Troy man educates Indigenous history through TikTok


By Eamon Baird

[email protected]

TROY — When Zane Switzer, 22, took a DNA test in 2020, he discovered he was half Native American. Three years later, Switzer uses TikTok, a popular social media platform, to educate others about indigenous culture.

Following the test, Switzer discovered he was a descendant of the Nahua and Otomi tribes.

“It was a big surprise for me,” Switzer said. “My whole life, I just thought I was European.”

As a part of Switzer’s journey of self-discovery about his heritage, he took an interest in learning more about Native American history in his free time.

After graduating high school, Switzer decided to use the popular social media platform TikTok with the goal of educating others on Native American history. Since joining Switzer’s TikTok, @indigenouszane has received over 167,000 followers and 4.6 million likes.

“I wanted to learn more about my culture and other cultures throughout the Americas of indigenous people,” Switzer said.

This is a passion project for Switzer, who feels like he didn’t get adequate education on Native American people while attending school.

“We never learned about the indigenous people of Ohio; we never learned about the indigenous culture of Ohio,” Switzer said.

Switzer’s videos show the different tribes, languages, and word origins of Native American people in Ohio and around the United States. He pointed out that the word Ohio comes from the Iroquois word ohi-yo, meaning “beautiful river.”

Switzer said producing a TikTok usually takes about two or three hours, and he makes two or three every week.

What Switzer appreciates the most since starting his TikTok is the reactions from followers learning more about indigenous culture on his channel.

“Just reading the comments of people saying they have never heard of this before, they didn’t know, they weren’t educated, and they thank me, that’s the most rewarding part,” Switzer said.

Despite making videos celebrating indigenous culture, Switzer feels isolated.

“I think I’m the only person with Native American heritage in Troy,” Switzer said.

According to the U.S. Census, an American Indian or Alaska Native originates in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment. This accounts for roughly 2% of the American population.

In addition to his TikTok, Switzer is working on a history book about indigenous culture that he hopes to finish in the next couple of years. He hopes to eventually work with others in Native American culture to spread his message.

“That is my goal to work with other content creators,” Switzer said.

In the future, Switzer hopes to connect with groups such as the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio (NAICCO) in Columbus, to help spread knowledge about indigenous people.

No posts to display