Indian Life Newspaper -

Indigenous youth tell stories through TikTok


Last updated 2/2/2021 at 2:38pm

KANSAS CITY, Mo.-Step aside, Instagram, TikTok has taken the floor as teenagers' second favorite social media app to the tune of 29 percent of teens choosing it as their favorite compared to 34 percent who chose Snapchat as their top pick. Instagram rates third in favorites with 25 percent.

And TikTok continues to gain market share among young North American users, which is a key demographic for social apps and advertisers.

TikTok is a video-sharing social networking service owned by Chinese company ByteDance. Users can post short videos from three seconds to one minute long. Released in 2016 and available in 75 languages, TikTok is especially appealing to young people who can post videos that feature anything from dance and education to heart-felt opinions, education, relationships, and style.

TikTok has also become a way for Native American young people to talk about life from their perspectives and culture, on and off the res, using hashtags like #native, #indigenous, #teachyourindigenouslanguage, #firstnationstiktok, #nativetiktok, #native pride, #nativefamily, and #nativeChristian

In one video Tia Wood, or @tiamiscihk, explained why Native Americans tend to grow long hair . . . it was soon watched by a mllion viewers

For instance, there's Patrick Willie* the co-creator of a humorous YouTube series called Natives React and professional hoop dancer from the Navajo (Diné) Nation. He shows his amazing dance moves on his TikTok platform, @patrickisanavajo.

Or Shina Novalinga, @shinanova, who teaches about and performs Inuit throat singing, as well as advocating respect for other cultures.

Kymon Palau, @kkymonn, is a filmmaker of Tongan and Navajo (Diné) descent. He offers humorous videos, including cooking tutorials that give viewers a snapshot of Native foods like Navajo tacos.

Patuk Glenn, @patukglenn, an Iñupiaq woman from Alaska, posts videos showing her daily life, including hunting methods to her favorite traditional foods and clothing.

Patricia Christensen, a 20-year-old Salish and Pend d'Oreille college student who grew up on the Flathead Reservation, teaches followers about Native American things "so you don't sound ignorant" on ._.tricia.

Theland Kicknosway, @the_land has raised awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous woman in Canada since she was in elementary school.

James Jones, or @notoriouscree, a Cree from Edmonton, Alb., increased his TikTok presence after his dance and speaking performances were canceled due to COVID. One video hit more than 100,000 views overnight and has been viewed over two million times now and Jones has two million followers.

"There's no other app where you can go online, post a video about anything-it could be raising awareness about something happening in your community, it could be a dance video, it could be you just talking about life in general, and that video can get 10 million views, you can gain like hundreds of thousands of followers from it," Jones told Newsweek reporters. "There's no other app that really gives you that platform [and] allows you to tell your story the way you want to tell it."

Indigenous people have long known and embraced the power of story. And so it's no surprise that the younger generation of Native North Americans has discovered TikTok as an avenue to continue telling the stories of their people, their cultures, their lives.

*Indian Life Ministries does not endorse any of the examples mentioned nor imply agreement with their messages.


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