Spotlighting Indigenous Creators: Hiosik Brings Culture to Life via Cosplay

We’re keeping the Funimation Space For Everyone initiative alive with a three-part series spotlight on Indigenous cosplayers and innovators, creating a space for “Indiginerds” to talk about their unabashed love for all things geek.

We’re not holding space for sensationalized portrayals of Indigenous Americans steeped in stereotypes, but instead amplifying the beautifully human voices of Indigenous people in the realm of nerd culture.

Meet Hiosik: anime nerd, Twitch streamer and The Beatles fan.

What is your tribal affiliation? 

I am Onk-Akimel O’odham from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community

Tell me about yourself.

I am an award-winning journalist currently working with IGN as a freelance guides video content creator. I am a Twitch Affiliate streamer who loves representing people of color and women in the Fighting Game Community.

I travel a lot especially to Japan. I watch a lot of anime and am a sneakerhead. I’m an Arizona State University Sun Devil, finishing up my last year at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Digital Audiences. 

What is your cosplay origin story? 

During my Tumblr days, I always loved seeing cosplays on my feed. I started out small using already-made clothing like shirts or pants. I would alter the material until I got it as close to the character’s outfit as I could.

I would follow cosplayers like Vampybitme and Misshabit to learn from them. I loved seeing their progress pictures. I eventually got to meet them later at conventions, and we would talk about our cosplays and materials that worked best for us. They always gave me tips and tricks.

My first big convention was San Diego Comic Con, with two of my best friends. They wanted us to dress up as a punk rock Sailor Moon group; I was Sailor Venus. Attending SDCC was a gamechanger that turned me into a regular con-goer. When I was attending Scottsdale Community College, I enrolled in the first-ever cosplay class provided by the Theatre Program.

The goal for the class was to pick a group cosplay we could build by the end of the semester to showcase at our panel at Phoenix Comic Con. We eventually landed on group cosplaying Overwatch, since the game was big at the time. Every day we would come in and build our costumes, while at the same time, given exercises to better understand our cosplay character.

We had to learn everything about our origin stories. How do we interact with, let’s say, a Spider-Man cosplayer, without breaking character. What would our favorite food be or favorite music? This is how I learned to embody a character while I cosplay.

How many years have you been cosplaying?

Seven years.

Are your cosplays homemade or do you buy/commission them? 

I say 90% of my cosplays are homemade, with the other 10% being a mask or shoes. I like to make sure I give myself time to resource materials.

I do my best to go through trial and error early, before the cosplay due date. See what works and what doesn’t, so I can switch gears if needed. 

Of the many cosplays you have done, which one is most meaningful to you and why? 

My Voyager Moana cosplay has the best memories. In my tribal community, we have a Halloween carnival every year called the Fall Festival, with goodie booths, game booths and contests.

I was a judge for the costume contest that night, so I came dressed up as Moana. I had so many little girls yelling “Moana!,” stopping me to take pictures and talk with me. I loved seeing their faces light up. My two favorites were when a little girl said, “Moana, I saw you on the TV last night.”

The other was a girl dressed as Lilo. After her mom snapped the picture, in a heartbeat, she turned and pulled me in for a big hug; she didn’t want to let go. It was super cute! I also got asked if I do birthday parties for little girls. 

Has your Indigenous background ever inspired your cosplay? If so, how do you incorporate your identity with that of the characters you cosplay? 

Yes, it’s been a goal of mine to do a Star Wars crossover with a traditional take on it. The outfits will be Star Wars with O’odham designs incorporated on the material. I wanted to push it further than just cosplay though, and for it to be recorded into a short action film with stunts and O’odham niok [language].

I have a small team I’ve been working with, and we’ve been training with a stunt coach. As soon as we have our training complete, we can begin filming. 

How can the cosplay community improve in regard to Indigenous cosplayers and makers? 

Give them a follow; feature them and their work. Some like to do a twist of adding Indigenous regalia to a cosplay, and some like to cosplay just to cosplay. Both are great!

There’s a convention for “Indiginerds” called Indigenous Comic-Con. It’s a convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that showcases Indigenous pop culture through art, comics, storytelling and much more. They welcome everyone to attend.

A lot of Indigenous people are big fans of pop culture. We love superheroes, anime and video games. A lot of us can’t wait to see our stories shared and for us to see the first-ever Indigenous Marvel superhero. 

What would you like to see in terms of Indigenous representation in anime? 

Not only to see more Indigenous characters with unique stories and backgrounds, but to bring on board Indigenous actors as well to voice them. 

What are your cosplans? Do you have any special projects coming up? 

For cosplays, I’m working on Ba Sing Se Katara and a Kyoshi Warrior from Avatar: The Last Airbender, and those will be for TikTok content. I want to use this time to keep checking costume builds off my list, so when con season comes, I’ll be ready. 

If you were stranded on a deserted island, which anime character would you invite to keep you company?

Soma Yukihira from Food Wars!, for obvious reasons. That boy can cook anything. He would easily source ingredients on the island for us to survive.

Where can we find you?