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MARY FAILING: Choctaws speak out against Gov. Fallin appearing at this weekend’s Labor Day celebration

ChoctawNation.com
Traditional dancers perform ay last year's Labor Day celebration
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Many Choctaws over the past week have been left wondering if tribal leaders are completely out of touch with their members, especially in regards to the guests at this weekend’s Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival in Tuskahoma.

Many were originally miffed that cast members of the Andrew Jackson-praising Duck Dynasty clan were showing up for a meet and greet, but even that news couldn’t prepare organizers for the backlash upon the announcement that Gov. Mary Fallin would be there to participate in several events including the unveiling of “Honoring the Giver of Life” statue in front of the Choctaw Nation Capitol/Museum and the Grand Entry of Inter Tribal Pow Wow on the Capitol lawn.

When the news hit the Choctaw Nation’s Facebook page, the responses were less than favorable as well, with comments ranging from aggressive to incendiary. For example, Charles Wood suggested a “coup of the current Choctaw government” and Vince Blackfox added “maybe she'll bring her daughter or at the very least she will wear her daughter's headdress.” These were very typical of the mix of heated emotions going on and will probably continue to rise as rumblings about protests start to happen.

Summer Wesley, both a Choctaw member and an Oklahoma-based Tribal Law attorney, couldn’t believe her eyes when she read the announcement.

“Mary Fallin has demonstrated to not be an ally to Native tribes, yet has been chosen to not only appear at Choctaw Fest, but to unveil a statue in honor of our women,” Wesley said. “As a Choctaw woman, I am appalled that she is being given a platform for her insincere pandering and her participation in the unveiling causes the statue to lose all honor to me. Further, I think this sends the wrong message to Indian Country regarding the Choctaw Nation's priorities and loyalties. Fallin's participation implies that our Nation condones her anti-Native policies.”

The Choctaw Nation has dedicated this year’s Labor Day Festival to the “strong Choctaw women who are the heart of Choctaw culture.” Allowing Fallin to appear, especially for this theme, has also become a bone of contention. Activist Jamie Folsom said she believes that Fallin “doesn't represent the kindness and strength we celebrate about women,” while Dawn Standridge doubled-down with “She's supposed to be representing strong women because of the theme of the festival. ...excuse me but don't we have strong NATIVE women who would be more appropriate!”

Many Choctaws also declared seeing this for what it more than likely is: another act of pandering from a politician who has worked hard to take away Native rights, from the Baby Veronica fiasco to various water-rights issues, to clearing the government of most Indian advocate to her own failing to keep anti-Native sentiment in-check within her own home. It’s a ploy that pretty much everyone had something to say about.

Valerie Branyan said, via Facebook, “She cleaned house of all natives when she took office, she fought us in court, she helped rip Veronica Brown from her dad, her daughter insults Natives making national attention, and we are letting her spoil our festival with her stink? Really?”

“Just found out she is having a booth too!!” commented Brenda Kennedy. “I hope Choctaws who are fed up with her educational policies, her desire to get Sardis Lake in her corporate grasp, her desire to ignore the Native people at every turn...will let her know about it personally this weekend.. She does care now only when she wants to be re-elected!!! A voteless people are a voiceless people.... the way you make your voice heard is to VOTE!!!”

“She is merely taking advantage of the fact that our native communities are welcoming and respectful to all visiting dignitaries because that is our way,” Johnnie Jae, Midwest Regional Director for Native Max Magazine, added.

“After years of disregarding and disrespecting the indigenous nations of Oklahoma, Governor Fallen (sic) plans to make an appearance at the Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival? Why?” Jae asked. “So she can use it as an opportunity to appear as though she is concerned or interested in the native nations of this state, without actually have to listen to their concerns. She can show up, shake a few hands and smile while photographers capture the moment and she can say that she's done a good job maintaining a good relationship with our native nations and communities.”

While the aforementioned rumblings of a protest are just starting, other tribal members are planning on voicing their opinion via letters to Chief Gary Batton or by simply not showing up to the festivities at all.

Some plan on simply following Sarah Ridge Drake’s lead.

“I will be wearing my "Vote for Joe Dorman" t-shirt!” Drake exclaimed.

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Louis Fowler

Freelancer. Curandero in Training. Social Justice Leftist. Native-American/Mexican-American. Neo... read more

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