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Natives gather in Portland, Ore. to protest Flaming Lips

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Wayne Coyne is the frontman for Oklahoma City-based psychedelic-rock band The Flaming Lips.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Wayne Coyne and cronies thought that they might have skated by in regard to accusations of racism from various Native American groups, but a protest planned for 3:30 p.m. Sunday in Portland, Oregon during the Flaming Lips free show at the Portland Waterfront is sending a message otherwise.

Led by Native activist Jacqueline Keeler, member of Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry promoted the event by saying that even though Coyne’s actions “may play in Oklahoma it does not in the Pacific Northwest.”

“I don't get why understanding why misappropriating our culture is wrong is such a difficult concept to grasp,” Keeler lamented. “Stunning how it goes to hatefulness towards Native people so quickly. “The stereotypes that this form of minstrelry promotes prevent real understanding of Native people today. It pigeonholes us into static images from the past and allows continued theft of not only our culture and our image but more concretely, of our land, of our children and of our sovereignty as nations within the United States.”

Coyne came under fire over the past few months for not only his support of local band Pink Pony’s constant Native American slams via cultural appropriation, but adding fuel to the fire by taking a picture of a dog in a Native headdress and posting to Instagram, not to mention various anti-Native jabs at a music awards show and at the Wakarusa festival in Arkansas, all of which has been reported on here at Red Dirt Report.

As protesters begin to gather and prepare for the peaceful protest, there is also a chance that the Natives and Native-allies will face backlash from the concert-goers. While Keeler hopes that instead of unleashing scorn the attendees will instead find enlightenment about this issue, Keeler said she personally feels sorry for those that continue to live in the big inflatable ball of racism.

“I think they should be more concerned about backlash against their own ignorant and hateful actions,” Keeler said. “We use social media to highlight egregious actions against Native people fighting racism. They will find their support of taking and misusing Native culture coupled with hatred towards actual Native people is not a flattering stance to take after we shine a light on it.”

With recent success stories such as the San Francisco Giants and various music festivals banning Native headdresses and the like from their events, Keeler hopes that this protest will continue to “make it harder and harder for Redface to be accepted in public spaces.”

For those that can’t attend the protest, Keeler said that allies can join them in spirit via social media, speaking out against Native appropriation and racism by using the hashtags #RedfaceDisgrace and #NotYourMascot. Sadly, while the protesters do feel that they might open many people’s eyes to this issue, it’s still apparent that Coyne himself won’t be one of them.

“Based on his past comments, I doubt Coyne will learn from this,” Keeler added. “But, in the end, he will cave because we will make it so unacceptable for him to continue to do it.”

Red Dirt Report will continue to follow this story.

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Louis Fowler

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

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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