Indigenous connections and social media: Māori involvement in the events at Standing Rock

Fremaux, India
Frommherz, Gudrun
Henry, Ella
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

The whirlwind development of digital ICTs has had significant implications for Indigenous peoples and their movements towards social and political change. Digital ICTs facilitate global Indigenous connections, assist the rapid diffusion of information and present a decentralised outlet for Indigenous perspectives. However, for Indigenous groups, issues of access, cultural appropriation and misrepresentation remain. With the aid of digital ICTs, the Standing Rock movement successfully united Indigenous cultures across the world. This research focuses on Māori in Aotearoa (New Zealand) who expressed passionate support on social media and even travelled thousands of kilometres to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux. The aim of this study is to determine the interest and involvement of Māori in these events via the qualitative analysis of two data sets drawn from participants; in-depth interviews and personal social media posts. Each participant was chosen for their vociferous support of the Standing Rock movement and their identification as Māori. The findings revealed that while participant interest stemmed from a number of areas, particularly pertaining to Indigenous affinity and kinship, it was social media that initiated and sustained that interest. These results indicate that there are deep connections between Māori and the Standing Rock Sioux and the role of social media in facilitating and maintaining those connections was complex. Social media was used by participants to share information, encourage involvement, post updates on the events and present Indigenous perspectives and content. On this basis, it is recommended that more specific research on social media and its uses for Indigenous connection is completed to achieve exhaustive results. This study provides a solid base that may be applied to other Indigenous groups in their movements toward change.

Indigenous , Māori , Native American , Standing Rock , connections , social media , activism , cyberactivism , self-determination , social change , political change
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