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NEW YORK — During news coverage on Native American Heritage Month, ABC reporter Kyra Phillips misspoke and referred to Indigenous people as “Indigenous creatures” on ABC News’ streaming channel on Thursday morning.

“Celebrating Native American Heritage Month, when we come back we’ll take a look at Indigenous creatures taking Hollywood and pop-culture by storm,” Phillips mistakenly said on Thursday's broadcast.

The mistake has been corrected, and the news company hasn’t issued an explanation to the error, which was captured and published on TikTok by user @indigenousdronepilot.

“I was taken back when I first seen it, but not surprised,” Brooke Waukau (Johnson), whose TikTok handle is @indigenousdronepilot, told Native News Online. “For outsiders looking in, that misuse of words could look like a harmless mistake, but for Indigenous people it is a reminder of the mistrust and broken relationship we have with the media.”

As of press time, the video has had more than 730,000 views, thousands of shares, and social media is abuzz with memes, comments, and posts.

Popular social media handle Injun Comedy said in a post on Facebook, “We’re not ‘something else’ any more, we’re ‘Indigenous creatures’ now.” The popular social media group has more than 225,000 followers and has already posted links to merchandise that have the text “Indigenous creatures.”

Native Hoop Magazine posted on its social media today, defending the ABC News story about Native American Heritage Month. “That clip of ABC News calling us indigenous creatures is taken way out of context,” Native Hoop Magazine wrote on its Facebook on Friday. It shared a link to the network’s publication of the story and its title includes “Native American creators.”

The ABC story was about Native American people involved in the creation of several hit shows such as Reservation Dogs and the movie Prey.

“We don’t want them to honor us once a year for Native American Heritage Month,” said Waukau, who’s also a MMIW Task Force Coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Justice. “We want them to do their job all year round and run stories on our missing men, women, and children.” 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article erroneously named 20/20 anchor Amy Robach as the anchor who referred to Native Americans as "Indigenous creatures." The ABC reporter who made the reference is Kyra Phillips.

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About The Author
Author: Darren ThompsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a staff reporter for Native News Online who is based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.