December 17th, 2019 Last Updated on: January 7th, 2020
In the day and age of tech-savvy individuals, where the majority of marketing most people view and the main way to connect with others is through social media, it is no wonder that Instagram, Twitter, and the like, are current platforms for influencers to highlight their powerful activist nature.
Instagram for instance, has only been around for less than ten years, yet has found a way to help users promote their thoughts and opinions, advocate for others, and begin revolutions while reaching millions of others across the world in only a short moment in time. This form of communicating and marketing to the masses is unprecedented and unrivaled by any other platform.
Many Indigenous Americans, such as 15-year-old Autumn Peltier, the beautifully strong ‘water warrior’ pictured above, are making vast waves on social media by educating others on past and current social, environmental, and cultural issues in Indigenous communities as well as using a powerful presence and persuasive rhetoric to gain followers among their advocacy groups.
By having a tenacious social media presence, Indigenous American activists have been able to create positive thinking and make changes in their communities.
Let’s take a closer look at three Native people of influence.
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Thank you to @suckafreexdumbcity & @tibok.productions for hosting a beautiful celebration yesterday!! We are hella proud of you @mykfilms 🎉 you took an important moment in your life & chose to include everyone around you 🤲🏽 from other local Street Wear movements like @sanfam__ @sew_frisco @bayaniart && the several other visionary brands you invited to set up!! to incredible emcees/musicians like @rockayye @amiihan @mavy_e @dj_dondon && everyone on the bill!!! 🔥Maraming salamat – Thank You for the invitation to continue building friendships & solidarity with all of you ❤️ & huge thanks to everyone who came out to support!! We even got to celebrate my favorite Indipina sistar @jackiefawn 27th trip around the sun😍🎉 &Not to take away from the accomplishments of @suckafreexdumbcity but meeting young journalists and twinstars @ameliaandadinah was for sure the highlight of my day!! 🤩😍 Your questions were so thoughtful and important – this was my most favorite interview to ever be apart of because of your energy and professionalism! 😃 Thanks especially for asking about the song I performed in the txʷəlšucid language and for letting me share some details about it’s official 8/19 single release ! & for taking the healthy risk to learn some txʷəlšucid 😎☺️ Again, big love to all of you! 🤲🏽 🎥 @sylviekari Vest by @riccetticlothing Shirt by @_seniarose_ for @frisco_lens PLEASE contribute to Jesus bail fund via https://www.gofundme.com/f/jesus-frisco-bail #FREEfrisco
In an interview, Calina tells her followers that she is a 26 year old Suquamish from Salish territory of the PNW. She is a singer/songwriter who is a “national advocate/activist for many different causes.” Calina “ultimately wants to work however she can to eliminate unnecessary and unjust suffering caused by abuse of colonial power dynamics.” She is well-known for her advocacy during the recent pipeline protests as well as bringing awareness to Indigenous children in the foster care system, which she has personal experience with.
Click on her name above to follow her on Instagram and keep up with all the wonderful work she is doing and hear her amazing voice.
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#RunningForJustice: Aleyah Elaine Toscano • Khadijah Britton • Fred Martinez • Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow • Kaysera Stops Pretty Places • Corrine Faye White Thunder • Wahbinmigisi “Pennie” Robertson • Sherry Ann Wounded Foot • Ronald Hard Heart • Wilson Black Elk • Sharon Baldeagle • Delema Lou Sits Poor • Victoria Jane Eagleman • Destinee Alexis Atencio I ran in prayer and dedicated this fourth race to them at the 2019 San Jose Half Marathon. This movement to elevate this epidemic began with our Missing and Murdered Sisters, but the truth is, it includes all Indigenous Peoples and extends beyond borders. I want to include our Womxn, Girls, men, elders and two spirit relatives as I run forward. The handprint represents the silenced voices taken from our communities from violence and racism. I painted #MMIW on my arm and leg and 5,712 on my other leg for the amount of reported missings in 2016 where ONLY 116 were logged into the Dept of Justice database (in @urbanindianhealthinstitute Report). This is for our relatives. It’s an honor to run for them and share this platform to raise awareness. Leading into the race I was stressed from work, had a couple anxiety attacks, finding the names made me sad, and not great sleep. I’m learning how to train at the level I want to be at and advocate in this platform. Despite my performance and now with a small injury, I’ll get healthy and I will keep doing it until we see solutions, accountability, and justice. The families & communities need justice and healing. This is very emotionally heavy and it’s been a whirlwind of a journey since my prayer run at the #BostonMarathon. I’m healing and learning. And despite the pain I was in, I tuned it out and focused every step on our stolen relatives to get me through the finish line. Our lives matter. #WeAreStillHere. And I’m inspired by everyone who is putting in the work to end this long-standing violence on Indigenous peoples. I’ll keep running and organizing. Lila wopila tanka to all my supporters. Lila philamayaye to my family and my partner Devin, for the constant love and support. ✊🏽❤️ 📷 @devinwhetstone
Jordan runs (most recently in the 2019 Boston Marathon) to raise awareness for the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous girls and women. The red handprint on her face not only signifies the great loss within Native communities but also states loudly and clearly that their voices will not be silenced and their communities are here to stay. Click above to follow Jordan on Instagram—#RunningForJustice.
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I was raised in West Phoenix in the homelands of our O’odham relatives. My journey as an artist would be incomplete without mentioning how my indigenous teachings and my environment in the city came together. • When I think of where I spent the majority of my life, I think of families working double shifts, the sound of a bike horn meaning elotes are near, car wash fundraisers for fallen homies, vacant lot markets, racing bikes down shimmering alleys, soccer games and hoopin’ at Sueño Park, and DJ lights dancing off palm trees until 3am. Our rooftop views were when we stood on suncracked shingles to catch a glimpse of the sunset, or look up at the stars that could pierce through the streetlights. • For an area that gets a bad rep for gangs, homicide, drugs, and low graduation rates, I was always taught to see the beauty in any situation and every person including people who hurt me and those who have a lot of healing ahead of them. My grandma Paula would say, “focus on the solutions, not the problems.” I’ve learned that this teaching also means focus on the love. • One of my earliest expressions is from when I was about 7 years old and I wrote a poem for my grandma Paula when she passed away. I compared her spiritual transition to the gracefulness of an eagle feather falling from the sky. • I remember when teachers and faculty couldn’t comprehend why I had so many funerals to attend or why my mind seemed preoccupied with the safety of my loved ones. Frequently people around me seemed annoyed by the amount of trauma in my life, but my family showed me to find strength in expressions that come straight from the heart. When my mom had a stroke that almost took her life, her doodles of her childhood memories brought us hope. As I turned to my dad to learn how to respond to tragedy, I saw him turn pain into beautiful sculptures that visited him in his dreams. • Tens of trips around the sun after I wrote that poem for my grandma Paula, I now find myself accepting a position of creative director at @indiancountrytoday, continuing my role as an indigenous man to serve my people with dignity and respect, generations at a time, for all my relations in all directions.
Tomás Karmelo Amaya is a photographer, film director, and writer who is Yoeme, A:shiwi, and Rarámuri. He empowers Native communities “by way of high-quality, striking images that show dignity, respect, and cultural sensitivity for the subject.” Through the use of technology as well as written word, such as poetry, he is able to convey powerful messages about Indigenous people. Check out his Instagram page to see many of these incredible images—many of them have been published throughout online magazines and blogs, universities, and even in the New York Times.
There are various Indigenous artists, influencers, and activists out there on and off social media that you can learn about. Simply by Googling basic keywords, you will be able to view lists on lists of who you might be interested in following. Maybe you’ll notice someone who has the same beliefs and values system as you do or perhaps they are fighting for a specific cause that is near and dear to your own life.
A primary benefit to following others who are positively trying to change the world is that their messages are worth listening to and thankfully, positivity can spread like wildfire; these cultural influencers are helping get others thinking about the world around them and to motivate them to take action in their own communities.
Get on social media right now and check out what Indigenous Americans have to offer our world AND go to Parade’s article, 25 Inspiring Indigenous American Activist Accounts to Follow to Learn About Indigenous People, Issues and Life to learn about 22 other activists!
Feature image courtesy from Autumn Peltier Instagram.
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