Growing up in Utqiagvik, Patuk Glenn struggled with her identity in part because nobody on Nickelodeon, MTV, or VH1 looked like her. “I always told myself that someday I would create media so that the next generation would know that their way of life carries so much beauty and ingenuity,” Glenn says.
Now grown and married with two kids, Glenn is creating indigenous content on a platform where many of today’s youth get their pop culture fix: TikTok. Glenn, who lives in Eagle River and is the executive director of the Arctic Slope Community Foundation, first downloaded the app at the suggestion of her daughter. She felt compelled to create relatable Native videos when she noticed the lack of Inupiaq content on the platform. Her videos cover a wide array of cultural education, humor, entertainment, and spinoffs of the latest trend. Whether it’s a clip teaching viewers about traditional whale harvesting or a goofy video poking fun at her dad’s dancing, all of Glenn’s videos involve some element of Inupiaq culture.
She’s amassed more than 125,000 followers and over two million likes on TikTok. Glenn says she’s had many positive interactions with followers and other media creators. She’s heard from parents homeschooling their kids and using her videos as cultural education. She’s also heard from young girls thanking her for a renewed sense of pride in their heritage. “All too often we have media outlets run stories on us with their lens focused on their objectives,” Glenn says. “With TikTok, anyone can tell the story; and it is so very important for Inupiaq people to tell their own story, from their own point of view.”