March 07, 2013

Indians educate via social media

Using social media for a greater good

By Stephen CrawfordShe educated the large crowd in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts about mainstream media portrayals of Native Americans, which misuse traditional dress and often exaggerate Native American cultures, and about how some in the American Indian population are countering those portrayals through social media.

Bassett said that mass representations of American Indians—like pop group No Doubt’s controversial music video for its song “Looking Hot,” and a Victoria’s Secret model walking a fashion runway in a traditional headdress, contributed to public relations crises. However, she said that social media has “created a space where Native Americans have taken control of their own identity.”

Although No Doubt and Victoria’s Secret issued apologies for their stereotyping, some in the Native American population are continuing their mission to educate the world on their heritage through Facebook, Twitter and online blogging. This action reflects a largely urban American Indian population throughout North America and in each one of the United States—not simply in the rural Southwest, as some may believe.

According to the 2010 census, and to the surprise of many, Bassett said that 71 percent of the American Indian population resides in urban areas of the United States, more than double the amount from 1970.

The Facebook page for a group called Idle No More has received more than 99,000 “likes” since early 2013, and the blogs “Native Appropriations” and “Urban Native Girl” are also doing their part to educate and inform.

Inaccurate and offensive portrayals “rob our communities of the right to be recognized as living, contemporary people,” Bassett said.
Comment:  Indians aren't just creating their own space via social media. They're thrusting themselves into the mainstream's space--demanding to be acknowledged and heard. That's led to many changes such as the elimination of offensive stereotypes.

For more on the subject, see How Online Activism Works and Indians Connect Via Social Media.


Anonymous said...

Social media is why I'm here. A few months ago, I clicked on a link I found on STFU Parent's Facebook page to a slideshow of offensive Halloween costumes for girls. There was a Native American one in there and the text linked simply to a Native American blog, explaining that there were whole websites devoted to why that costume was bad in case you didn't get it. The blog was no longer active, but through it, I found you and Adrienne, and visit your blogs every day to learn stuff. I also checked out some of the Native American movies on Netflix (like Smoke Signals, Reel Indian, We Shall Remain and Incident at Oglalla) and yesterday I got some books out of the library too. I even wrote to the mayor and to my district rep about changing the name of Squaw Island Park (no response yet though). All because of a link of Facebook to a website that's usually fairly silly.

dmarks said...

Hi Anon. We have one of those Squaw places near me:

Squaw Island Light. Apparently it has avoided controversy. An Odawa elder told me a couple of decades ago that it should be renamed as "Woman Island", but that is all I have heard of it.