Skip To Content
Paid Post

12 Native Americans Who Are Making A Difference

These Native Americans are standing up to represent their heritage and their culture. Watch some of them taking a stand on Rebel Music: Native America NOW, an MTV Facebook Premiere Exclusive.

1. The 1491s!music/rebel-music/feature/native-noise

Ryan Red Corn, Bobby Wilson, Migizi Pensoneau, Sterlin Harjo, and Dallas Goldtooth perform as the comedy group The 1491s. The videos they make poke fun at certain characteristics within Native American communities and take aim at the appropriation of indigenous culture.

2. Frank Waln


Raised on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Frank Waln discovered hip-hop when he saw something glistening in the sun on the side of a gravel road. It was a scratched-up copy of Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP. He took it home, and he says the record "blew his mind." Since then, Frank has used his music to raise awareness of Native American issues. He performs alongside other activist musicians like Willie Nelson and Neil Young.

3. Tessa McLean!music/rebel-music/feature/native-noise

Tessa, a young Ojibwe woman, is a United Nations North American Youth Delegate and is on the American Indian Movement of Colorado leadership council. She was mentored by the famous American Indian activist Winona LaDuke and has organized protests against Columbus Day in Denver.

4. Inez Jasper


Inez is one of Canada's top aboriginal musicians, and she's used this platform to bring awareness to how Native women have been mistreated. She cites the "thousands of missing or murdered indigenous women in this land" and uses her music as a safe way to reclaim their identity and sexuality.

5. Amanda Blackhorse!music/rebel-music/feature/native-noise

A Diné woman who is a psychiatric social worker by trade, Amanda Blackhorse has become a well-known activist for her fight against a certain football team in Washington, D.C. She is a plaintiff in the case that stripped the team of six of its seven trademarks. Her quest to change the name of the team continues.

6. Nataanii Means


Nataanii Means, a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation, was 12 years old when he began rapping in front of a mirror in his bedroom. Soon, he took his style and lyrics to school and, later, the recording studio. Means is slated to put out his debut album, 2 Worlds, which features Frank Waln on the track "Real Skinz."

7. Mike "Witko" Cliff!music/rebel-music/article/meet-the-artists

Witko, a street artist, graphic designer, and hip-hop artist, founded True Pride Music with Nataanii Means. The collective brings law students, graffiti artists, tattoo artists, filmmakers, and musicians together to "make something out of nothing." As a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation, Mike is using his art to shine light on the continuing battle to maintain Lakota land.

8. Bird Runningwater!music/rebel-music/feature/native-noise

A Cheyenne and Mescalero Apache, Bird Runningwater is the director of the Native American and Indigenous Program at the Sundance Institute. In his position, he endeavors to bring new Native voices to documentary and feature film.

9. Chaske Spencer!music/rebel-music/feature/native-noise

Best known for portraying Sam Uley in the Twilight movies, Chaske Spencer was given the Best Actor award at the 2012 American Indian Film Festival.

10. Adrienne Keene!music/rebel-music/feature/native-noise

A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Adrienne Keene is a fellow in Native American studies at Brown University and holds a doctorate from Harvard. Her blog, Native Appropriations, makes companies think twice about co-opting Native American culture.

11. Jeremiah Bitsui!music/rebel-music/feature/native-noise

Jeremiah Bitsui, of Diné and Omaha heritage, has an expansive resume as an actor. You may remember him best as Victor, the dude Gus Fring sliced open with a box cutter, on Breaking Bad.

12. Klee Benally!music/rebel-music/feature/native-noise

Klee Benally, a Diné, is a busy man. He's a musician, documentary film director, and project coordinator for Indigenous Action Media.

Watch Frank Waln, Inez Jasper, Nataanii Means, and Mike Cliff incite change in their communities through their art. Watch Rebel Music: Native America NOW, an MTV Facebook Exclusive.

Facebook: video.php