrees with your POV will be deleted? So what you’re saying is it is never appropriate to use symbolism or aesthic based on a culture different from your own? Or is it just always inappropriate for white people? Isn’t it possible that people sometimes are actually inspired by other people? What is the alternative? No one ever does anything, eats anything, believes anything, or creates anything outside of their own culture? To me that seems like the opposite of progress… And exactly like segregation…

  • TheGodless

    This is what happens when you raise a child with religious right wing educational standards. Look up any Christian homeschooling or private school textbook and you will find a whitewashed version of Native American history which is meant to indoctrinate school kids with propaganda about how African Americans and Native Americans were actually blessed and made better by the horrible things the Europeans did to them. These textbooks use the current standard of living and modern conveniences as proof for how these people ultimately benefited from their contact with the Europeans.

  • Ann Vézina

    I feel that that young woman is not responsible for the ‘deculturation’ of native people and that her wearing a sacred disguise is by no means meant to be offensive. So now, does it mean that nobody could wear a costume? It is I saw some very interesting ‘hybrid’ contemporary art made by canadian natives. I don’t think they ‘diluted’ their roots with their art. We are in the 21 rst century, natives, whites, africans, everyone. Ancient cultures need recognition, ancestors are to be respected. But we are today, with the speed of images, the web connecting the whole globe. This is the reality. Everybody is now part of that culture. We play with images. There is no violence here but the brightness of the lipstick meant to be seductive and attractive. Here is one of those native artist that does incredible work: Kent Monkman.

  • Canda Fuqua

    When I was in college, one of my professors, a black woman, said she thinks it’s disrespectful for white people to dread their hair for the same reason. She spoke of the spiritual connection Rastas have to their dreadlocks, but also said it’s OK for non-Rastafarian black people to wear dreads just for aesthetics. Would it be disrespectful if a Native American wore a headdress just for aesthetics in the same way this woman did, totally disregarding the meaning behind it? Would it make a difference if this Native American appeared white or appeared Native American?

    I’m trying to come up with an analogous way in which someone would offend me or my culture as a white woman. My recent ancestors were Christian, Midwestern, cattle ranching homesteaders (who
    displaced Natives). Further back you could find them all over Europe, but I’m pretty far removed from that. Maybe I don’t value my culture or maybe because I’m part of the Imperial group, by definition my culture can’t be appropriated? Crosses are worn around people’s necks who aren’t Christian just for decoration, but I’m not so religious so it doesn’t offend me. I come from people who wear real cowboy boots and hats out of utility, so I think it’s silly when I see rubbery plastic-like boots made to look like cowboy boots sold at Target – but I’m not offended. I would be offended, however, if someone dressed up as crucified Jesus and ran around like an idiot as a mascot at a high school basketball game.

  • Nativehuman

    Do you realize that every people group in the world has been treated Horribly by another people group at some point in history? Every day We All experience something of another culture more than you seem to realize. We eat foods from other cultures, we wear clothes that originated in other cultures, we wear jewelry from other cultures and we celebrate the traditions of other cultures…..Every day. In doing so the world becomes a little smaller, the propensity to understand each other happens and the opportunity to appreciate and respect other races is more likely to happen. Segregation has never been the answer. Going backwards into Segregation will not bring us together or bring more peace and love to the world. Moving forward into the colorful culture of the Human Race is the healthiest thing we can all do. If we get hung up on what is “Mine” and choose to get offended then moving forward will take a Very long time.

  • Ashley Fenn

    my thought is that if a Jewish person can forgive a German for putting them in concentration camps years ago than why can’t we all get along and share the values equally? Growing up the main complaint was that “native Americans” wanted more compensation from society while cutting themselves off from outside influence…. nowadays we are no longer a single culture but a combination of culture and by working together we can accomplish much more than if we were to work separately… personally i feel that a young lady that wants to show that you can respect and revere another culture that is diffrent than her own should be celebrated not made to apologize. with more people out there like christina there would be less war and more peace and growth. the past is meant to be learned from, or you are doomed to repeat it and young people willing to open themselves to new outlooks on life are few and far between.

    • merchantfan

      I can forgive a German person whose family wasn’t involved in the Holocaust or who personally feels horror and regret about it. If I saw a German gentile ‘ironically’ wearing a concentration camp uniform or bar code, I’d want to kick their teeth out. Minorities have the right to speak up for themselves. Don’t put them down in the name of equality. Equality is when everyone has a voice, not when everyone is silent.

  • Ashley Fenn

    so you want to deny the ones who want to learn the true history because they are a different color? anyone know the word for that? nothing will change until we drop the whole color issue and see each other as what we are… FELLOW HUMANS!!!! plain and simple. I’m pretty sure that once you skinned a Black, Asian, Native, White (etc.) person that they will look the same so lets not let that be the next course of action to prove we are all EQUAL

    • I don’t recall saying anything about denying anybody anything. I believe all humans are created equal. But we are placed into a playing field that is far from level. And it’s simply blind not to acknowledge that. It’s even worse to rub it in the faces of the people who are born on the less-privileged end of the playing field through absolutely no fault of their own.

    • Johnnie Jae

      You’re right, we are HUMAN beings, which is why we should be able to treat each other’s cultural heritages with respect. No one is denying anyone the chance to learn about history, however if she really felt a deep connection to natives or had respect, she would never have donned a war bonnet. She would of known that it was sacred and not something that could be used as fashion accessory. We are all created equal, but equality does not give us the right to fetishize, appropriate, marginalize, caricaturize, or destroy another person’s cultural heritage.

    • are you saying that learning the “true history” involves wearing war bonnets?

  • arincrumley

    What did the native american’s do before they had the head dress?

    Without knowing actual details we can know at least a few essentials.
    There must have been a time prior to the head dress in which something else served their culture better. And then the head dress came along and the times changed. The head dress became a tool that was better then previous cultural mechanisms. It held meaning better. It’s meaning commanded respect more effectively. So it lasted and has survived even until today however it’s meaning is not the same in modern culture. Those who know the history and meaning can do their best to evangelize the past but times change and culture evolves. Culture is created by the whole and not by one node alone. But one node can make a big difference and of course that’s worthy and valid as a cause.

    The point is this. Does a horse pull a wagon or does a wagon push a horse?

    Culture exists as a tool for communication and understanding of ourselves and each other. Culture serves humans. Humans don’t serve culture.

    We’d be forever enslaved to old rituals, fashion and symbolism from thousands of years ago if we weren’t allowed to reinvent with every generation based on current values and cultural needs. Adrienne, you’re a powerful women. I know you want to pick and choose what parts of your heritage you carry forward and what parts you leave behind. This is good. Welcome to your generation. This is what only you can do. Those who have come before us would be completely lost at trying to filter and evolve old culture in light of modern times.

    Times change. Appropriation can not be stopped. It happens in language, in fashion, in story telling and in our imaginations.

    Culture regularly dies off. Look at every country in the world and you’ll see old traditions on the brink of extinction. One great thing the youth of today instinctively does is appropriate. Before something is completely gone for ever it would be nice if we integrated what still has value and relevance and should still be kept alive.

    Maybe it’s the headdress or maybe that’s just a first impulse. Maybe that is the start of a path for a greater understanding. I think we’d all like to know what native american wisdom, rituals and insights we could integrate into our lives before all is completely forgotten. Just like Yoga coming from India to enhance so many peoples lives and become completely modernized. Every previous culture has it’s secrets that we might all really need. What are they? Look we’re destroying the planet. Don’t tell me we don’t need native american wisdom that lived in this country thousands of years longer then us never dealign with any of the problems we’ve created in just a few centuries.

    The battles our forefathers fought were their battles. We were born as decedents of imperialism. Even those with completely native american blood are decedents of imperialism because at some point somewhere back in the chain of humanity there was one group dominating another. It’s an inescapable truth of our history as people. None of us would be here today if we didn’t have that history so we must simultaneously be proud but of course also ashamed and vow to do better. All emotions are valid but our strength is in transcending these facts so that they are not limiting our future.

    Imagine the lipstick she’s wearing is painted with the blood of those who died for her to have been born in a country where you can buy manufactured lipstick. Native American’s were brutally slaughtered by unaway Europeans & British who were breaking free from their own masters and had an uniformed view of the human potential. It’s awful and yet we all the same ingredients in us to come to the same conclusions ourselves if we didn’t know any better. The difference is our nurture. We have a new culture today that is spreading. One that respects all human life equally. That knows the science of how any human being has essential equal potential and therefor deserves a fair chance at realizing that potential for themselves but also as part of the collective.

    This new culture is one of awareness. One that is not in denial of the horrible acts that have handed us all our present privileges but is also not weakened by guilt of this fact.

    Has their been justice? Of course no amount of apology, guilt or depression can undo the atrocities.

    Genetics have revealed that all homo sapiens in Africa and all of those who left Africa descend from a very small group.

    Because of the internet where and conversations like this you we can sense we are returning to that same small group. Welcome home. Andrienne and Christina are on the same team.

    We have real problems today. Never mind the what happened in 18xx. Let’s save it for history lessons and let’s review it if we are at risk of history repeating but otherwise lets keep the past in the past.

    We’ve got a Christina who says she has the deepest respect for native americans and who is a member of a family who has signifigant power and if mixed with the right compassion could really get some things done. Adrienne is passionate leader with the motivation to help people and honor her heritage.

    I think the two should get together and practice forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves for being born into this place with this history and benefiting every day from murder and bloodshed this country is built on top of. Forgiving our ancestors for committing the choices they made. Forgiving ourselves for letting this history bring weight to our present lives. And forgiving those who carried out awful acts against us.

    The reason it’s worth forgiving is that we can then open up the space to create something new. We don’t have to be dealing with the problems that have plagued the past. There are solutions to all of them. We just need a clear mind to find the best path for how to implement the solutions and we need to work together as a team or we will fail as individuals.

    It starts with forgiveness.

    • Nativehuman

      Arin Crumley, Thank you so much for representing Awareness, love and forgiveness. This is the way of peace and the way to move forward and not back into racism and segregation. ALL races have been victims and ALL races have victimized. Let’s all move forward together and let our traditions serve us and not divide us. Thanks again Arin for sharing your wisdom….beautifully written.

  • pamina1

    In my opinion, the picture is not beautiful, the facial expression of the woman in it is not beautiful. The picture is offensive and disrespectful for the sake of fun and whimsy. But what else is new? This is common in the net, and it is good that someone is publishing a review of it. And that was not an ‘apology’ at all — which shows that respect for others is not a priority. They could at least have apologized for offending anyone, and then, say that they felt they were ‘innocently’ adorning themselves (that is, thoughtlessly and stupidly). This should not be let go. They have to understand what their actions mean. If anyone published a picture of a tatoo of a number reminiscent of Jewish holocaust survivors, even if this was just an ‘expression’ of angst, there would be a lot of uproar, and apologies would ensue. But the native American holocaust was bigger and lengthier than the one in Europe. This is the invisbile holocaust; do not let this go.

    • Nativehuman

      pamina1, A headdress was not a symbol given to Native Americans to wear by the oppressors such as a Jewish number tattoo. Christina Fallin was not making fun of the fact the Native Americans were treated horribly…just the contrary…..she was, in her way, celebrating the beauty of a part of Native American tradition….HUGE difference!

  • R.g. Reynolds

    I would like to invite her to the Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma City rocking that war bonnet complete with fake feathers, perched atop her bleached blonde noggin.

  • Frederick TheReckless Wilcox

    If you don’t want white people wearing your things, don’t sell your things to white people.

    If you don’t want cultural appropriation to be acceptable behavior it goes both ways, too, ya know, like the technology you use to complain and campaign… But I’m not going to whine about you doing that because frankly I don’t care.

    I don’t think it’s wrong for you to wear clothing made by White or Mexican or African or Chinese people employed in subpar manufacturing facilities in this country (which is still happening even if you buy American) owned and operated outside your reservation borders.

    I don’t give a damn that you buy groceries brought in to your reservation from outside the borders, grown by people all over the world, or that you might go off the reservation for sushi, or even that there may be a sushi restaurant near your home ON the reservation. (I have strong Japanese heritage- Mother’s side.) In short, I don’t care how you live your life as long as you harm no one.

    But there comes a time when you have to just stop letting things be a damned issue. A headdress. OK, was it a genuine warbonnet owned by a historically significant chief? Or some costume shop crap? Oh, right. It doesn’t matter because it’s YOUR culture. Never mind that everyone appropriates parts of other cultures every damned day, including YOU.

    I think it might do some good to get off the soapbox and look around, take in all the influences other cultures have had on shaping your everyday life. And then ask yourself again whether or not someone wearing some costume-shop or tourist market piece of crap is really worth that much jumping up and down and bitching and moaning about.

    • snakeguy

      Cultural appropriation is not any exchange of data, ideas or fashion. It is a very specific act of cultural violence by a dominate culture to a subjugated one. If you aren’t okay with a white girl dressing in black face and singing minstrels on tour, if you aren’t okay with a holocaust theme park in Germany (ride the train!!), if you aren’t okay with a ‘laugh at the dead Americans’ booth at Normandy, then you shouldn’t be okay with this.

      • Nativehuman

        Snakeguy, the only problem with your argument is Christina Fallin isn’t and wasn’t Laughing at dead Indians or making fun of the fact that Native American’s were treated horribly…..just the contrary. She mentioned that as she grows older she becomes more interested in knowing about and celebrating Native American culture….HUGE difference.

        • snakeguy

          Did you actually read the letter?

          • Nativehuman

            Of course, I did. Did you?

        • Terrie_S

          Would you wear military honors you’ve never earned? If you did, would you call it celebrating the military service of others?

          • Nativehuman

            There are those who have attempted to pull the wool over others eyes and present themselves as actual military with honors when they actually weren’t. This is the same as a lie. I would never wear military honors in order to convince someone that I’m actual military. My grandfather was in WWII and I know he would have been proud for me to respectfully wear one of his metals in honor of him while others are aware that I’m not actually the recipient of the metals.

            • Terrie_S

              What is being done by people like Christina Fallin is buying fake medals, or real medals from homeless desperate vets in the case of people getting ahold of real headdresses, and wearing them because it “looks cool.” Would you defend that as “celebrating” military service?

              • Nativehuman

                Of course the the headdress looks cool, or you could say beautiful or you could say regal, or you could say earthy, or you could say ethereal. There are many words to describe the headdress. It seems that you are trying to judge Christina Fallin in a negative way by using the words “looks cool.” How can you judge what was in Christina’s heart and mind as she wore the headdress? I believe that only the creator knows what is in each person’s heart and wearing a headdress or feathers alone should be the least of anyone’s concern….Especially when there are actual atrocities taking place in the world, people hating and killing each other. Christina’s appreciation for the beauty of a part of Native American culture is far from fitting into the atrocity category.

                • Terrie_S

                  I don’t care if she calls it a winged monkey made of gold. She has not earned the right to wear it. A headdress is earned, not a fashion statement.

                  • Nativehuman

                    Feathers and arranging them in a beautiful way has been around since the beginning of time….And I believe loving other human beings trumps the importance of anything physical in this world such as clothing, cars, buildings, symbols, feathers arranged in a certain way, wearing the “right” clothes, wearing the “right” shoes, and even traditions set up to serve human beings. Traditions were and aren’t created so that we should serve the tradition….the tradition is created to serve people. Once tradition becomes a means for dehumanizing another human being it is not serving any people group as intended.

      • Frederick TheReckless Wilcox

        We used to have other names for the fight against cultural appropriation.

        Xenophobia and segregation for example.

        Your argument is invalid.

  • R.g. Reynolds

    I want to connect my moccasin clad size 13 to her a**

  • Nancy

    I always say that taking offense is a choice. You can choose not to be offended, too! It is less stressful, I think.

  • ThisGuyRightHere

    How about we try not being offended by something, just this once?

    • Terrie_S

      I’d rather have people try not to be offensive for a change.

  • Ruth Swaney

    Can’t even get my comment posted and “ThisGuyRightHere” plays the “try not being offended” card. Nothing riles me up more than anybody telling me how to feel, or how not to feel! Sometimes we can’t even explain our own feelings so quit trying to appease yours by telling me not to have mine. With that said–thanks very much, Adrienne. Christina’s picture is a joke. I never heard of her until now. Unfortunately for her, she’s too unintelligent for me to want to know.

  • Dale Mulkey

    I’m more offended by her generalization of all white people being the same then I am some vapid female wearing a production line store bought head dress. Maybe she needs to learn a little bit of history and intelligence herself


    First, I find it interesting when people criticize, condemn, and complain about people they identify as “White” and place themselves on a pedestal as being
    “White” and “Native”. In reality, they must be confused about their own identity. From my perspective, our identity comes from land/community, language, sacred history, and ceremony. So, cut the mumbo jumbo about being “Cherokee”, “Native”, “Indian”, or any “tribal member” unless you are mindful and respectful of others’ thoughts and actions. Most importantly, show a spirit of love and understanding. Then, take a look at your “White/Native” cultural misappropriation. Perhaps, the “Whites” find it offensive that you as a “Native” have adopted “White” cultural practices. Perhaps, as a tsalagi, I find it offensive that some people drag our dead ancestors from their graves and portray them as mere hapless, “powerless” victims of the “Whites” (totally, misrepresentative and culturally inappropriate for “Whites” and “Natives”). Cultures are dynamic and the thought of owning them is troubling. Furthermore, the ownership of Native culture mimics the privatizing logic of major “White” corporations and becomes legally problematic in “White” and “Native” Courts.

  • philapton

    There is a lot wrong with miss Fallins letter,the part that is getting me is the last paragraph. Comes off as a poor justification to appropriate another culture by playing the feminist card. I might be off base here but sounds like they are portraying themselves as “brave” and “heroic” by putting on a “men’s only headress” on to a pretty girl, as if the culture is male dominated and sexist. Seriously comes off that way to me, like she is making a big step for native women.

  • gmo2ashes

    While it is certainly tragic how tribes in the Americas were killed and removed from their lands, the larger picture is that we are all Palestinians today, being occupied at all levels of the control hierarchy by a demonic group, Khazarian Jews.

  • Frederick TheReckless Wilcox

    In case there is anyone left picking this apart, allow me to point out the one thing I am surprised no one addressed (or not, since it’s highly inconvenient to the argument)…

    You can say this is a cultural issue all you like, citing that it is a white person wearing a Native American Warbonnet. But you fail here…

    You conveniently address only the race of the wearer. Because to be truly culturally correct the article she is wearing is also traditionally and strictly reserved for MEN to wear. But to call her out on that is to tip your hat to male privilege, right?

    To be correct in your stance against cultural appropriation, you must call out all of them. To call out only the ethnic background of the wearer is a racial issue in which you’re being xenophobic. To call out only the gender is sexist. All or none. Choose. There is no way of being right in this except to perhaps decide it’s not worth the fight.

    • philapton

      Addressing the persons race alone should be enough when you put it in context. I’m not the kind to just treat every white person I know or see with attitude because of our history. I always give people a chance to show they are a decent human being before passing judgment. However, when it comes to cultural and racial sensitivity, your damn rights I hold white people to a different standard because of our shared history.
      If by now, a girl who’s mother is the governor and claims to admire us natives so much can’t stop and think for a second on whether or not this is insensitive, then she deserves the criticism and especially the education that comes here way.

      Most of us never ask for to be coddled and we hate being dismissed, though those seem to be the common way to address natives these days. All we ever want is to have peoples consideration and sensitivity when it comes to our culture or our history.
      If my white friends never bring up the topic of our race, I would never have a problem with that. If one of them were to wear a headdress for Halloween without questioning himself or me on whether its appropriate, then I might smack him.
      Its all about being self aware and sensitive to your fellow human.

    • there is no history of women systematically violating the bodies and cultures of men so you are making a false equivalency.

      • Frederick TheReckless Wilcox

        No. I am not. I am pointing out your hypocrisy. Good day.

        • you’re pointing out a false hypocrisy. whether a native american woman wears a war bonnet has nothing to do with cultural appropriation or perpetuating violence against native americans. there would still be cultural appropriation if a white man were wearing a war bonnet. they are separate issues and come from completely different sets of circumstances. a native american woman wearing a warbonnet is kind of like a jewish woman wearing payot. it is a disregard of that culture’s customs by people IN that culture. that is not the same as cultural appropriation AT ALL and has no place in this discussion besides as derailment.

  • Dana L Jones

    We have many tribal dancers in our family. We take pride in being “NATIVE AMERICAN”!!! We had (RIP) a chief, our indian princess and many dancers. I myself have regalia and dance. Alot of my family dances and we celebrate our culture as our ancestors did. We all have indian names that was given to us by our elders before they passed. With that being said I feel enraged about what this woman has done in disrespecting MY culture. White people have disrespected us for centuries and it seems that it will continue until the world ends. She put on a headdress knowing damn good and well it was offensive, this tells me that she was not raised to respect someone else’s culture and hertiage.Seriously if you think about it how many times are the Native people disrespected. White people making cheap looking headdress, costume jewerly to look like native turquoise, dream catchers that are meant to help and whites making them look like crap by putting fake fur, fake feathers and fake sinu and not knowing the true purpose for a dream catcher, oh and lets not forget Everyone is trashing MOTHER EARTH taking and taking from her and not giving back to her. All of this is for the love of money! Not counting the derogatory remarks that people make that is offensive to Native people. Yet people cry for equaltiy and respect and forget what was done to the Native people!!!

  • Dana L Jones

    We have many tribal dancers in our family. We take pride in being “NATIVE AMERICAN”!!! We had (RIP) a chief, our indian princess and many dancers. I myself have regalia and dance. Alot of my family dances and we celebrate our culture as our ancestors did. We all have indian names that was given to us by our elders before they passed. With that being said I feel enraged about what this woman has done in disrespecting MY culture. White people have disrespected us for centuries and it seems that it will continue until the world ends. She put on a headdress knowing damn good and well it was offensive, this tells me that she was not raised to respect someone else’s culture and hertiage.Seriously if you think about it how many times are the Native people disrespected. White people making cheap looking headdress, costume jewerly to look like native turquoise, dream catchers that are meant to help and whites making them look like crap by putting fake fur, fake feathers and fake sinu and not knowing the true purpose for a dream catcher, oh and lets not forget Everyone is trashing MOTHER EARTH taking and taking from her and not giving back to her. All of this is for the love of money! Not counting the derogatory remarks that people make that is offensive to Native people. Yet people cry for equaltiy and respect and forget what was done to the Native people!!!

    • Nativehuman

      Dana, Every day We
      All experience something of another culture more than you seem to
      realize….Even you. You eat foods from other cultures, you wear clothes that
      originated in other cultures, you wear jewelry from other cultures, and it looks as though you are wearing a haircut that comes from another culture, not original to your own. We
      all celebrate the traditions of other cultures…Every day. In doing so
      the world becomes a little smaller, the propensity to understand each
      other happens and the opportunity to appreciate and respect other races
      is more likely to happen. Segregation has never been the answer. Going
      backwards into Segregation will not bring us together or bring more
      peace and love to the world. Moving forward into the colorful culture
      of the Human Race is the healthiest thing we can all do. You have the power to choose to be offended or you can choose to see it as it Really is and know that the majority of people making or wearing Native American items are doing so out of admiration for their beauty. How do you know the heart of Christina Fallin as she wore the Headdress? I believe the only one who knows the heart of anyone is the Creator. I believe the Creator is the only one who knows Your heart as you wear clothing from other cultures, not original to your own. If we get hung
      up on what is “Mine” and choose to get offended then moving forward
      will take a Very long time. You have the power to choose to be offended or the power to choose to live and love Everyone of Every culture as we All share our different heritage with each other.

  • onefatdad

    The topic should lead to AUTHENTICITY. Perhaps the “expert/s” on white girls in headdresses are too narrow minded to realize she/he/they are by no means qualified
    to speak on the topic with validity. Let us hear from those who can speak with authority on the matter. Let us hear from “EXPERT INDIANS” in lieu of “Indian experts”. Too often, White/Native people speak on Native American issues only to promote their own agendas. Consequently, they speak in terms of “we”, “Native American culture”, and “values” only to bring shame and reproach to the real Indians. The premise of Native American life is to perpetuate and sustain culture, and you are not going to accomplish that endeavor from afar. The perpetuation and sustainment of culture takes place in the community/territory/reservation. From the community, copycats and mimickers of culture are not considered a threat (we know the difference), only laughable. The threats are those who claim to be one, or part, of us and WE KNOW THEM NOT. They perpetuate and sustain stereotypes and cultural

  • Shaydlynn Arnold

    You’re blaming a child of the present for the past. And some of us mean no harm to anybody of any culture. Either it is lack of knowledge or knowledge that wasn’t the truth. Also for you to not welcome us,to not give us true knowledge, to teach us about your culture and of the past that come to where your are today is saying you are no better than the “white people” who walked this earth years before us. You could have welcomed her to learn instead you blasted her on the internet.

    • philapton

      People must seek out knowledge if they choose to claim reverence for native culture. There have been many who have tried and introduce new text for schools to educate, with no success. Are we supposed to run up to strangers on the street and shove our culture down their throat?
      Also, with Adrienne always leaves the opportunity for people to learn and educate themselves

  • onefatdad

    This was my post from a couple of days ago (don’t know if it was deleted, lost, due to website construction, or, just too strong of good medicine).
    First, I find it interesting when people criticize, condemn, and complain about people
    they identify as “white” and place themselves on a pedestal as being “white” and “Native”. In reality, they must be confused about their own identity. From my perspective, our identity comes from land/community, language, sacred history, and ceremony. So, cut the mumbo jumbo about being “Cherokee”, “Native”, “Indian”, or any “tribal member” unless you are mindful and respectful of others’ thoughts and actions. Most importantly, show a spirit of love and understanding. Then, take a look at your “White/Native” cultural misappropriation. Perhaps, the “Whites” find it offensive that you as a “Native” have adopted “White” cultural practices. Perhaps, I find it offensive that some people drag our dead ancestors from their graves and portray them as mere hapless “powerless” victims of the “Whites”. Finally, the thought of owning culture is troubling The ownership of native culture mimics the privatizing logic of major “White” corporations and becomes legally problematic in “White” Courts.

  • John

    Bad things happened to the ancestors of every people. Those enjoying the most success today are the ones that didn’t have an audience that would suffer any guilt trips about it after it happened. That is a fact. No one living today had anything to do with what you are whining about. No one is being forced to live here. You can get a job, save your money and move anywhere you want. You enjoy the freedom to whine about trivial crap like this because the hard working tax payers of this nation tolerate it. Cultural stuff of people’s history throughout the world almost always becomes fashion at some point. You should take it as an opportunity to educate people about things you care about instead of trying to make them feel stupid, beneath you and guilty. That is why you get all the stupid excuses, because you make them feel guilty about being born white, as if they had a choice in that or in the actions of people living more than a century ago. Get some perceptive. Shame on you for being so cruel and berating.

    • onefatdad

      Often, those that squawk about race, class, and social issues are those whom are aspiring to embellish their careers and monetary gain. Rarely, do you see or hear of them working in the communities they confess to represent and serve.

  • onefatdad

    After making two valid posts in regards to the issue at hand and having them deleted, one can not but help from questioning the integrity and worthiness of Native Appropriations. donadagohvi kila

    • Adrienne_K

      All of your “valid posts” just served to question my identity, “authenticity,” and commitment to my community. That is not the “issue at hand.” I’ve been writing this blog for four years, feel free to go back into the archives and see how often I’ve had to deal with these critiques, and how I respond to them. I don’t feel the need to do so again. Especially from other Native people, it is tiring and upsetting. I’m perfectly willing to let critiques of my writing and ideas stand (see some of the comments here), but my identity is not up for discussion. Wado.

      • onefatdad

        Thanks, for joining the discussion. As humans, everyone deserves to be recognized, respected and reciprocated. I trust you are who you say you are, however, being “Native and white simultaneously” does not give you license to practice and perpetuate cultural relativism (belief cultures cannot be judged based on the standards of another), on the one hand. Then, on the other hand, being “Native and white simultaneously” does not give you license to practice and perpetuate ethnocentrism (belief that one ethnic group or nation is superior to other and that its values and actions are superior). While, one theory leads to a road of peace and understanding, the other theory leads to a road of strife and oppression. Which road is of good spirit? Which road is of bad spirit? Furthermore, which road is of traditional Native American
        philosophy and which road is of traditional Eurocentric/white philosophy?
        In short, your letter is mean-spirited, undiplomatic and unbecoming of a Native American.
        Cultural appropriation is the burden of those whom are qualified to declare it as appropriate or inappropriate. We, as Cherokees, are
        no more qualified to speak publicly about the cultural appropriation of “whites” wearing Comanche headdress than they are qualified to speak publicly on Cherokees wearing turbans or the disenrollment of tribal members. Shall it be permissible for us to interfere with the culture and tradition of other nations?
        As mentioned earlier (Removed), the ownership of culture is very problematic because it mimics the privatizing logic of major “White” corporations (Eurocentric thought) and becomes legally problematic in “White” Courts.
        Please, understand my posts were not meant to upset. I know what it’s like to go through the “identity” drill, being Native, and surviving in two worlds. Respectfully Submitted

        • Your point is flawed. Her letter makes no claims of cultural relativism or ethnocentrism. Her examples were mere statements of fact. You state a claim that it is up to the individual tribes to deem whether an act is offensive. The very concept of such an ideal is moronic. Such acts and beliefs have been used consistently and with great efficacy through out American history in regard to Native cultures and land. It was not uncommon for the United States government to pit us against one another, and continuing such a practice has the same desired result.
          Christina Fallin insulted the culture and heritage of every tribe that wears a headdress in any level of significance. In insulting those tribes, she insults all tribes. Reminding each of us that our history doesn’t matter. Reminding those of us who do not speak our native tongue how it was stripped and beaten from us until we could not longer speak. It is a reminder of the burns on our great-grand parents, our grand parents, and our parents backs.
          The Sovereignty of each tribe must be upheld for each nation to direct its people in how they see fit. This is a point that cannot be denied, but it is wholly uncomparable to standing up to an insult and appropriation of cultural history. One is the choice of a nation exercising its sovereignty, while the other is an individual mocking the spiritual and historical significance of a tribe’s culture.
          As Native Americans, it is our responsibility to stand together and united against any level of appropriation, against any policy or practice that harms us, and against all forms of degradation. For without uniting together, we will ultimately fall apart.

          • onefatdad

            Timothy, point flawed? I never said the author’s statements were not facts; however, do you think it was necessary? Do you think Christina cared? Do you think she cares more, now? The author uses historical references to portray how the “whites” found Native American culture to be offensive. Then, she uses modern technology to condemn “whites” for offending the culture of another tribe. Some people call that “speaking with a forked tongue”. The author is not in authority to bring the matter to light. Show respect and let those in authority come forward. Has anyone thought that someone in authority on the matter is reading the blog, thinking “what a bunch of fools”? Tribal culture is not for public display and dissection. Tribal culture is to perpetuated and sustained by tribal members, for the benefit of the tribe, and not the media. For the most part, tribal members are obligated to their own individual tribes, to no fault of the government. The tribes were in conflict against each other
            before the Europeans arrived, for conflict has always been rooted in who has authority, or over territory.
            The idea of individual tribes should deem whether an act is offensive, as moronic? Do you think we should flood the market, internet, and reality television with the blood of our ancestors, sacred ceremonies, origin stories, oral histories, and medicines? Individual tribal matters are, for the benefit of tribal members, to be handled by tribal elders and leaders and NOT OTHER tribes. For instance, do you think the Kiowa supported the Comanche adoption of Johnny Depp and support of The Lone Ranger? Guess what, it was
            NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. I know many Kiowa who found the matter laughable (good Indian humor), however, no Kiowa made a public display of the matter. Why? It
            was a Comanche tribal matter. Have you ever wondered why some tribes have Owl Clans/symbols/etc., and then, other tribes consider owls/the same symbols/etc. as evil and insulting? Do not think for one moment that all tribal beliefs, customs and practices are equivalent in nature. Do you want to maintain your comment that to bring insult upon one tribe “insults all tribes”? No, I think not.
            Categorically, Christina insulted herself.
            Quasi-sovereignty is the common thread that runs through Indian Country; however, we are domestic dependent nations under the authority of Congress. Do you really believe “As Native Americans, it is our responsibility to stand together?” Are you aware of the tribes that have lost their federal recognition, or, have never been federally recognized, right under the noses of all the other tribes? Again “we are domestic dependent nations.” Each tribe is not only unique in their histories, ceremonies, traditions, and values, we are of different politics. I myself would like to see all the tribes come together in accord; however, there is still
            a lot of “bad blood” between many. Let’s face it, in the future, we may lose our tribal sovereignty; however, INDIANS BY BLOOD AND SPIRIT WILL ALWAYS BE INDIANS.
            The “whites” are not going to bring about the demise of Native American culture. The future of tribal culture lies in the hands of those obligated to perpetuate and sustain it. The Cherokee cannot perpetuate and sustain the culture for other tribes, no more than the other tribes for the Cherokee. kila

            • I have a general rule that I do not address fallacies of logic, so I will take the item that is fallacious and state the most appropriate fallacy next to it. I leave the onus on you entirely to figure out why it is stated fallacy.

              “The tribes were in conflict against each other before the Europeans arrived, for conflict has always been rooted in who has authority, or over territory.” -Association Fallacy
              “The idea of individual tribes should deem whether an act is offensive, as moronic? Do you think we should flood the market, internet, and reality television with the blood of our
              ancestors, sacred ceremonies, origin stories, oral histories, and medicines?” -Strawman

              “Individual tribal matters are, for the benefit of tribal members, to be handled by tribal elders and leaders and NOT OTHER tribes.”

              This is a fallacious statement, but I can’t think of the fallacy or find it. I never stated tribal matters weren’t for tribal member, elders, and leaders to cover. I stated she insulted every tribe by insulting the cultures and beliefs of those tribes that wear headdresses. You still have not refuted my claim.

              “For instance, do you think the Kiowa
              supported the Comanche adoption of Johnny Depp and support of The Lone Ranger?
              Guess what, it was NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. I know many Kiowa who found the matter laughable (good
              Indian humor), however, no Kiowa made a p ublic display of the matter. Why? It was a Comanche tribal matter.” -False Analogy

              “Have you ever wondered why some tribes have Owl Clans/symbols/etc., and then, other tribes consider
              owls/the same symbols/etc. as evil and insulting? Do not think for one moment that all tribal beliefs, customs and practices are equivalent in nature.”

              Why would I wonder about things I already know? This is some kind of weird weak Ad Hominem

              “Do you want to maintain your comment that to bring insult upon one tribe “insults all tribes”?”

              Yes and you still haven’t refuted my claim.

              “Are you aware of the tribes that have lost their federal recognition, or, have never been federally recognized, right under the noses of all the other tribes?”

              Two Wrongs Make a Right.

              “The author uses historical references to portray how the “whites” found Native American culture to be offensive. Then, she uses modern technology to condemn “whites” for offending the culture of another tribe.”

              We are American Indians, not Luddites.

              “The author is not in authority to bring the matter to light. Show respect and let those in authority come forward. Has anyone thought that someone in authority on the matter is
              reading the blog, thinking “what a bunch of fools”? Tribal culture is not for public display and dissection. Tribal culture is to perpetuated and sustained by tribal members, for the benefit of the tribe, and not the media. For the most part, tribal members are obligated to their own individual tribes, to
              no fault of the government.”

              If tribal culture is not for public display and dissection, than an individual not of that tribe wearing a piece of tribal culture for display and dissection would be insulting that tribe. More than one tribe uses the headdress. She didn’t just appropriate from a single tribe. She appropriated from a lot of them. Again it is a reminder of the historical appropriation and devaluation of Native people, thus it insults all American Indians.

              “Some people call that ‘speaking with a forked tongue’.”
              This quote is last, because I found it unsettling. I have only ever heard this as an insult, usually from the mouth of a bigot, and usually in this context “White man speakum with forked tongue.” So I am going to have to question your credibility at this point. How exactly are you Cherokee?

  • Kathy Borst

    Powerful argument. Love the idea of presenting an action plan. Uber love “actual apology, something that says you’re sorry you were hurtful, not that you’re sorry others were hurt.” Will steal the action plan idea. Listening – something the whole world does little of and would benefit from so much. We are so smug with our smart ripostes about everything under the sun which give the appearance of having listened, and put us instead of the issue at the center of the argument.

  • Walt nunya

    the indians are making these head dresses and selling them to white people and then bitching about them wearing them. hey, dumbasses! you dont want white people to wear your shit, stop selling your shit to them. AND stop bitching about your ancestors suffering and abuse. You were not alive when all that shit happened. you weren’t there. get over it. whiners!

  • Kristen Rosser

    I really don’t understand all the argument here. I’m a white person. The way I understand it, if someone says, “You’re hurting me,” the only appropriate response is to say, “I’m sorry,” and desist from the hurtful behavior– not to explain why the person shouldn’t be hurt or insist that you have a right to keep hurting them.

    This is just common courtesy and do-unto-others ethics.

  • Kristen Rosser

    This seems besides the point. “I bullied Billy, but then Billy went and bullied Joe, so I shouldn’t have to listen to Billy when he says I bullied him” isn’t how it works.

  • Ellen

    A part of this is the almost complete failure of “our” educational system. I’ve long felt that educating middle school and high school kids about the genocide that occurred here in North America was crucial to their development as thinking adults. It’s key to understanding this country. We can better understand social justice issues and how oppression works when we know this history. “We” (white people) see tiny glimpses of your culture, but have very little understanding. The difference between a “pretty thing” and a sacred cultural object is vast, but many people just don’t think it out. I get it that its offensive, but probably would not have given it much thought until now; thanks for your article.

  • Nativehuman

    Very well put!

  • Alexis D

    Oh, man. That was a terrible apology. Seriously terrible. We need what’s left of the native cultures our European ancestors (and too many of their children, still, today) methodically eradicated. We need them desperately. But this isn’t the way to try and bring them back. Talk about a tin ear.

  • ArkMama

    I hear you and your pain, but I think it is a bit misplaced here.

    While you tell ‘us’ not to lump all Natives together, you lump all whites together. While you have pain that you were denied connection to your land and spiritual practices, you deny others who feel a connection to it to share a connection if they do not look ‘like you’. While you tell us ‘we’ do not understand your culture and try to express your heart, you judge her without knowing her intent for taking the photo or are willing to hear her heart explain. While you have many reasons to have wounds from your history, you do not see that many of us share in the sadness of what has happened. But what you do not see is that your reactions are often the other side of the Colonial Coin that activate victim mentality, and that serve no one.

    There is a real opportunity here for you to educate people, but also look within. Just as you are not responsible for all Nations or Tribal Councils, most white people are not responsible for what our government did or is / is not doing now. Many of us do want to understand and are already helping your cause.

    Perhaps it would have been better to begin the conversation more honestly, -it hurt us when you did this and here is why without all the personal attacks, without all the blaming for what has happened, without the innuendos that were are ignorant white men and women. This is what was done to you by others and for that many of us are sorry, but many of us were not those people. Many of us understand, identify and are working to spread the word with you for what has happened and what needs to happen to make things better. You need to take some accountability for your actions too. I say this only with love.

    Every relationship is a mirror and unless both / all sides can be accountable to look into it and realize WE ARE ALL CO-CREATORS, not passive participants in creating the world we want, nothing will change.

    I work with a Native Nation and it is hard for me to hear the victim mentality language. You have power and knowledge that the Modern World needs, and you will not reach it or be able to share it if you are living in the victim realm. You have many people standing by to be your foot soldiers who are not caught up in the distinction of Native or Non-Native. Can we move forward please and direct the anger more positive directions?

  • Wani

    Wasn’t that the core, the main reason for the ‘blood quantum’ deal? If we couldn’t be forced into assimilation, we could see our Nations wiped out when that old BQ got so low that Tribes could be called “extinct”, could be erased? It was a good plan, for after those first couple hundred years after Manifest Destiny kicked in, we could either inbreed or marry out…Capitalism, as some suggest, has nothing to do with it except that today we see about 500 State recognized ‘Cherokee Tribes’, tribes that anyone with $45 or $60 can buy into…Most are 501K ‘organizations’, and all mix cultures. Toss on those hot pink buckskins, a warbonnet, throw up a sweatlodge or a sun pole, and call y’self a Cherokee. Don’t forget those flutes, medicine cards and mandalas! Surely by now there must be more ‘Cherokees’ than there are sands by the sea? Or maybe Sioux? They’re mighty popular, too. Sorry, I get a bit passionate. I am very happy to have found this website.

  • Kristina

    I completely agree that it is offensive to wear the war bonnet shown above as it is sacred and there are rules as to who and when someone within that specific tribe can wear this item. I also see on this site where you are unhappy with Juliette Lewis for wearing the feather headband which was more of a fashion statement. The following quote is from

    “…both men and women wore headbands, which were not associated with war. The number and type of feather did not usually have special symbolic meaning, though in a few tribes that bordered the Plains eagle feathers were reserved for warriors. For the most part, Woodland Indian head bands were worn for their beauty, and were often decorated with intricate patterns, wampum, beads, and quillwork.”

    It would seem then that the argument against wearing the head band is that it is cultural appropriation by the dominant group. This does make sense on some level, but I find it dubious in logic as over the centuries most cultures have intermixed at different times adopting and/or trading different items. For example I am of northern european decent and romans colonized us and took our pagan rituals and made them their own ie Christmas in Dec, the Christmas tree, etc. and forced Christianity upon us. Should I still be angry at the Vatican for changing my ancestors beliefs? Stop non-whites from having a Christmas tree? The other problem I have is the idea that only whites are imperialists. Tell that to the Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, etc that were invaded in WW2 by the Japanese who considered themselves racially superior. Tell that to the Africans that were invaded by the persian empire and the arab cultures that were invaded by the Mongols and tell that to the Tibetans and Taiwanese as they are currently occupied they the imperialist Chinese.

    I am fully aware that I have white privilege in the society we live in today there is no denying that. I just think that in our modern world it is very hard to know where the lines are drawn as to what is on or off limits to a different culture. Should companies that are not Christian be allowed to print t-shirts and make jewelry that contain crosses? I wouldn’t see anything wrong with a non-Christian wearing a bible quote that they felt was meaningful even if they were not Christian. Would the same be true of a quote from Buddha? Can you practice yoga if you are not Hindu? I was given a Muslim evil eye by a friend (he is from Turkey) that I have on display at my house is this something I should take down as a non-muslim? It was a gift from a friend. This is where the problem lies. One member of a group might give you a gift from their culture as a way to share, but someone else might see you with it and be offended that you not of their culture have it while your friend might later be offended that you don’t display/wear their gift…Since more and more people are of mixed race (which is really a social construction anyway as we are all the same biologically) it is hard for one to look at someone wearing a specific cultural item and know whether they are a part of said culture or not. (not referring to the war bonnet here)