When Raquel Quinones first dove into the world of content creation, she had no idea how to identify herself in the digital landscape. “Should I be who I want to be or who my audience wanted me to be?” she recalls asking herself.
But for Raquel, better known as KelsAFunnyGirl across her social media platforms, struggling to place herself in the world had always been a challenge. The daughter of a single mother, her family moved around often, causing her to struggle socially — and to question where she belonged.
“I grew up half of my life living in the city and half of my life living on the reservation. I didn’t really fit in anywhere,” she told In The Know by Yahoo. “I was ‘too Native’ for the white kids and ‘too white’ for the Native kids.”
A citizen of the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation, Raquel says her Native heritage has always been a huge part of her life — and now, she channels that heritage into her content as well.
But Raquel didn’t always want to create content in the context of being a Native woman. In fact, when she first began making videos, that was the last thing she wanted to do.
“At the time, I was really struggling with my identity. … It felt like I was being the ‘Native show pony,'” she told In The Know. “I felt pressure to ‘look Native’ and ‘talk Native,’ and make sure every piece of content I created was ‘Native content.’ After a while, it became exhausting to try and keep up with these expectations.”
But after finally accepting herself as she was, no matter how she looked or sounded, Raquel embraced that being Native was in her blood — a fact that no one could take away from her.
“I started creating content that was authentic to me. I may not be as traditional as other Native women [or] moms, I may not bead or dance in powwows or sing round dance songs. I represent the in-betweens. The Native women who are still figuring themselves out. Figuring out parts of their culture, their language. Finding out where they stand. I represent those Native girls.”
As Raquel’s content became more and more authentic to who she was, she started gaining more followers — and more confidence.
“My channel started to grow when I took the pressure off of myself. I created videos that I thoroughly enjoyed creating. I think when people see you love what you do, they can’t help but watch and want to be a part of it.”
But Raquel’s life — and content — took a turn in October 2021, when she gave birth to her little girl, Nova.
Growing up, Raquel spent a lot of time with grandmothers, aunts, older adults and mentors — and she hopes to pass down those same family bonds to her baby girl.
“I plan to raise Nova similarly to how I was raised. To keep her around her elders and mentors so she can learn the importance of our Native ways,” Raquel told In The Know.
“Although I do not practice our traditional Native ways, I plan to always be open to my people. Nova has already been to a few powwows and I plan on continuing that as she gets older, and then eventually making an outfit for her so she can dance.”
Growing right along with little Nova are Raquel’s followers, with over 14,000 subscribers across her various platforms.
“It has definitely given me a new perspective. I didn’t realize there was such a desire for knowledge about Native Americans,” she told In The Know.
“I think it’s really cool that I can give people a look into Native life, that Native Americans aren’t ‘ancient’ or ‘historic.’ We live regular lives just like everybody else.”
But there is one Native attribute that Raquel is determined to spread to the world: humor.
“My ultimate goal for my content is to always make people laugh,” Raquel explained. “I’ve always viewed the world in a positive light, although many bad things have happened to me. The way I cope, and the way many Natives cope, is through humor.”
And it’s that sense of humor and positive outlook that Raquel hopes to spread with her content.
“No matter what, I want to show everyone that no matter what they are going through, there is always something positive to look forward to, there is always something to laugh at. I want to be there for my people in that sense. If they need someone to cheer them up and pick them up, I can be there for them.”
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