Things That Matter

This Indigenous Tik Tok Star Gained a Massive Following By Showing Off the Beauty of Her Culture

Photo: tiamiscihk/Instagram

November is National Native American Heritage Month, a month that is dedicated yearly to the recognition of the indigenous peoples and tribes who are native to North America.

The month is incredibly important because it serves to shine a spotlight on the many groups of people that have been historically oppressed and colonized by European settlers. And thanks to the accessibility of the internet, it is now easier than ever for educators to use social media to educate the world about indigenous cultures.

@tiamiscihk

HAIR TEACHING.❤️💇🏻‍♀️ #hair #indigenous #WellDone #canada #nativeamerican #selflove inspired by @the_land ✊🏽

♬ Dear Katara – L.Dre

One of the most engaging and informative educators online is Tik Tok influencer Tia Wood, a singer, dancer and artist of the Plains Cree people of Canada. Tia Wood’s stunning and colorful videos spotlight her indigenous heritage and have gained her a massive following on Tik Tok.

Tia Wood gained internet fame when her Tik Tok video of her mother helping her dress in traditional Plains Cree garb went viral. The touching video shows Wood’s mother reciting the haunting poem ‘Brown Eyes’ by Nadia McGhee, while brushing her hair, braiding it, and helping Wood get dressed. The powerful verses tell a story of the pervasive nature of European beauty standards and the insidious effects they can have on a brown girl’s psyche.

“Her eyes are blue/Yours are brown,” the poem goes. “Hers represents the ocean/Yours represents the ground/You’ve always hated your eyes/And wished that they were blue/But your eyes have a tint of gold/So rare it must not be true.” And on it continues.

The performance itself is breathtaking. Wood begins the video looking forlorn, ostensibly unhappy with her appearance. But as Wood’s mother continues to help her daughter dress in her traditional clothing, Wood’s face brightens, her mood transforms. She sees the beauty of her own face, body, and culture in its own right.

The “Brown Eyes” Tik Tok video racked up over 6 million views and gave Wood more of a platform and a voice to educate her followers on indigenous culture, customs, and history.

On her Tik Tok account, Wood shows her 1.3 million followers the beauty of her people’s music, clothing, and art. She dances, she sings, she interprets Western music through an indigenous lens. She educates her followers on why cultural appropriation is offensive. She explains why the story of Pocahontas was not a princess fairy tale.

Indigenous influencers like Tia Wood are using the power of social media to challenge widely accepted European standards of beauty. We are lucky that we live in a time when learning about other people’s cultures is as easy as the click of a mouse.

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This App Can Tell You The Indigenous History Of The Land You Live On

Things That Matter

This App Can Tell You The Indigenous History Of The Land You Live On

Erika Reid / Getty Images

Wondering about the Indigenous heritage of your city, your neighborhood or even your street? Well, there’s an app for that. Native Land, a Canadian nonprofit, has mapped Indigenous territories across North America, South America, and parts of Europe and Asia. 

For all the selfish and banal uses of social media out there, sometimes developers use the geolocative capabilities of smartphones to make the world a more inclusive place.

This app looks at the history of a place and reveals how it was originally organized by the traditional owners of the land before processes of colonization and dispossession reshaped the maps of what is now known as the Americas. This app is digitizing Indigenous history, so next time you step on indigenous land you can quietly acknowledge it. 

Native Land is the app to better understand the extent of Indigenous communities around the world.

Whose land are you on? Start with a visit to native-land.ca. Native Land is both a website and an app that seeks to map Indigenous languages, treaties, and territories across Turtle Island. You might type in New York, New York, for example, and find that the five boroughs are actually traditional Lenape and Haudenosaunee territory.

On the website and in the app, you can enter the ZIP code or Canadian or American name for any town. The interactive map will zoom in on your inquiry, color-code it, and pull up data on the area’s Indigenous history, original language, and tribal ties.

The project is run by Victor Temprano out of British Columbia, Canada. A self-described “settler,” he said that the idea came to him while driving near his home—traditional Squamish territory. He saw many signs in the English language with the Squamish original place names indicated in parentheses underneath. He thought to himself, “Why isn’t the English in brackets?”

As a ongoing project, the app clearly states that: “This map does not represent or intend to represent official or legal boundaries of any Indigenous nations. To learn about definitive boundaries, contact the nations in question. Also, this map is not perfect — it is a work in progress with tons of contributions from the community. Please send us fixes if you find errors”.

Ready to find out more about the place that you call home? Click here

Remember: maps are only political and not set on stone, so the map you know was drawn by colonial powers.

Credit: Native Land

Contrary to what we might believe, maps are hardly set in stone. In fact, how a territory is named and where boundaries sit is evidence of historical processes through which lands are taken.

Just look at this map of North America and think about all the blood that has been shed by the original owners of the land just so we can identify only three countries today. There were hundreds of discreet ethnic groups in Canada, Mexico and the United States before the European superpowers of Britain, France and Spain landed and created havoc. 

But the past is past, right? So why should we care? Well, we should care, a lot, particularly in today’s political climate. Let’s take this map of the California area as an example.

Credit: Native Land

So why is becoming familiar with the indigenous past of place important? Because it tells us that the borders that exist today are practically a human invention rather than something set in stone, and that unless you have Indigenous heritage, we are all guests.

California, for example, was populated by a wide variety of peoples who were conquered by the Spanish or assimilated into mestizo culture through religion and language. So when white supremacists get all “America for the Americans” on Brown folk, they should be reminded that the land is and has always been Indigenous.

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Google Paid Tribute To Mariachi Music With A Doodle And Break Out The Mezcal Because It’s Gonna Give You Tears!

Things That Matter

Google Paid Tribute To Mariachi Music With A Doodle And Break Out The Mezcal Because It’s Gonna Give You Tears!

ULISES RUIZ / Getty

Mariachi is officially getting the search engine clout it deserves!

Google Doodle’s latest feature celebrates the musical genre of mariachi. As an ode to the anniversary of the week that UNESCO inscribed mariachi on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The genre of Regional Mexican music goes back to the 18th century.

Google’s latest Doodle features an animated video of mariachi serenading.

Remote file
Google

Singing “Cielito Lindo,” which is a song that encaptures Mexican pride, the doodle features a band of mariachi members.

Together they sing the following lyrics”De la Sierra Morena/cielito lindo, vienen bajando/Un par de ojitos negros/cielito lindo, de contrabando/ Ay, ay, ay, ay/Canta y no llores/Porque cantando se alegran/cielito lindo, los corazones.”

The lyrics translate to “From the Sierra Morena/Lovely sweet one, is prancing down/A pair of little black eyes/Lovely sweet one, is sneaking by/ Ay, ay, ay, ay/Sing, don’t cry/Because singing makes rejoice/Lovely sweet one, our hearts.”

For the doodle, the mariachi band wears traditional trajes de charro (charro suits) while strumming the traditional instruments of the genre.

Plucking away at the guitarrón, vihuela, and violin, other members use a trumpet and harp. According to Newsweek, “The tradition of mariachi originated in west-central Mexico around the turn of the 19th century, though its exact origins are murky. The musical genre began as entirely instrumental, made up of the sounds of stringed instruments, before vocals and the trumpet were eventually added.”

No doubt Google’s latest Doodle has won over the hearts of various searchers.

“What a beautiful tribute… thank you!” one user wrote.

“The Google doodle for today is a tribute to mariachis & it’s a little video that plays cielito lindo I am not okay, cielito lindo is my favorite mariachi song, it’s too cute,” another commented while another user wrote “I was so shocked when I clicked on this last night. What a wonderful surprise.”

Sweetly, the doodle really seemed to hit home for so many. “The Google Doodle today nearly made me cry,” one very happy user noted. “It was so unexpected and made me miss home for the first time since I moved.”

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