More and more Natives are getting access to the Internet and social media has begun to put cracks in the marginalization effect that has stifled so many voices. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WordPress have given a place for support among indigenous people to speak out and express themselves.
These media sources have created an easier base to communicate thoughts feelings and tribal issues. Which allows for intertribal correspondence on environmental issues, fundraising, pow wows, language reclamation and the connection of tribal traditions.
An example of social media influence on indigenous people, Twitter has impacted a movement called Idle No More. It started in 2012 as a small group of Canada First Nations people conducting teach-ins of government bills, laws and actions that have impacted the native people. The mass movement has now grown international recognition through social media for its strong environmental, historical and spiritual focus. Currently with 10 twitter pages for areas across the country and the main page reaching over 20 thousand followers, Idle No More has inspired many. Peaceful rallies, sit-ins and educational teach-ins continue to be conducted all over North America about similar Indigenous beliefs and rights.
It is in these successful social media impacted movements that smaller, local groups like the Shinnecock-Sewanaka Society, an 18 year old non-profit organization for the advancement and cultural preservation of the Shinnecock tribe of Long Island find hope at becoming a familiar name around New York and other surrounding states. These activities have affected Indigenous people’s morale across the world and lots of changes and improvements have begun.
However, while this technology has done wonders for certain indigenous communities, there are still so many who struggle to have minimal access to these forms of communication. Making populations unaware of the events that take place due to the poverty they face.
According to a census.gov poverty rate survey between 2007-2011, the amount of American Indians and Alaska Natives living in poverty are 27%, the highest in the nation. Due to the majority of Native people living in poverty, not having this access to basic Internet and broadband connection creates further setbacks. Being unable to speak up about certain issues to the rest of the country in a timely and reliable manner, people are being left behind and forgotten in such a fast-paced country like America.
Having been forced to live within dangerous circumstances without opportunities that are granted to so many others it is a struggle for hundreds of Native communities to survive on a daily basis. In many cases even to apply for minimal technology and even health services you now must apply online for grants and funding.
Currently, technology is direly needed in Indian country to improve and rebuild infrastructure, create new energy-efficiency and renewable resources, and continue intertribal and native to non-native communication.
With natives focusing more on receiving technological advancement and opportunities it has created a whole new platform for the impoverished native areas. It’s sparking a continuous amount of native people to speak up on social media for themselves and other voiceless natives, encouraging the acknowledgment of the power and significance within native people and demanding advancement.