Christina Fallin’s band sparks controversy with performance at Norman Music Festival

By Jerry Wofford, Tulsa World

Christina FallinA performance by Christina Fallin, daughter of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, at the Norman Music Festival Saturday drew criticism from many, including the governor herself.

Many interpreted the provocative performance by her band Pink Pony, which included a cape or shawl with the word “sheep” drawn on the back, as offensive to Native Americans. It comes less than two months after Christina Fallin drew criticism from several groups for a photo of her wearing a Native American-style headdress.

“On Saturday night, while performing at the Norman Music Festival, my daughter acted in a way that I believe was inappropriate,” Gov. Fallin said in a statement Monday. “While she will always be my daughter and I love her very much, I don’t approve of her behavior on that night or that of her band. I have communicated that to Christina.

“I have great respect for Oklahoma’s tribal members and I celebrate their traditions and culture. As governor, I work in hand in hand with tribal leaders on everything from disaster response to economic development. Tribal governments are important partners to our state government, and I value the good relationships my administration has cultivated with them.”

Fallin spent most of Monday touring tornado damage in Quapaw, where one person was killed when an EF-2 tornado struck the town Sunday.

The band posted a lengthy statement Monday afternoon saying “nothing about our performance was connected in any way to Native American culture” and apologized to those who were offended.

Christina Fallin’s band, Pink Pony, performed at midnight Saturday and posted earlier in the day on the band’s Facebook page: “I heard Pink Pony was wearing full regalia tonight.” The band clarified it was meant as a response to the rumors they themselves were hearing, though nothing was planned.

Samantha Crain, a singer based in Shawnee, said the earlier photo and what she felt like was a “non-apology” to the headdress stir led to her and others wanting to express frustration with the actions.

“What I was originally hoping could happen was we could talk to them and let them know how we felt before it even happened,” Crain said.

With the offending photo and the Facebook post the day of the show, Crain said that the Native American community needed to peacefully respond.

“Whether it was a publicity stunt or not, we needed to rally together,” Crain said.

Several people gathered to the side of the stage as the show began holding signs that read, “Don’t tread on my culture” and “I am not a costume” among others, according to accounts. According to the website reddirtreport.com, which posted one protester’s account of the protest, and video posted to YouTube of the performance, the author said it appeared Fallin was wearing a Native American-inspired “shawl” with the word “Sheep” written on the back.

The statement from Pink Pony read that it was “in no way a Native American shawl. It was not designed to look like one.” The word “sheep” on the back refers to those who “blindly follow sensationalist yellow journalism rather than the truth,” the statement read.

Norman Music Festival chair Gene Bertman said in a statement Monday that the festival was unaware of what the band’s performance would include.

“The Norman Music Festival does not support the actions of Pink Pony, and in particular Christina Fallin, at our festival on Saturday night. We had no prior knowledge of the performance content, and we oppose her use and depiction of American Indian artifacts and symbols,” Bertman said. “We certainly understand that these actions do nothing but promote racism, cultural discrimination and religious discrimination. The Norman Music Festival is here to support artists and bring people together — not divide them. We apologize to anyone who was offended.”

The band said in the statement that “it was not our intention to offend anyone.

“Nothing about our performance at the Norman Music Festival was in any way designed to offend anyone,” the statement read. “We hope that people will do their own research before jumping to conclusions or believing the lies being fed to them.”

Crain said the protesters tried to remain to the side of the stage as to not disrupt the show, but at some points the crowd began to taunt them.

“It was very clear from the beginning we were there for a silent protest,; we weren’t there to disrupt the show in any way,” Crain said. “The beginning of it was fine. But they kind of started taunting us from the stage and got the crowd to flip us off and yell at us.”

At the end of the performance, Crain said she felt that overall their presence had some positive aspects.

“I felt like it was positive,” Crain said. “People were looking at the signs and asking questions.”

William Shelton revived Tulalip culture

J.A. Juleen's portrait of Tulalip artist and activist William Shelton was taken in 1913.

J.A. Juleen’s portrait of Tulalip artist and activist William Shelton was taken in 1913.

By Bill Sheets, The Herald

TULALIP — When it came to healing the rift between local Indian tribes and the white world that once stripped Snohomish County’s original inhabitants of much of their culture, there has been no more important figure than William Shelton.

Early in the 20th century, Shelton worked hard to restore and preserve early tribal traditions that had been banned on the Tulalip Indian Reservation for decades.

At the same time, he offered an olive branch to the non-tribal community, reaching out to speak at club meetings and schools. He attended fairs and gave radio interviews.

He served as an ambassador, a liaison between the two worlds.

A Tulalip tribal member, a historian and a filmmaker recently joined forces in hopes of making a documentary to spotlight Shelton’s effect on local tribal and non-tribal culture alike.

“I really think that people need to know about William Shelton,” said Lita Sheldon, the tribal member spearheading the project.

Her goal, she said, is to make an hour-long documentary to air on the History channel, Biography channel or PBS.

Sheldon, along with Everett-based historian David Dilgard and Bellingham video producer Jeff Boice, started the project in 2012 with a short video overview of Shelton’s life.

The 11-minute video, supplemented with historical photos and footage, features an interview with Dilgard in which he describes how Shelton revived tribal art on the Tulalip reservation by carving his “sklaletut” pole in 1912.

Shelton interviewed tribal elders about their encounters with spirit helpers, including animals, birds and people, and depicted them in carvings on both sides of a 60-foot pole.

Sklaletut is the word for spirit helpers in Lushootseed, the language of Puget Sound-area Indian tribes.

“There is a broken link between my race and the white people,” Shelton wrote in “Indian Totem Legends of the Northwest Coast Country” in 1913, an article originally printed for an Indian school in Oklahoma and later in The Herald.

“So I thought I better look back and talk to the older people that are living and try to explain our history by getting their totems and carve them out on the pole like the way it used to be years ago,” Shelton wrote.

The pole has deteriorated over the years, but part of it still stands in front of Tulalip Elementary School on the reservation.

Shelton carved several other poles, including one that stood for decades at 44th Street SE and Evergreen Way in Everett — for which the Totem restaurant was named.

Herald file, 2011These two poles carved by William Shelton stood in his original longhouse and now are at the cultural center.

Herald file, 2011
These two poles carved by William Shelton stood in his original longhouse and now are at the cultural center.

The pole deteriorated and was taken down in the late ’80s or early ’90s. It’s now being preserved in a warehouse on the Tulalip reservation.

About 200 of the 1,000 items in the collection of the recently built Hibulb Cultural Center either were made by Shelton or came from among other items stored on his family’s property, assistant curator Tessa Campbell has said.

Shelton ran the sawmill on the reservation and served as a translator for tribal elders who did not speak English. He supervised timber sales, served for a time as police chief and sold war bonds during World War I.

He spoke at the dedication of Legion Park in Everett shortly before his death from pneumonia in 1938 at age 70, according to the city.

In the 1990s, Lita Sheldon worked with Boice, the filmmaker, on short historical and Lushootseed language videos on the reservation.

Boice, a former videographer, editor and producer at KVOS-TV in Bellingham, did freelance video work for the Tulalips for several years, including recording tribal events.

Recently, Sheldon contacted Boice and Dilgard about her idea and the short video was made. The video won best overall film and best documentary short film at the Hibulb Cultural Center Film Festival last January.

Later, it was shown at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco in November and at the Red Nation Film Festival in Los Angeles, Sheldon said.

Sheldon said she needs to raise about $60,000 to fully fund the documentary. The cost would include travel to locations in the East and Midwest where William Shelton sent some of his poles, she said.

The film project had a “kickstarter” web page last summer but received only a little more than $2,800 in pledges, so the idea was shelved temporarily.

Sheldon hasn’t given up, though. She said she hasn’t asked the Tulalip Tribes for funds.

Niki Cleary, a spokeswoman for the tribes, said the project could be eligible for funding as a tribal endeavor, but Sheldon’s group would have to apply. The group also could gain nonprofit status and apply through the tribes’ annual charitable contribution program, she said.

Photo courtesy of the Everett Public LibraryThe Tulalip Longhouse interior is shown during a "Treaty Day" celebration in January 1914. Posts inside the longhouse were ornamented by William Shelton with clan and family symbols.

Photo courtesy of the Everett Public Library
The Tulalip Longhouse interior is shown during a “Treaty Day” celebration in January 1914. Posts inside the longhouse were ornamented by William Shelton with clan and family symbols.

Lita Sheldon, 61, works as the librarian at the Hibulb center but stressed that she is doing this project on her own.

She said it’s not just a matter of money but also of gathering more information about the former tribal leader.

Much of the history about Shelton came through his daughter, Harriette Dover, who died in 1991, as well as from other surviving relatives.

Sheldon is hoping more people with knowledge of William Shelton come forward.

“There’s not a definitive tribal history written,” she said. “This is the closest thing to a tribal history.”

 

 

The project

Anyone interested in the William Shelton documentary project may contact Lita Sheldon at litasheldon@yahoo.com.

 

Tahoma School District Second Graders Tour Tribal Life Trail

 

Sep 25, 2013.
By Janet Muniz VoiceoftheValley.com

 

Tribal life trail totem

Tribal life trail totem

Maple Valley, WA – As the Earth fully embraces the fall change of season this week, the Arboretum welcomes second grade students from Rock Creek for their annual field trip.

The students are studying Native American culture, which includes a tour of the Tribal Life Trail led by a Master Gardener, native plant rubbings led by Arboretum volunteers, and story time led by teachers as part of the curriculum.

A project of the Washington State University Extension Master Gardeners with the support of the Lake Wilderness Arboretum Foundation and the Tahoma School District, the trail lets visitors experience nature through the eyes of native peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Educational signs describe how plants found along the trail were used in daily life for food, medicine, utility, clothing and ceremony.

“I am always impressed by the kids’ interest in learning about how Native Americans used the plants,” says Arboretum Garden Manager Susan Goodell, who volunteers on the field trips, along with Master Gardeners Ursula Paine, who also coordinates the event, and Ankie Strohes.

Goodell says the students also enjoy identifying native plants by the leaves, then making a rubbing on paper.

Visit LakeWildernessArboretum.org, emailinfo@lakewildernessarboretum.org or call 253-293-5103 to volunteer or donate.

Salish Sea Native American Culture Celebration

 

OLYMPIA – May 13, 2013 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission invites the public to attend the Eighth Annual Salish Sea Native American Culture Celebration with the Samish and Swinomish tribes.

The celebration runs from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at the Bowman Bay picnic area on the Fidalgo Island side of Deception Pass State Park, 41020 State Route 20, Oak Harbor. The event celebrates the maritime heritage of the two participating Coast Salish tribes. This year’s event also commemorates the 100th birthday of the Washington state park system, which was created by the Legislature in 1913.

The June 8 event will feature canoe rides and native singers, drummers and storytellers. Artists from the two tribes will demonstrate traditional weaving, cedar work and woodcarving. A salmon and frybread lunch also will be available for purchase. The Discover Pass is not required to attend the event. In recognition of National Get Outdoors Day, Saturday, June 8 is a State Parks “free day,” when visitors to state parks are not required to display a Discover Pass.

Cultural event activities are presented by the Samish Indian Nation, the Samish Canoe Family, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and the Swinomish Canoe Family. Proceeds from food sales at the Salish Sea Native American Culture Celebration support the Samish and Swinomish canoe families’ participation in the annual intertribal canoe journey; each year, tribes and nations from the Pacific Northwest travel by canoe to different host communities along the Salish Sea. This year, the Quinault Tribe plays host to the intertribal canoe journey, which lands in Taholah on August 1. For more information about this year’s canoe journey, visit www.paddletoquinault.org.

The event is accessible to persons with disabilities. If special accommodations are required in order to attend the event, please call (360) 902-8626 or (360) 675-3767 or the Washington Telecommunications Relay Service at (800) 833-6388. Requests must be made in advance.

The Salish Sea Native American Culture Celebration is part of a broader series of events celebrating Washington’s diverse cultures and presented by the Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks Program. The program is a partnership between the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington State Arts Commission and Northwest Heritage Resources with funding provided by National Endowment for the Arts and the Washington State Parks Foundation.

Deception Pass State Park is a 4,134-acre marine and camping park with 77,000 feet of saltwater of shoreline, and 33,900 feet of freshwater shoreline on three lakes. The park is best known for views of Deception Pass and Bowman Bay, old-growth forests, abundant wildlife and the historic Deception Pass Bridge.

Stay connected to your state parks by following Washington State Parks at www.facebook.com/WashingtonStateParks, www.twitter.com/WaStatePks_NEWS and www.youtube.com/WashingtonStateParks. Share your favorite state park adventure on the new State Parks’ blog site at www.AdventureAwaits.com.