This TikTok User and Her Mom Make Throat-Singing Videos to Celebrate Their Indigenous Culture
For Shina Nova and her mom, Caroline Novalinga, singing together isn't just a hobby; it's an important part of their Indigenous culture. Since April, Shina, who is Inuk, has used her platform on TikTok — where she has 970,000 followers — to share a glimpse at her Inuit culture. The Inuit people are indigenous to the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. In Inuit culture, throat singing is a communal form of singing that uses a vocal technique that involves "short, sharp, rhythmic inhalations and exhalations of breath."
"I was about seven years old when I started to learn how to throat sing through my mother," Shina told POPSUGAR via email. "Throat singing is important to me because it helps me connect with my roots and my ancestors. Throat singing had also helped me build a stronger connection with my mom. We had almost lost that part of our culture and it's a way for me to revive this tradition."
"I want people to understand that our differences are beautiful and that we should be more open-minded when it comes to culture."
The singing style, which is practiced almost exclusively by women in groups of two or more, was traditionally used to sing babies to sleep, but it can also be performed as a game with two Inuit women standing face to face to see who can outlast the other. The songs themselves often focus on themes of nature, animals, and love, making them a meaningful and heartfelt representation of the Inuit culture. "My favorite throat singing song to sing is called 'The Wind.' We imitate the sound of the wind," Shina said.
In 2017, Shina began taking throat-singing more seriously, sharing videos online to educate her viewers about this important part of her culture. "My culture is part of my identity," she said. "It is a way for me to spread awareness about my Inuit culture and and about throat singing . . . I want people to understand that our way of life is still very much alive and that we still practice it in Northern Québec. I want people to understand that our differences are beautiful and that we should be more open-minded when it comes to culture." Watch Shina and her mother's traditional throat-singing videos here.