Indigenous people are barely represented in the mainstream media. When they are, images of aboriginal peoples can be misconstrued or falsely portrayed. Pandeia has taken a look at indigenous blogs confronting native stereotypes through new forms of cyber journalism.
Recently Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Youtube, Instagram and other social media have been increasingly used as a platform in the indigenous community to educate and advocate – they have become vital platforms to communicate indigenous perspectives. Through the use of new media, young Indigenous people are driving for a cultural, economical and political change.
Indigenous people are a unique group in society and, despite international dedication to improvement, are often discriminated against. They can face pressure to give up their cultural traditions and identity, and to assimilate into the general population. The pressure can come directly from society or even through institutions such as schools and governments. With this in mind, the use of social media has become an essential tool for Indigenous people to represent their culture and themselves.
The pressure Indigenous people face to assimilate into society has taken many forms through history, and Indigenous people are still today fighting the consequences of previous actions, often taken by governments, to assimilate them into society.
In Australia and Canada for example, hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed into governmental and boarding school and other institutions to culturally assimilate them into society. The consequences of these actions are devastating. Canada, Australia and Greenland are still facing social consequences, including high alcohol abuse, high suicide rates and a loss of cultural heritage.
The following blogs Pandeia recommends all provide an insight into the culture and community of indigenous people, giving indigenous people the opportunity to speak out and challenge the issue of white privilege, colonialism and unbalanced power relations.
Adrienne Keene, an EdD candidate at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education is the founder of the blog Native Appropriations. One main focus in her blog is to obliterate stereotypes in society and to address the need of publishing an accurate portrayal of contemporary native people in the media.
As she started her blog, her purpose was to place random images of Native people she saw in her everyday life. Today she has reached 40,000 Facebook fans and has 2.75 million page viewers. In her blog you will find her engaging with her audience, looking in depth into the effects and meaning of the internet in shifting people’s perceptions on indigenous matters.
“Everything related to indigenous music culture”
RPM is a global new music platform intended to discover the most talented Indigenous musicians from across the globe. It was launched in 2011 as a platform to highlight the wide array of Indigenous music from the world over. Today, the webpage hosts a huge database of artists . Bringing together musicians, fans, and listeners, creating a community of Indigenous, First Nations, Aboriginal, Inuit, and Métis musicians, to share and promote their work; crushing stereotypes.
On RPM you can find music reviews, latest native music news, music videos, interviews, upcoming concerts and events and follow up on the latest news for the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards.
Decolonizing Media is a Tumblr blog presenting images, posters, quotes and videos, breaking stereotypes by showcasing decolonizing art. It uses photography to show colonization in today’s world and raises awareness of the issues indigenous people face. You will find posts about the crisis of violence against Indigenous women and girls, posters reporting “It ends here”, and photos from demonstrations in Toronto crying out “Justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women now”. Blogs on exciting indigenous music – It is a blog worth taking a look at.
“Law, language, life: A Plains Cree speaking Métis woman in Montreal”
A 35-year-old Chelsea Vowel, currently educating herself in Plains Cree language, aboriginal language education and Indigenous law, lives in Montreal and runs this lively blog with focus on Indigenous languages.
Her blog is full of links directing users to webpages of indigenous musicians, painters, and artists. On her blog you will find what she calls ‘Indigenous issues 101’ where she tries to do “myth debunking”, busting myths about Indigenous people, saying she grew tired of hearing about these stereotypes.
“I have found it very difficult over the years to have discussions about anything related to Indigenous peoples because so many bizarre beliefs get in the way.”
A vibrant aboriginal feminist blog run in the purpose of providing space to express opinion in a way that is not done in the Australian mainstream media. A 35-year-old Arrente woman, Celeste Liddle, runs the blog while living in Melbourne, Australia and working as the National Indigenous Organiser for the National Tertiary Education Union.
This critical blog is focused on the struggles of aboriginal feminists and touching upon colonialism issues along with film reviews, discussion about social change and Indigenous and Minority Writers online. It is a very interesting blog providing what seems to be missing in the mainstream media. Liddle proudly says her blog is a biased blog describing the web side as “proudly feminist, left-wing and black site.” As she points out, the Australian mainstream media is dominated by white men and 70 per cent by the Murdoch Press. It’s a radical left-wing organisation in her words.
Throughout the changing landscape of social media and the blogosphere, indigenous people are presented with an opportunity to break down stereotypes, re-represent themselves, and speak up in their own – united – voices against a system which has for so long misrepresented or ignored them. These blogs, we hope, are just the beginning of a huge movement, closing the gap between First Nations and mainstream views on issues of diversity and aboriginality.