MediaIndigena is a content aggregate blog (or, an “interactive media magazine”) that I have found useful throughout the past 13 weeks for keeping an ear to the ground on the myriad of topics that have been brought up through our discussions and readings. The site is authored by ten individuals with very different backgrounds and professions (of which you can read about by clicking their names), sort of like the ETEC521 research blog but hopefully not about to culminate it’s posting cycle! If you’re interested in keeping up with MediaIndigena, they’re also available via twitter and facebook, and, following those links you’re sure to snowball to other such blogs, websites, and organizations.
Native America Calling (NAC) is a radio talk-show connecting traditional and internet radio stations and listeners in dialogue about Indigenous issues. Boasting an audience of approximately half a million listeners throughout Canada and the United States, each episode features experts and guests with callers with a stated goal of improving the lived reality of Native Americans.
The one-hour program airs live, five days a week, from 10-11 a.m. PST (or, 1-2 pm EST). You can listen to the program streaming online, or you can tune-in on your radio if you are in range. If you want to call in, the number is 1-800-99-NATIV. New topics are posted at the beginning of each week and you can also sign up to their mailing list to have topics delivered to you. You can also listen to the archive of past topics, ranging back over a decade, although the program hasn’t always been 5 days per week. The program is produced in Anchorage, Alaska, by the native owned/operated Koahnic Broadcast Corporation.
invert media is an Aboriginal internet and video production company that focuses on archiving and communicating traditional Aboriginal teachings in an Indigeneous framework. The company attempts to collaborate in ways that respect cultural and community sources. Like many other production companies, invert media tries to work closely with First Nations communities to respect the cultural protocols that exist in each community.
“We believe indigenous knowledge is essential in addressing urgent matters in the world today” – this is the mission statement posted as an introduction on the company website. In their work, the company’s two principal directors, Jennifer Wemigwans and Doug Anderson, claim that they respectfully to translate and apply indigenous knowledge frameworks, without compromising them.
Of interest, is the company’s intent to research thoughtfully and remain authentic to traditional Indigenous teachings.
The company’s two major projects are:
The Full Circle Project: a cultural learning Framework for Toronto Aboriginal Youth
Intro: “Aboriginal languages and cultures are threatened everywhere, especially in the city. The rapid pace of cultural loss is not being addressed fast enough to ensure survival of indigenous knowledge among urban aboriginal youth.”
Four Directions.com is a narrated series of animations that passes on some of the teachings and philosophy of five First Nations groups in Canada: Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, Mi ‘kqmak
Each series of teachings is delivered by an Elder and provides a fairly rich multi-media introduction to each culture. I am not expert on any of the tribes that were researched as part of Four Directions Teachings.com, but I think that this project may be bogged down by its ambitious scope. In reviewing the teachings, it’s evident that the lessons being discussed by the Elders are simply an introduction to each culture. There is no significant depth to the discussions and some sensitive subjects are deliberately not addressed in the online teachings. For Wemigwans and Anderson to have carefully researched each culture (as they claim to have) would have take extensive resources which appear not to have been available to this private production crew. In this light, while the media productions on the five tribes are interesting and somewhat useful, they certainly have limitations.
It is not uncommon for high school students to be unsure about their options after graduation. For Aboriginal students, who may not have seen traditional ways of knowing or learning reflected in their school experience (As per Dr. Marker’s Four Winding Paths up the Mountain), post-secondary options can seem even more murky and the benefits and outcomes of higher education might not be immediately apparent. For students who successfully achieve their high-school education (or to inspire students who may be faltering in the later high school years) there are various opportunities to inspire and connect youth to college experiences as well as showcase Aboriginal role models in higher education settings and the workplace. In British Columbia, the provincial government connects Aboriginal youth to internship opportunities through their Aboriginal Youth Internship Program. College Horizons is an independent program in the United Stats that supports both undergraduate and graduate students to help navigate the “jungle” of admissions process and related requirements of college. Jared Whitney provides an article reflecting Indigenous perspectives on College admissions (via College Horizons). There are many other examples, many individual provinces and states have programs along with national-level opportunities.
The Public Ethics Radio site has hosted a few different talks on Indigenous rights. Among other issues, it discusses Indigenous intellectual property rights and how mainstream capitalism has monopolized on indigenous knowledge! In Episode 13 Sarah Holcombe asks some very pertinent questions in this regard! “Western pharmaceutical and agricultural businesses have long recognized that there is money to be made from the traditional knowledge of local, indigenous communities. Sociologists and anthropologists also seek to gain—intellectually and academically—from conducting research on and with these communities. What rules should govern the interaction with so-called traditional knowledge? How can intellectual property rights be designed so as to minimize harm to indigenous peoples and maximize the goods of research, and share it equitably?”
This site also reminded me of a couple other sites I came across: The Aboriginal Media Lab one from the Canadian Parliament and one from the Australian Parliament specifically on Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights. Comparing the Canadian and Australian sites was very interesting in terms of the differences they consider!
I really like the way the Canadian site differentiates between Western Science & Traditional Knowledge! The chart describes how Indigenous Traditional Knowledge differs from Western Science.
Excellent information for sure in all these sites! I will definitely add them to my resources list so I have them to refer to when I start my final paper on Elders and Technology!
Defenders of the Land is a network of Indigenous communities and activists that stretches across Canada. It includes Elders and youth, women and men, was founded in Winnipeg in 2008.
- Free of government or corporate funding
- Dedicated to building a fundamental movement for Indigenous rights.
On May 1, 2011, Osama Bin Laden was tracked down and killed by U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan. In confirming their kill, the Seals sent a short, coded message to President Barack Obama which read:
“Geronimo-E K.I.A.” [Killed in Action]
To many Indigenous people around the world, the use of the legendary warrior’s name as a stand-in for the notorious Bin Laden was an insult. For Dallas Goldtooth and Ryan Red Cord of the sketch troupe ‘the 1491’s’ that code inspired more than outrage — it led to a performance poem entitled ‘Geronimo-E K.I.A.’ that has become popular on YouTube. (the 1491’s hail from Oklahoma and Minnesota).
Click here to play a recent radio interview given by Dallas Goldtooth to Rick Harp, host of Urban Nation Live on Winnipeg’s Streetz FM.
In the interview Dallas describes Geronimo as a powerful symbol of RESISTANCE to American imperialism and development. Geronimo represents the fight against destructive forces in Aboriginal communities.
Naturally, Geronimo is revered by some, but not all. Some First Nations dread the man because of his violent ways, specifically towards opposing tribes. To Goldtooth and Red Corn, the persona and icon of Geronimo represents much more.
Goldtooth explains: there is anger and frustration to what was communicated to the President and the poem is a response to that, but it also conveys the idea that Indian people have not been defeated. In the present, many Aboriginals do significant work towards change, and in doing so they prove that Geronimo was not killed in Pakistan.
Central to the poem is the belief that Indigenous people around the world are part of the resistance that was once displayed by Geronimo. The video concludes with the following poignant message:
“We chase his legacy, not his truth. Neither will be caught, but one of them can be made up.”
Why the U.S. military would use Geronimo as a code name for Bin Laden is mind-boggling. Aboriginals have struggled mightily and this incident is symptomatic of the struggle by mainstream America to marginalize First Nations cultures. The creative use of YouTube to respond to the hurt caused by the insensitivity of the U.S. military makes this endeavor worth studying if researchers are interested in the evolving relationship between Aboriginals and the media.
RedWAY BC News is a free monthly on-line magazine. It has been published since 2003 by Spiritlink Communications.
According to the founder of RedWAY, Kristen Kozuback the mission of the publication is to build relationships based on respect and recognition and to celebrate the diversity of cultures, talents and strengths of Aboriginal people..
Many of the recent efforts by RedWAY focus on ways youth can build media technology skills and develop the experience necessary to start careers or businesses as writers, editors, videographers, and photographers. RedWAY‘s YouTube channel and video productions (made by youth) can be found here.
Here are some of the regular sections from the magazine:
- JPEN – Job Postings & Employment News
- From the Streets and RHR: readers helping readers
- Smoke Signals: a community announcements page
- International Indigenous News: often self-governance items
Readership Demographics: most of the readers and contributors are Aboriginal youths who reside in British Columbia – 85% self-identify as Aboriginal; 80% live currently in BC; over 45% are under age 30; 70% have their own social networking site.
Teaching Tip: In coordination with Spiritlink, RedWAY, and the First Nations School Net Program, 7 youths attended the 2008 Gathering our Voices Conference held in Victoria, May 17-20, 2008. These youths were provided with hardware (laptops, cameras) + software + brainware (training) + spiritware (encouragement and empowerment) and the result was a significant ‘earning and learning’ experience.
Adele Alexander commented on her reflection the conference in a holistic way. Her posts describe the influence the conference had on her:
I found this to be a very interesting way of having students look back at an experience. It transcends the mere ‘lessons learned’ and gets into a more authentic reflection of any experience. Researchers looking into innovative, grassroots efforts to empower Aboriginal youth through media should definitely take a look at RedWAY.
Many others have referenced this webpage and I debated not writing about it, but was so impressed with the concise commentary provided that I decided to draw more attention to it. The site is an introduction to media portrayals of Aboriginals in Canada and the U.S..
One of the most thought-provoking lines on the page comes from Ward Churchill: “Dehumanization, obliteration or appropriation of identity, political subordination and material colonization are all elements of a common process of imperialism,” he says. “The meaning of Hollywood’s stereotyping of [American] Indians can be truly comprehended only against this backdrop.”
The Media Awareness Network is well-regarded for its critical examination of media stereotypes. I have used their materials on Internet Privacy previously and found them suitable for school-aged teens. This page grabs student attention by noting that in the early days of film, Italian and Spanish actors often played Indian roles because they had the appropriate ‘skin tone.’ The fact that they aren’t actually Aboriginal was secondary. The page outlines in very clear language some of the misconceptions that media have either intentionally or unknowingly created:
- the Indian Princess – there is no structure of loyalty within tribes
- the Native Warrior – ‘savagery’ stereotypes drive need for colonization
- the Noble Savage – special spiritual powers not accorded to anyone else
- Dress, practices, spirituality of Aboriginal actors fuels stereotypes
Stereotyping by Omission
- for example, Chicago has a significant Aboriginal population, but not a single Aboriginal patient has ever been treated on the television show ER
- Aboriginals given few lines and are relegated to minor roles. In Dances with Wolves, the only voice of significance in the film is an US Army captain – why?
Interestingly, there is some discussion of the role that stereotypes have played in inflaming imperialism. Wendy Rose’s article from the New Yorker is referenced. She writes: “there’s a whole school of thought that believes that the stereotypes of Native people and the Wild West must still be maintained in today’s society.”
To suggest that Aboriginals are not still being subjugated by Hollywood and any number of television production studios ignores the glaring realities that this website raises. On a separate page, the authors raise some excellent questions to trigger student inquiry into relationship between Aboriginals and the media:
- Who selected or created these images and stories? Why does it matter who made these selections?
- Whose voices are being heard? And whose voices are absent? Why?
- Why are certain stories selected for the news and others not?
- Are Aboriginal people shown as real human beings in films and TV programs or do they seem wooden and two-dimensional?
- Do depictions in movies and TV shows respect tribal, cultural and regional differences?
The greater questions of authentic voice, authorship, intellectual property, decolonization are not really examined on this site. The pages are useful in getting students started on the path to understanding, but students will need to push well beyond this website if they wish to engage in critical study.
Urban Rez Productions is an independent digital media production company that features documentaries on indigenous communities. Most are Canadian but some are based in New Zealand.
One of their main productions has been “Storytellers in Motion” which profiles indigenous filmmakers, television producers and media creators, all proudly using 21st century technology to tell their stories, which are either embedded in community life or in terms of their own individual experience. Not surprisingly, many of the featured media producers discuss their own struggles with confronting stereotypes.
The name of the site suggests a focus on urban issues, but it also includes traditional non-urban settings as well.