BUTTE, MT - Where do you go to get your social media fix? Older generations have proven to use Facebook for their content digestion. Younger generations have historically gravitated towards Instagram and Youtube for their digital doses of dopamine. However, there is one social media network that has been integrated into the minds and devices of nearly every generation, young or old and in between: TikTok.

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Some people have never downloaded it, some people are on it religiously, and some post content on the app daily—all of which are enjoying everything the controversial app has to offer. I personally have direct experience with the app, ever since a friend showed me the "better than Vine" app on their phone in 2020, right before the pandemic. Once COVID hit, TikTok hit the pop culture stratosphere, becoming the most-used website of 2021—surpassing conglomerate Google.

Since then, TikTok has been something of a hot topic, and I don't mean the indoor mall classic, Green Day t-shirt retailer. TikTok, since its unfathomably high rise to fame since 2020 here in the U.S., has been questioned as a data collection tool and propaganda peddler for the Chinese government. Whether true or not, in 2022, the U.S. federal government banned its employees from downloading the app and having it on their devices under the guise of internal security and protection. Makes sense, right?

Well, since President Trump attempted to bar the Chinese company back during his presidency, TikTok has seemingly been getting closer and closer to a wide-scale, societal ban here in the U.S. In recent weeks, legislation known as the RESTRICT Act aimed at giving the government a boost in power to "regulate" (i.e. ban) foreign apps like TikTok, though it has faced strong opposition. In response, the U.S. administration is supporting an alternative bill, the Guard Act, which seeks to provide the Department of Commerce with broader authority to take action against TikTok without infringing upon the freedom of speech decrees of the First Amendment.

Where does that leave us, the people here in Montana? Why is it more controversial for Montanans in general if TikTok is banned or not? Well, there's a large, historically underrepresented group of people that reside here that the TikTok ban may affect the most: the Montana tribal reservations.

Obama Hosts White House Tribal Nations Conference In Washington
Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

As there are 12 Montana Indian Tribes across 7 Montana reservations, so it is definitely something to consider. However seemingly unlikely, here are the reasons why a TikTok ban is a lot more controversial in Montana than most other states.

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Cultural Expression and Preservation

For many Indigenous tribal communities, social media platforms like TikTok have become vital tools for cultural expression and preservation. It has been reported that the app offers an accessible and dynamic way to share traditional dances, stories, languages, and customs—not just within the community, but with a global audience. This digital output assists these communities in keeping their traditions alive, especially among younger generations who are more connected to the digital world.

With a ban of TikTok comes a ban of methodology for Indigenous tribal communities here in Montana to utilize in spreading their heritage, values, and culture to the surrounding—and oftentimes isolated—world around them.

Economic Implications

TikTok has emerged as a surprisingly significant economic platform for creators in Indigenous tribal communities, allowing artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs to reach wider audiences and monetize their content. You may be thinking, "So what? Wouldn't that affect everyone, not just these communities?" That may be true, but for communities that often face economic disadvantages, these digital opportunities have proven to be invaluable. The ban could, therefore, have disproportionate economic impacts on Indigenous content creators, potentially stifling emerging digital economies on their respective reservations.

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Are Indigenous Communities Even Included?

One big question still looms over the culture of every Indigenous tribal community: how much, really, is their land, their land? In other words, when are these communities included in federal legislation, and why? Depends on who you ask, but looking at legislation over the past few decades, the answers are best summed up as, "Whenever the government feels like it." What does this have to do with TikTok? Well, it still remains unclear if the TikTok ban would even affect Indigenous tribal communities due to their placement on reservations. Since, officially (outside of practice), these reservations are Indigenous land, could they keep TikTok on their devices if they choose to? Would the U.S. federal government force them to ban it as well in the face of a national ban? This point leads to a whole new level of controversy, including:

Free Speech and Sovereignty Concerns

One of the biggest measures of the opposition against banning TikTok is free speech, a notoriously controversial and undefinable point of pride for Americans. However, the imposition of a state-wide ban on TikTok raises critical questions about free speech and the sovereignty of Indigenous reservations. Indigenous tribal communities hold unique legal statuses, and a national ban could be seen as an infringement on their rights to self-governance and to make independent decisions about technology use within their territories.

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Rep. Garcia Holds Capitol Hill Press Conference With TikTok Creators
Credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

It's an extremely difficult subject for some to ponder and approach. But it's here, it's now, and it isn't going anywhere, especially if you live here in Montana. What do you think? Are you American, Indigenous, somewhere in between? Or someone who just wants to share their opinion? Let's hear it!

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Gallery Credit: Credit: Mateo, 103.5 KISS FM

Latest Viral TikTok Trend Takes Funny Look at Life in the Adirondacks

We recently came across a viral video that took a lighthearted and fun approach to "Life in the ADKS." It's been circulating for weeks and we think it's worth sharing!

Is life in the Adirondacks all that different from life in say, Albany, Schenectady, or Saratoga Springs? We say, "Yes!"

Even though most cities in the Capital Region are less than an hour away, anyone who's spent a decent amount of time in the North Country knows that certain conveniences that many might take for granted, don't exist throughout the 5,000 square miles of dense forest and high peaks that comprise the mighty ADKS.

So whether you're from Halfmoon or Hague; from Troy or Ticonderoga, you should be able to relate to a viral video that takes a humorous and poignant approach to "Life in the Adirondacks."

Here are a few of our favorites - and you can check out the full video below.

Gallery Credit: Brian Cody TSM Albany

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