As people seek new activities and hobbies to keep busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, one man is using the extra time to teach others about Cree culture on the popular video-making app TikTok.
James Jones, better known by his TikTok handle notorious Cree, started making videos in March when the thick of lockdowns were in effect.
“For so long and even now today our voices are not really heard on a lot of platforms. You know we’re not really in any of the mainstream media a lot of times so you know a lot of people they kind of forget Indigenous people are still here, they’re strong and there’s a lot of us so I think it’s important to share my culture,” Jones told APTN News.
He has since grown a following of more than 600,000 people and it’s growing daily. He hopes his audience can learn something about Indigenous culture when they see his videos.
“Tansi, one of the most common questions I get asked is why I have long hair, why I wear my hair in braids. I was taught that as Indigenous people, our hair is an extension of our spirit and to always braid my hair with positive thoughts so I can carry that energy with me throughout the day,” stated Jones in one of his videos.
“It wasn’t long ago my people were forced to cut their hair in residential schools, so I braid my hair to honour my ancestors.”
Jones hails from the Tallcree First Nation in Alberta and does everything from comedy sketches to Indigenous hoop dances and personal messages to share with his audience.
As an influencer, Jones also hopes he can have an impact on the younger generation.
“I have a lot of younger youth and stuff that follow me on TikTok and I feel it’s important for them to know about their culture as well, that they can be proud. If young boys want to grow out their hair then they should and they should be proud of it.”
What started out as something to pass the time, has turned into a lifestyle for the rising TikTok star.