Indigenous New Media–What are your thoughts?

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.11 Comments


new media


(Awesome logo by Jessica Harjo for the Indigenous New Media Symposium THIS FRIDAY Feb 21st)

When I started Native Appropriations in 2010, I started it as a place to catalogue random images of Native peoples I was seeing in my everyday life. I wanted a place where I was able to express my thoughts about how those images made me feel, and a place that could serve as a repository for the growing examples of “Tribal Fashion” that I was seeing in stores and online. I felt kinda alone and silenced in my East-Coast-Ivy-League-world, so I turned to the internet to find others who were interested in similar issues and would help me learn how to push back on these images and ideas.

Fast forward four years, 283 posts, 4,283 comments, 2.75 million pageviews, 40,000 FB fans, and 7,019 tweets (yikes–maybe I need to tweet less). Now I’ve been invited to speak at this amazing Indigenous New Media Symposium this week, and I’m getting the chance to reflect and ask–So what does this all mean?

In a perfect world I would have put this question to all of you a lot earlier, but I turned in my dissertation (draft) on Friday(!!!), and part of the draw of social media is the speed with which things move, so hey. Let’s talk.

I’ve been tasked at the symposium to talk about how New Media* and tools such as FB, IG, Twitter, Soundcloud, YouTube, etc have provided new ways to challenge perception and policy–and create tangible change–in the areas of cultural appropriation and cultural ownership (eg all the things we talk about on Native Approps).

I have a basic framework for my presentation, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this.

  • How has (or has it?) the internet changed the way you think about cultural appropriation, cultural ownership, and representations?
  • How have you seen Native folks been able to harness the power of social media to make change in these areas?
  • Is any of this worth it? (I’m serious. I think I and a lot of other people who talk about representations get a lot of hate from Natives and non-Natives alike who say these issues “don’t matter” or accuse us of only being “reactionary” or “complaining”–what do you think?)

Just some random questions to get you thinking. Feel free to add in whatever random thoughts you have–I’m also talking about this on twitter today, so feel free to tweet me! You are also invited to participate in the conversation during the symposium (it will be live streamed) with the #indnewmedia hashtag, and questions for the Q&A will come from social media too (#indnewmediaQ).

I love that we’re at the point that we can be self-reflective and think about the future of Indigenous New Media. The nerd in me is so excited about this conversation that I can’t even handle it. I’m also feeling the pressure to be all thought-provoking and have my ish together…which is good!

I’m looking forward to meeting some of you on Friday and Saturday, and I can’t thank the incredible organizers of the symposium–Thelma, Cody, and Alex–enough. They’ve pulled together an amazing event.

So friends, readers, Natives…what does Indigenous New Media mean to you? What does the community around Native Appropriations/cultural appropriation/representations mean to you? What are some examples of where you think this type of activism works? Where doesn’t it work?

As always, thanks so much for your support and love–without all of you I’d just be shouting into the dark internet ether, and I don’t think that would get anything done, do you?

*Wikipedia (oh what a scholarly source) describes New Media as: “on-demand access to content anytime, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, and creative participation. Another aspect of new media is the real-time generation of new, unregulated content.”

  • jkuss

    On this podcast I listen to ( ), one guy is talking about going to a Miley Cyrus concert. He talks about 20 yr olds appropriating everything. Not as in stealing, but as in “that’s cool, I like that, I’ll use it.” and I think it’s relevant to your talk.

  • Eric J

    Your blog has helped me conceptualize the approaches I take towards discussions of appropriation (and re-appropriation) in the classes that I teach. It is also exciting when students become engaged in new media activity through their own blog posts. The issues associated with mascots are very relevant in Wisconsin, not only because of the 11 recognized tribes (and others that are not) who live here, but because the Washington football team comes to Green Bay from time to time. I hope to catch the symposium this weekend, it sounds so exciting–and congrats on the dissertation!

  • Theresa W.

    What I love about the internet — and reading your site — is that it provides an immediate link to what’s happening in the Native American world. Previously, most of my experience (aside from books) about Native culture was when I worked at the Newberry Library in Chicago, which has the fabulous Ayer Collection [see: And totally go visit it sometime!].

    I’ve been able to share articles about why it’s not cool to dress up as a Native American for Halloween; mention your blog to my Native American friends here in Australia/New Zealand; download A Tribe is Red’s music; and generally feel more educated. More so than when I was in the States!

  • Tanis Elise

    As an educator who is passionate about aboriginal issues specifically in British Columbia, where I belong, I love finding media such as your website that focuses on current events and native issues and how past issues are still causing repercussions now in society (a big one appropriations!). It’s great to have media tools, on top of many other resources, to share with students as they are highly connected through media these days. My favourites are your blog and the resources you provide! Other great resource I have used to help students consider their relationship with aboriginal people is CBC’s 8th Fire and Matika Wilbur’s work. All the best :)

  • jfkeeler

    For me it has been the Mascot issue. Our group Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry met over Twitter arguing with Redsk*ns fans and then proceeded to organize FCC Obscenity Filings events during games through our Facebook group. We got several hundred Native people all over the country involved. Then we were able to get Sonic to apologize for the racist Redsk*n/Chiefs sign that appeared during one of our FCC Filing actions. Then over the Super Bowl we trended nationally the hashtag #NotYourMascot. This time we had allies from the Asian American and African American community as well as Native people all over the country. We got 18,000 tweets during the Super Bowl alone and were able to increase the viewership of NCAI (who has been supporting us since the Sonic incident) video by half a million. None of this would have been possible through mainstream, traditional media.

    • Stacy Genobles

      I still wish they would change those team names.and get new mascots. The ones they have just perpetuate stereotypes. Even if the Chiefs and Redsk*ns logos were all positive images (they aren’t) it still wouldn’t feel right because the teams are not run by Native Americans, they don’t have Native American players, and most of the people waving banners and wearing shirts are not natives either. It is cultural appropriate and it matters.

  • It’s worth it. I love the work you do Adrienne.

  • Shaun Peterson

    It’s good for you to come out and be honest to say Native and non-Native alike question your motives. I think it’s been necessary. This has been a building tension that needs some kind of direction and social media is just a communication tool to connect us all and we are in that early stage I believe. It is to know that the feeling of being a ‘real Indian’ or “Indian Enough” is felt by others. I’m a visual artist working in traditional woodwork and graphics and have been transitioning into more video experimenting and social/political content. I have inspiration from the work you’ve done and what my friend Matika is doing with project 562. I feel that my parents generation who were removed from their culture (at least by attempts) suffer the wrath of media in their generation that helped foster these stereotypes and our own people have this feeling of being ‘Indian enough’ as a result. There are many issues tied to this and I can’t comment enough on how many times when working in a residency or public demonstration a non-Native person corrects me on how the “Indian way to do it” is not what I am doing correctly or that I am ‘cheating’ in my craft by not carving with stone tools and antlers. So many things to say. I am glad you have started a foundation for others to feel the dialogue has started. Looking forward to meeting you from the west coast over here. Good luck.

  • Katelyn Avery

    I keep coming back to your blog. I’m a white person from Connecticut for reference. If I thought what you were doing was pointless I wouldn’t keep reading. Native American’s aren’t represented much in the mainstream media. Blogs like this have allowed me to get an opinion from a Native Americans point of view. I don’t think you represent all Native’s or anything, its just good to get someones perspective.

  • Alex G

    I just found your blog today, so I can only speak to the impact this *type* of media has had on me, not your blog specifically.
    For me, there has been a huge impact. Before blogs and personalized videos, etc., I had never heard of white privilege or cultural appropriation. I’m not sure I would have learned about those concepts without online personal media outlets. I have seen people talk about white privilege on TV all of once or twice. I heard about it at school once (& it wasn’t a good conversation- largely because of my ignorance). It isn’t something that is discussed in the mainstream white US.
    Having access to “other” voices through online media outlets has fundamentally changed how I look at the world. It’s changed who I am.
    It’s also given me the opportunity to speak up and help educate others.
    There will always be people who disagree with what you do or think there are better ways to do it. My response to that opinion is that education and understanding are the necessary first step to action. Yes, we should definitely come up with concrete ways to improve things. In order to do that, however, we need to understand what it is that needs changed & why. Despite what people who are immersed in this area sometimes seem to think, the biggest obstacle isn’t outright hatred or antagonism- it is ignorance. Blogs and other media that educate people are *extremely* valuable.

  • vmokeefe

    I wish I had seen this earlier! I’m Cherokee/Seminole and doctoral student in Psychology at Oklahoma State. I’m currently doing research on microaggressions committed against Native peoples and how they are related to negative mental health outcomes. Data is collected and I will be publishing soon, there are a few (not many, which is why this is my area of research) others published in the last few years. I would love to talk more with you! Email:, twitter and IG: vmokeefe