Edmonton TikTok star uses app to educate 1M followers on Indigenous culture

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Edmonton TikTok star educating 1M followers on Indigenous culture
WATCH ABOVE: You've heard about the video app TikTok, but did you know a popular creator is right here in Edmonton? Morgan Black has more on one man who's using his influence to educate his followers on Indigenous culture – Aug 26, 2020

An Edmonton man is using his TikTok fame to teach his followers about Indigenous culture and history.

James Jones has quickly risen to online fame on the app, boasting one million followers.


Thank you all so much for the 1 million 🙏🏽 all the support means so much to me. More videos coming today. This is my happy dance. @sheafreak4jb1

♬ Not The Thermometer Slow Version – _.editedsounds

“I never take a dance video and do the exact same thing as everyone else. I’ll always put my own Indigenous perspective or my own personal spin on it,” Jones said.

The Edmonton creator began using the app in March while spending a lot of time at home. He started posting comedy videos on TikTok, without much traction.

“Then I thought I would switch to dance because I’m a dancer. [The video I did] blew up and went viral. I think it ended up getting almost three million views.”

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Jones can be seen dancing, performing skits and showing off his regalia and beadwork in various videos posted to the app.

The creator, who goes by the handle “NotoriousCree” online, said he’s passionate about sharing aspects of his culture.

“I feel like a lot of the time, our stories are told by non-Indigenous people so it’s really important to have that representation within our community.”

In a recent video Jones, who is from the Tallcree First Nation, explained why he wears his hair long and in braids.

“I was taught that, as Indigenous people, our hair is an extension of our spirit. I always braid my hair with positive thoughts so I can carry that energy with me throughout the day,” Jones explained in the video. “It wasn’t that long ago my people were forced to cut their hair in residential schools. I braid my hair to honour my ancestors.


Comment your hair teachings #braids #culture #hair #ancestors

♬ original sound – notoriouscree

Hoop dancing is also a prominent feature in the video. Jones said the dance style represents healing and is also used in storytelling.

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Hoop dance version & guest starring random people :) #nativetiktok #indigenous #SummerWorkout #foryou #NatureVibes

♬ Love Story Discolines – ethanishung

Jones said he’s been speaking out on social media about movements he is passionate about, but is only now seeing tangible traction.

“I remember talking about Idle No More, Standing Rock, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women on other platforms. It would never get any traction. I feel with TikTok you can actually tell your story, raise awareness and tell it like you want to tell it. It can just blow up.”

The TikTok star said he gets a lot of positive messages from his Indigenous followers.

“I get a lot of people saying ‘I wasn’t raised in my community’ or ‘I was adopted, I never knew about this stuff. I’m so thankful you’re sharing.’ Those are the comments I really enjoy,” Jones said. “There are also the trolls and the negative people … that comes with the territory. I try to focus on the positive.”

He said an exciting moment was becoming “verified” on TikTok, alongside a few other Indigenous creators.

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“There’s so many amazing POC [people of colour] creators on the app. I’ve learned so much personally. Even though I am an educator, I also learn so much. It feels so grassroots.”
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Jones said the past six months have been a whirlwind, including interviews with Vogue and Buzzfeed.

“I’m starting to realize how many people you can reach through social media and how good things can come from it,” Jones said. “But, I still feel like [nothing will change] what I create. I’m still going to talk about what needs to be talked about. I’m still going to raise awareness about what’s happening in my community and Indigenous communities in general.”

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