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Native People are coming into our own in American pop culture.

MTV has been stepping up to the plate in the acknowledgement of indigenous people in North America. Last week, MTV premiered its first episode of the new season of the show, ‘Rebel Music.’ Last year, the series made a huge impact on audiences. This season’s premiere, just shy of 20min features, Indigenous musical artists and activists from the US and Canada. Amongst the artists featured is Redbud Souix rapper, Frank Waln, First Nations singer Inez Jasper, and Souix rappers, Nataanii Means and Mike “Witko” Cliff.

The musically talented individuals are all teaming up to create a more inspired native youth. Like many in this generation believe, they feel that it is time for today’s “7th Generation” of Native people to take the torch from the elder’s and speak up about social issues in Indian country; give back to the community; bring positive feelings to indigenous people; and reach out to those who don’t know of indigenous struggles.

These “rebel” leaders are using their words and music to send teachings and motivation to carry on the culture and strength so precious to indigenous survival.

Watch the full length premiere on Facebook, or below.

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MTV show films the life of an Indigenous woman.

Courtesy of E! News Online
Courtesy of E! News Online
Inupiat Eskimo cast member, Jackie.  Courtesy of MTV
Inupiat Eskimo cast member, Jackie.
Courtesy of MTV

The MTV Reality show, Slednecks had its debut episode on Thursday evening. In the hour and half episode, audiences were introduced to a group of friends in Wasilla, Alaska, a town made popular by Sarah Palin.

Within the first episode, the audience had seen an array of different personalities, from Sierra and Kelly a couple living in a run-down home that the two seem to provide temporary and crummy fixes to. However, the rest of the group and within a lot of the Wasilla area seem to have the same living situations. Other members of the rowdy group include, Dylan, Zeke, Trevor, “Big” Mike, Tosca, Samantha, Amber, and Hali.

The show also features a girl, Jackie, who is Inupiat Eskimo that moved to Wasilla from the Arctic Circle. She, among her friends is ostracized in a way because of her heritage and conservativeness. Mid-way through the episode her father comes to see Jackie’s birthday party ad friends. When he arrives he is at the party in a winter and hooded wolf coat, he is not only received with surprise but he is surprised with the goings on at the party. The friends were playing a drinking game that incorporated strip poker and the game quarters.

Later on in the show, Sierra tries to get Jackie to use her culture as a means of profit by convincing her to pose for the “Wild Woman of Alaska” calendar. While Jackie does go along with it she doesn’t flaunt herself in a bikini like the others did, instead she wore a fur coat she received from her family for her birthday. All whilst her peers teased her about her outfit.

In many cases most viewers probably wouldn’t have seen these scenes as offensive and in more ways than one evidence of privilege in Western and more specifically American society. Much of the indigenous people as well as their culture have become sexualized. People see it in Halloween costumes, movies, and now this “reality” show. However, the fact that Jackie stuck with her own comforts as well as standards regardless of her friends trying to convince her to do what she seems to feel as objectifying herself, sets a standard for others watching the show that are indigenous people or otherwise. In many cases it also is an eye opener as to how pressuring society is on showing skin for anyone, although in history it is very common for indigenous women in entertainment.

In the Huffington Post article, the MTV President, Stephen Friedman, is attempting to show some of the other Native American and indigenous cast members’ cultures and how they collide with others.

It will be interesting and perhaps insightful to see the rest of the series’ and how the native cast is portrayed in entertainment.