‘Go Cry Over Someone Else’s Tragedy’: The YouTube Activism of The 1491s

Jeff Berglund


This article examines the activist role played by the comedy troupe, The 1491s, in social media spaces, particularly on YouTube. Since 2009 The 1491s have used the positive energy of comedy to galvanise others, with a particular emphasis on shaping the ways Indigenous peoples are seen, how Indigenous peoples see themselves, and how changes might lead Indigenous people to think critically about the conditions under which they are living. In addition to examining their comedic output, this article discusses the videos which honour Indigenous resilience and advocate for political causes; these efforts are also supported by their production infrastructure and disseminated via their YouTube channel. Strategically disseminating their videos to a global audience through YouTube, The 1491s should be seen as a major force in social change, inspiring Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences alike, many of whom interact and form a core fanbase despite being separated by time and space.


YouTube; Social Media; Activism; Indigenous; Comedy; Resilience

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v21i0.1581

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ISSN: Online: 1326-2238 Hard copy: 1449-8618
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