James Jones, renowned as Notorious Cree, has left an indelible mark on the powwow circuit, showcasing his extraordinary dance skills at prestigious events such as the Sunchild Cree Nation powwow and the Samson Cree Nation gathering. These gatherings drew in more than 900 powwow dancers from across Turtle Island. Beyond his exceptional powwow dance abilities, Jones is equally known for his passionate advocacy. His mesmerizing hoop dancing, an Indigenous healing dance symbolizing the circle of life, has garnered him fame on platforms like TikTok.
Notorious Cree’s influence extends far and wide, boasting a social media following exceeding 5 million on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. He has truly become a global advocate for Indigenous empowerment.
Jones expressed his deep appreciation for being at Samson Cree Nation Powwow stating, “Being here with family and friends is always a special experience for me.” He keenly observes a noticeable shift among Indigenous youth today—a growing pride in their identity that wasn’t as pronounced during his own youth. He further notes, “I’ve noticed an increasing number of young men embracing their long hair as a cultural statement.”
Reflecting on the resurgence of traditional roles within Indigenous communities, particularly the revitalization of aunt and uncle roles, which play a crucial role in guiding and educating the youth, Jones remarks, “These are changes that I didn’t witness during my upbringing,” clearly delighted by these positive developments.
Jones goes on to discuss the Cree Family Structure, where everyone has a place in the inclusive kinship. Although he didn’t explicitly mention “Wahkohtowin,” he is describing the traditional Indigenous family structure encompassed by this concept.
According to the University of Alberta website, “Wahkohtowin” is a Cree term that embodies the idea of interconnectedness within relationships, communities, and natural systems. While it translates to “kinship,” it is more commonly used to describe Cree law or codes of conduct. In the Cree language, “nêhiyaw wiyasowêwina” means “Cree laws,” but “wahkohtowin” is preferred to emphasize an individual’s responsibilities and relationships within their community. This makes it a more intricate concept than a simple translation of “law.” Wahkohtowin encompasses a set of obligations tied to one’s role within their community, in contrast to the strict, positivistic rules commonly found in Western legal systems.
Jones spoke fervently about his involvement in youth engagement, reflecting on earlier times when many Indigenous youths lacked enthusiasm for engaging in powwows or delving into their rich cultural heritage. Today, he’s witnessed a remarkable shift. Jones commented, “Now, as we visit schools and connect with young people, we see them proudly embracing their Indigenous roots and expressing a deep sense of pride in their origins.”
“This genuinely fills me with pride for our community; our youth are wholeheartedly embracing their Indigenous identity,” Jones remarked.
Throughout his career as an advocate, Jones has played a pivotal role in nurturing positive role models for Cree males. Even before gaining fame on TikTok, he was already on a path to becoming an influential Cree figure who inspired the next generation of young Cree boys. This legacy contributes significantly to the Indigenous archetype of male role models.
A brief background on James Jones, recognized as Notorious Cree, highlights his deep pride in representing Nehiyaw (Cree) heritage. With a substantial global following of over 5 million on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, James utilizes his voice and talents to empower Indigenous communities worldwide. As a traditional powwow dancer, performance artist, youth workshop facilitator, and public speaker, he inspires future generations to embrace their culture. James’s extraordinary journey includes performances at prestigious events such as the 2010 Winter Olympics, the 2014 and 2022 Juno Awards, the 2015 Pan Am Games, Coachella, and a previous appearance as a contestant on SYTYCD Canada.
To witness James Jones in action, be sure to check out his TikTok account @NotoriousCree.
By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Sep 02, 2023