#followfriday 4 Indigenous TikTokers to Follow
TikTok has taken the world by storm and we’ve watched as Indigenous people have embraced the platform as a tool for sharing their skills, educating the masses, and creating positive change in their communities. These Indigenous TikTok creators have feeds that offer hours of entertainment, thought provoking storytelling, and personalities that will have you wanting to be their friend. Each of these creators share stories specific to their nation, including tales about supernatural beings and beliefs about the natural world around us.
Unfortunately, each of these creators has been the target of racist comments and videos on the app. They’ve exemplified grace in responding to racism, highlighting the reality of what BIPOC people experience in online spaces, and often using the opportunity as a teaching moment. We acknowledge that it is never easy to be the target of racism and we thank them for their courage and work in making our communities safer by drawing attention to Indigenous experiences and speaking openly about their challenges.
Their contribution reaches further than they can know as they continually inspire Indigenous people and allies to engage with the betterment of our communities. Check out four of our favourite TikTok creators to follow.
Singer and video creator, Tia Wood has long been a force on Native Social Media. Her powerhouse vocals and striking beauty are captivating. In many of her videos Tia proudly wears her culture with gorgeous beadwork and handmade dresses. Her smile and sense of humour are delightful to watch. True to Indigenous traditions, Tia uses humour to bring attention to the difficulties we face at the hands of colonialism. She talks access to clean water and water usage, linking us to the tools we can use to learn better water usage practices and educate ourselves.
Her “Auntie T’S History Lesson” series educates viewers on the tough topics including the Starlight Tours and Residential School mass graves. She talks the over-sexualization of Indigenous women in Halloween costumes that are often worn in jest by non-Indigenous people without thinking through the discriminatory and misinformed nature of the costumes. She explains the link between such harmful ideas and practices with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girl epidemic.
Tia has documented her journey of moving from the rez to LA to chase her dreams. In this she touches us with her memories of home; pow wow dancing with loved ones and community, singing with her family, and the feeling of just being able to breathe. Her story is one that resonates with many Indigenous people who have left their home community to pursue their goals.
Tia addresses a multitude of topics that hit home with Indigenous people including hair teachings, the importance of honouring our ancestors, and taking pride in Indigenous features. She is a role model of decolonizing beauty standards- proudly wearing her hair long and in braids, and showing us her extensive collection of beautiful handmade Indigenous clothing and beadwork.
In Fall of 2020 a Tik Tok Sound she made while dueting another creator went viral, rocking Indigenous social media and inspiring creatives of all kinds to make videos using the sound featuring her vocals. Her audio has been used over 15k times on TikTik alone since it’s release.
Shina Nova is an Inuk throat singer whose vibrant personality and fascinating content has drawn in the masses. Shina educates viewers about the historical suppression of throat singing, while she proudly displays her skills. She shares the game of throat singing with her mother and co-creator Kayuula Nova. The intergenerational love they exhibit on Shina’s platform is heartwarming. The two work together to educate viewers by sharing their traditions and stories.
Shina Nova shares numerous songs, the origins of specific sounds and has recorded an album with her mother. She speaks to other cultural norms including how facial expressions are used to communicate. She debunks the ways outsiders have co opted Inuk practices such as the “Eskimo Kiss,” showing us how it’s really done.
Food practices is a theme on Shina’s page. She explains how the Inuk diet is impacted by the land they’re on and the food insecurity that they experience due to the insanely high cost of healthy foods in northern communities. Shina teaches us about a traditional diet, sharing her bannock recipe and explaining the ways she enjoys eating Mattaq (raw beluga whale). She shows us arctic char, how she prepares it and likes to eat it all while explaining the health benefits of these foods. Shina notes that sustainable hunting practices are key to traditional food consumption and that the meat provides health benefits in a territory where other nutritional foods cannot be grown.
Shina has used her platform to bring positive change to her community by raising money to buy bikes for the children in her home community of Puvirnituq to promote physical and mental well-being. She explains that shipping bikes up north can be very costly and links her audience to avenues through which they can help in alleviating this gap.
A lover of Indigenous accessories and clothes, her earring collection alone has us in awe. Shina highlights the talent in her family by modelling stunning garments made by her little sister. She proudly wears her culture through her fashion and has recently received eye catching tattoos exhibiting her culture to all. Shina shared the process of receiving her facial markings that were done by tattoo artist and Inuk creative Zorga Qaunaq. Shina’s markings have been widely commented on due to her large audience and impactful platform. She has said that she’s observed that revitilizing culture triggers people, and as a result she’s been targeted with discriminatory comments and messages.
Shina Nova encourage her followers to educate themselves about Indigenous people and cultures and directs viewers to resources and courses available to do so. Additionally, Shina encourages Indigenous people to take pride in their identity, embrace their culture and know that they are knowledgeable and powerful.
Chris Osawi Maskwa Yellowbird is a Cree musician, storyteller, cultural educator and self-proclaimed jokester. His videos are rich in educational content that inspires viewers to explore new perspectives when looking at the world around them and engage with the knowledge of our ancestors. His comedic skits as well as reactions to comments and other videos are sure to bring a laugh. We must admit his laughter is contagious.
Chris is a seasoned storyteller and his calming energy is soothing to watch as he speaks about Indigenous prophecies. He connects his traditional teachings and Cree language with relatable guidance for bettering our lives. His video on transforming energy into positivity reminds us to pray, show gratitude, forgive others and show kindness to counter oncoming darkness. He regularly inspires his audience to take steps toward bettering their lives by healing.
Chris uses his platform to draw attention to issues Indigenous people are facing as well as discriminatory content seen on the app. He works to keep important conversations going about Residential School burial sites and has spoken about the impacts of the schools in his family.
As a producer and musician, Chris has been sharing his voice and talents for many years. While he says he has hung up his microphone, his growth through the many chapters of using his voice is inspiring.
Chris’s love for community and passion for creating change is clear. He explains that with his life he aims to empower Indigenous people though cultural teachings and aspires to decolonize minds and undo the toxic conditioning of colonialism as much as possible. He works to give hope and pride to all and promote the restoration of the land to it’s rightful caretakers - the children and the generations ahead. He uses his gifts to help reactivate the blood memory in the new warriors who are reconnecting. We deeply appreciate his commitment to community and all of that he puts into creating change.
Che Jim is an actor and entertainer who brings humour to our feeds daily. His comedic skits along with his knack for Indigenizing TikTok trends and sounds are a joy to watch. In true Indigenous form, he often makes us laugh through laughing at himself. His creativity is undeniable when viewing his extensive body of work that reimagines the ways we relate to one another through humour and prompts us to explore new depths of Indigenization in comedy.
Che’s Spooky Series is one to watch if you’re a lover of the paranormal. Not to be watched alone or in the dark, the series shares creepy stories of unexplained encounters with other than human entities. Thankfully his welcoming and approachable presence offers some solace while exploring the mysterious and chilling side of TikTok.
Che brings his diverse artistic skills to the table, demonstrating his talent for drawing, specifically highlighting his own Ledger Art. He shares about the importance of Indigenous Ledger Art and the stories told through this medium. His vibrant artwork is inspiring.
While his channel is predominantly known for comedy, Che calls attention to damaging racist behaviours and actions he sees directed at Indigenous people. He has spoken about the use of Natives as mascots in sports, paying specific attention to a school a few miles from his home that is still taking part in this form of overt racism. Through his page he links viewers to the ways in which they can help address and stop these practices.
Che speaks to the challenges we face in our communities, many of which are becoming more widely discussed on social media. He has recently spoken about instances of harmful masculinity in Indian Country. With this he encourages Indigenous people to decolonize and reconnect with culture and identity, traditions and customs. He speaks to the importance of Matriarchy and listening to Indigenous women and 2Spirit people. He advocates that women and 2Spirit voices should be at the center of the important conversations about healing and decolonizing our communities.
Che, we one 100 percent agree!
Written by Rebekah Elkerton