Part 2: 14 reasons 2021 didn’t totally suck. PS: it’s mostly because of Indigenous youth and their acts of resistance
Here’s part-two of why we’re not giving up on 2021 just yet. If you missed part-one you can check it out here.
Part 2: Acts of Resistance: Art and Representation
- Karmella Cen Benedito De Barros (Nêhiyaw and Afro-Brazilian) and jaye simpson (Oji-Cree-Salteaux) – Hosts of the Indigenous Brilliance Podcast
The Indigenous Brilliance podcast, produced by ROOM magazine, is a conversational and poetic look at the different forms Indigenous Brilliance can take. From creative writing to tattooing to community work to the importance of Indigenous representation — hosts jaye and Karmella draw out stories of Indigneous experience and activism with care and passion. With music by Edzi’u and show art by Sylvie Sampson, this podcast highlights the resistance to colonialism and the (often youth-led) movements of Indigenous and IndigiQueer communities.
- Scott Wabano (Eeyou Istchee – Cree)
If it’s not obvious yet in this series, Indigenous youth have been craving representation in pop culture, media and stories. Growing up without seeing yourself reflected in the world around you can feel isolating: a lot of Indigenous youth are becoming the role models they wish they’d had growing up. Scott Wabano, 2Spirit Eeyou fashion designer/stylist, is a great example of this! They have been working to create safer spaces for 2Spirit/IndigiQueer Youth in urban settings through fashion, representation, and as an ambassador for the We Matter Campaign.
- Joseph Sarenhes (Afro-Wendat)
With the release of his single Stand Up, Joseph Sarenhes launched a new anthem that tells the true story of Indigenous experience in Canada. This young singer, rapper, composer and all-around talented and versatile creator is uplifting and celebrating Indigenous history, traditional music and stories. He does it all through the lens of an Afro-Indigenous youth who is in tune with the current trends and the fluidity of culture. You can check out his new EP, Pride and Chains here.
- Paulina Alexis (Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation), Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs (Kahnawake Mohawk Territory), D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai (Oji-Cree), & Lane Factor (Caddo and Seminole Creek)
I can’t write about Indigenous representation in 2021 without bringing up Reservation Dogs. The release of the Reservation Dogs series this year was a major step for Indigenous youth to see themselves represented in popular culture. A common thread throughout this whole article is young Indigenous folks seeking to see themselves represented in the world around them. When that wasn’t happening…they made it happen. This popular show is pivotal for so many Indigenous youth across the globe and the young actors in this show are the heart of the series.
With roots in land and water defense, the Snotty Nose Rez Kids continue to represent Indigenous stories and sovereignty through their music. This year they released a new album, Life After (which you can check out here); it lives up to the intensity, passion and energy that they have been bringing for years. Giving us the vibes we all need in 2021, SNRK are showing up for community with vital, rooted resistance.
- Aïcha Bastien N’diaye – Wendat endi’ / AfroIndigenous
In a world where we are increasingly seated in front of screens, we can draw inspiration from movement artists like Aïcha. She uses dance and movement as a way to resist oppression and hate. Grounding herself in her AfroIndigenous cultures, she dances in a way that inspires others to express themselves while reclaiming their identities.
Through creative practices and by bringing skills sharing to remote communities, N’we jinan is amplifying Indigenous youth across the nation. Since its inception in 2014, this multimedia skills sharing program has involved over 900 Indigenous youth participants across 70 different communities. You can watch the music videos the youth have created here. More recently, N’we jinan started a program called ArtWorks: Exploring Creative Pathways with Indigenous Youth, which is a three-year program to support emerging artists in building employability and entrepreneurial skills. With a focus on mentorship, N’we jinan is opening up opportunities for Indigenous youth to thrive through the arts.
This two-part list is in no way an exhaustive catalog of the Indigenous youth who are undoing colonialism through their acts of resistance (Look forward to future installments on visual arts and beading). Indigenous youth across the globe are reclaiming culture and pushing back against corporate agendas. We shouldn’t have to wait until the end of the year to celebrate them. In 2022, let’s practice amplifying Indigenous youth every day. Take our 2021 quiz and share your Indigi(s)heroes with us! #365Indigenous