Indigenous Streamers Raise Their Voices
A group of Indigenous Twitch streamers has launched their own Native American Heritage Month after the streaming giant reportedly ignored requests for an official event.
November is Native American Heritage Month in the United States. The event provides an opportunity to celebrate the nation’s diverse indigenous cultures and peoples. However, Twitch users may have been none the wiser given the streaming giant’s silence on the event.
Twitch has never run an official Native American Heritage Month campaign, despite overwhelming support for one to be implemented. And so, the Indigenous streaming community took matters into their own hands.
On November 15, Diné streamer WitchyTwitchy, who has 66,000 followers on Twitch, announced the launch of a grassroots Native American Heritage Month. The launch video features 16 Indigenous streamers introducing their channels and content:
- Zoexrain (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma)
- TheCroShow (Coast Salish/Kwaguitl)
- WitchTwitchy (Diné)
- RiversEagle (Métis)
- Alinainverse (Muscogee Nation)
- One_True_Native (Dakota Sioux)
- Riahontas (Navajo)
- AtopDerekMountain (Massachusett Natick Praying Indian)
- SimplyAretha (Kashechewan First Nation)
- Heepoh (Chumash)
- Jin__o7 (Anishinaabe Ojibwe (Peguis First Nation))
- Asananica Greenriver (BorderlineEntertainment) (Numunuu)
- Malliumpkin (Mescalero Apache)
- BewitchedChula (Diné & Pueblo)
- Digimanda (Peskotomuhkati & Santee Sioux)
- Zelestia (Tlingit)
The video highlighting the creators follows a wide variety of activities from the community over the first two weeks of the month.
Native American Heritage Month is more important than ever
However, low visibility on Twitch is not the sole concern of the Indigenous streaming community. The rights of America’s Indigenous population face a major threat in court. The legal battle over the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 is being championed by many Indigenous streamers. However, the low visibility on Twitch (and the decline of platforms such as Twitter) makes it harder for them to spread their message.
The ICWA is legislation regarding Indigenous sovereignty and tribal rights when it comes to the relocation of children. Specifically, the legislation mandates that, wherever possible, Indigenous children remain within Indigenous communities in matters of custody, foster care, and adoption. The legislation curtailed a long history of Indigenous children being removed from their communities in order to live with white families.
The law is currently being challenged by Jennifer and Chad Brackeen, a white couple from Texas who sued after facing an ICWA challenge to their adoption of a 10-month-old Navajo and Cherokee boy in 2016. Oral arguments were heard in the Supreme Court as recently as November 9, 2022.
If the conservative-leaning Court, which dealt a massive blow to tribal rights in June, rules in favor of the Brackeens, it would be a crushing blow to Indigenous rights. Furthermore, America’s 537 Federally-recognized Indigenous tribes could be left vulnerable to major legal repercussions. Ruling the ICWA unconstitutional could result in further legal battles from non-Indigenous adoptors previously affected by the law. Additionally, it could lead to groups filing lawsuits to strike down other legislation that protects Indigenous rights.
The grassroots Native American Heritage Month led by WitchyTwitchy and her fellow Indigenous streamers will continue for the remainder of November.
Disclaimer: This article has used the term “indigenous” to describe its subjects. Jaxon acknowledges that this is not the sole descriptor for the individuals in question and that the preferred terminology is wholly theirs to dictate. Please refer to the provided sources for further information about the terminology regarding America’s indigenous populations.
Update: A previous version of this article detailed some of Twitch’s previous campaigns that championed and highlighted diversity on the platform. This was removed at the request of the organizers of the Native American Heritage Month event. The organizers informed Jaxon that they had been careful not to single out prior campaigns in their own work and requested Jaxon’s reporting reflect this also.