Making space, taking space: Indigenous media

“What do you do when you wake up on a daily basis and the news around you, the media, music, movies & the television you consume does not represent you & you can’t connect with it?

You make your own media.” – Ryan McMahon

The costs associated with creating independent, Indigenous media, have up to this point been prohibitive. Many of those publications or radio shows that managed to find funding have seen that funding slashed, and Indigenous language programs, or Indigenous reporting, have dwindled in mainstream media. Despite the creation of things like the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) and CBC Aboriginal, the landscape is still shockingly bare of Indigenous perspectives.

Non-traditional “new media” has suddenly made independent Indigenous media more affordable and accessible. So far, this has resulted in an upsurge of social media usage among Indigenous peoples, as well as a shift towards digital publications. Slowly, ever so slowly, other possibilities are being imagined as well.

Ryan McMahon, Ojibwe comedian and great believer in Indigenous media.

Unfortunately, though the costs of creating Indigenous media platforms have gone down, Indigenous media is not particularly profitable, and likely will not be for quite some time. This means that those people trying to create and take up space, are doing so on a mostly volunteer, out-of-pocket basis. As a result, there has been no major explosion of Indigenous media, no huge upsurge of podcasts, tv shows, newspapers, blogs, and so forth. Just a slow, but very important, trickle.

Ryan McMahon is trying to change that. A dabbler in multitudinous platforms, Ryan seems to be trying to start an Indigenous media revolution… and the thing is, this could be totally possible, if we all got on board!

On October 6th, Indian & Cowboy productions officially launched. Its mission statement reads as follows:

Indian & Cowboy is an independent Indigenous media company that creates, produces & publishes Indigenous media projects across multiple platforms on the internet & for broadcast media.

We’re a network of media makers, artists, storytellers, musicians & producers that aim to disrupt, engage & empower.

The first thing Indian & Cowboy did upon launch, was feature six podcast shows. In addition to his long-running, ground-breaking Red Man Laughing podcast, and the all-too satisfying Ryan McMahon Gets Angry podcast, you can now listen to:

  • Stories From the Land, hosted by Hayden King: a collection of Indigenous community sourced stories that connect Indigenous Peoples to place with the aim of reinforcing worldview, philosophies & teachings.
  • Knives and Wildrice:a podcast that takes you behind the scenes of the making of a brand new studio album by Anishinaabe singer/songwriter Nick Sherman. Knives & Wildrice will give the world an unprecedented look at the successes, failures, challenges and victories of being an emerging talent on the rise.
  • Métis In Space: a decolonial sci-fi review podcast by two Métis women in space, Molly Swain & Chelsea Vowel. Listen as they break down tropes, themes & the hidden meanings behind the whitest genre of film & television ever known.
  • Treaty: a collection of histories, stories & factual accounts of the formation of this experiment we now call Canada. Often, history is shared through the eyes of the dominant culture – The Treaty Podcast takes that history back and retells it through an Indigenous lens. (Still forthcoming)

Indigenous media literally went from having one or two podcasts out there in Indian country, to six, all in a span of days. Indian & Cowboy is asking folks to pitch new podcast ideas, and is trying to gather as many Indigenous voices, perspectives and interests together as possible.

Make no mistake, the man behind Indian & Cowboy is earnest, and heart-breakingly devoted to creating and promoting Indigenous media. I say heart-breakingly, because the moment you become even slightly aware of how much work it takes to create and maintain space for Indigenous voices, you quickly realise that this is a Herculean labour of love, not a profit-making venture. Media mogul riding high on the profits, Ryan McMahon is not. Labour of love and “being able to feed my family” are all too often mutually exclusive, and that needs to end.

storiesIndian & Cowboy productions is not just about podcasts, that just happens to be what it is focusing on right now. With support, with help, Indigenous media can and will expand into every conceivable nook and cranny, including platforms not even invented yet. But this Indigenous media revolution will not be funded by government or resource-extraction companies. If we want Indigenous media, we are going to have to make it happen.

metisThat means getting involved. Tell a story! Pitch a show! Think outside of podcasts, think big, think wild, think free, think Indigenous, and MAKE IT HAPPEN. If you don’t want to create the content, then support the content. You can become a supporter of Indian & Cowboy for as little as $10 a month, giving you access to all the amazing content already available, as well as all the content yet to come. Skip two double doubles at Timmy’s a month, and make Indigenous media a reality.

knivesIf this sounds like a pitch, it is. No one is going to do this for us, and why would we want them to anyway? I’ve personally had enough of people talking for and about us. I want to hear OUR stories, our voices. I challenge you to go listen to some of the new content being promoted by Indian & Cowboy, because I believe that it will inspire you. I can’t package that for you, can’t explain it in a way that will make sense, you just have to experience it…and it is literally just sitting there, waiting for you to check it out.

êkosi.

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