TikTok, the popular video app known for sparking dance challenges and lip syncs, is taking on a new meaning with Indigenous creators who are using the platform to share their culture with new audiences.
James Jones, known as "Notorious Cree" on TikTok, began posting videos at the start of the pandemic to keep himself occupied. His content often showcases history lessons on Indigenous culture, traditional regalia and hoop dancing. Now well into 1.1 million followers, the Edmonton resident has become a well-known creator online.
“Some of (the videos) just absolutely went viral, just blew up,” he told CTV News.
In the span of five months he’s gained hundreds of thousands of followers with his videos that not only bring relatable entertainment to the Indigenous community but dismiss common misconceptions about his culture.@notoriouscree ♬ original sound - notoriouscree
“I just really want to show (Indigenous viewers) it’s OK to be who you are,” he said.@notoriouscree ♬ The Chicken Wing Beat - Ricky Desktop
Marika Sila, an Inuit actress who grew up in Alberta and whose family comes from the Arctic community Tuktoyaktuk, has also garnered thousands of views on the app for her videos featuring her culture.@marikasila ♬ Tadow - Masego & FKJ
With more than 200,000 followers on TikTok, Sila said she had to educate herself on her own culture while living in Alberta, where she also faced discrimination at a young age.
“I faced a lot of racist bullying from a young age,” Sila said to CTV News.
Sila has also used her platform to advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and teaching others about the residential school system in Canada.@marikasila ♬ feel something - bea miller - valen.carp
“My goal is basically to bridge the gap of understanding between all races so we can grow and thrive together,” she said.