Community people. Creatives. Leaders. Activists likely to get arrested doing what needs done and who I can support with money for bail and legal fees. Those are the people in Indigenous Studies who I seek out on social media.
Right now, I am following several Native/First Nations chefs and food sovereignty activists. Because I am trying to drop some pounds and, therefore, hungry. I am also impressed by how they address specialist topics to general audiences. They also have better pictures than historians because, well, food. But in all seriousness, I look to this part of my social media network – beyond the academy – to explain why Indigenous rights matters, particularly to non-Native people, who are the majority of my students. I can teach about the historical processes through which settlers displaced Native peoples all day, but the information I am able to access through social media enables me to make historical content relevant. For example, I recently quoted in lecture from a post tracing the interconnections between a chief’s efforts to find an ethically sourced product for restaurant use and the historical loss of access to land bases. It made tangible the ongoing impact of colonization. If you can’t access your traditional homelands, you can’t eat the foods you once obtained from them, and you experience the negative health outcomes of a non-traditional (read processed American) diet. Students need to know this is happening today because American culture confines Native peoples to the past. Social media challenges that disappearance, which is one of the cool and positive outcomes of this technology. Also important, sharing food, of course, was and is one of the primary ways that Native societies have created networks of kin and turned strangers into allies. I am virtual feasting. Yum.
I like and share these posts, but I rarely comment unless I have had a conversation with the person face-to-face. (It feels strange to me. Maybe I will work past that. Is that social media-social networking-social anxiety?! I am increasingly connected to people I don’t know off of social media, and I realize that I am artificially limiting the usefulness of this part of my life.) In part, this is because I believe that as a non-Native scholar who is present in spaces that Indigenous people are using to share their stories, it is my place to listen. I seek to amplify their words to the scholars and students in my networks and classroom who might not otherwise hear them.
The photo I selected is of pumpkin and corn soup with an Anasazi spiral symbol — an edible @? Prepared by Kiowa chief Lois Frank. Photo by Paul Fredrich.