The Urban Aboriginal Primitive Technology Studies & Practice page is a site targeting urban indigenous people that provides information on how to make things like dreamcatchers, crossbows, cattail visors, shelters and pretty much everything other traditional aboriginal practice you could think of.
Although there is no vision statement included, it appears that the goal of the website is to support the development of traditional skills by offering resources and instructional materials (often in video format) among people who do not have opportunities to learn these practices through elders or community members.
The site demonstrates a practical approach to technology and how it can be used to support cultural transmission. It fits in well (I think) with the focus of Module 4.
Here is an interesting article that has quantified and verified that Traditional Ecological Knowledge is being lost in First Nations communities. The researcher tested Elders on their knowledge about an indigenous bird, and then tested young adults on their knowledge of the same bird. Elders far outscored young adults with respect to knowledge that should be common to this cultural group.
These results spurred the Elders, with the help of the researcher, to create a Cree curriculum for the TEK that should be passed down to future generations.
This is one of the better articles about TEK that I have read for a few reasons. It acts on results with the formation of a curriculum that is driven by the Elders, it links TEK with culture, it considers the historical events that have contributed to the degredation of TEK, and it points out the global significance to people beyond the culture that hold the TEK.
There is a plethora of research, articles and websites touting the way Traditional Ecological Knowledge can be used as scientific evidence of the climate change that is happening in extreme envirionments (such as the Arctic and Sahara), and lands that are relied upon for sustinance by indigenous people (such as Samoa and Tasmania).
What is lacking in the research, is evidence as to how TEK can reverse or slow the process of climate change and how the particular ecosystems should be managed and maintained. This website, Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network, briefly outlines how altered practices from Western to Indigenous, has slowed, stopped or reversed the negative changes associated with climate change.
I think sites like this one could prove to be more valuable than ones pointing out the doom and gloom of the climate change situation. People know that the climate is changing in a detrimental way, but they don’t know what they can do about it. This provides valuable information and hope to people that hopefully can be acted upon.
TEK and Science
This video is made by a caucasian biology teacher in Alaska who writes curriculum that integrates TEK and science. He is a bit of a rambler, but near the end he links supposedly superstitious behavious and myths with scientific evidence. The two examples he uses is that every 25/30 years, the Inuit Shaman would tell the village to burn all of their fishing gear at the end of a fishing season. Given the scarcity of resources to make this gear, this would seem preposterous. However, they would make new fishing gear, and not to catch the same fish. They would alternate between crustaceans and vertebrates every 20-30 years as their main sustenance. Modern science now shows that the Arctic ocean goes through 20/30 year temperature cycles that influence whether crustaceans or vertebrates flourish. The Inuit would fish for whatever fish was plentiful. This explains how the crab fishery is in ruins today–the Western market demanded it when the natural stocks were low. Now they have been fished to the point where they may not recover.
While I love the beauty of tradition and science corroborating each other, his description lacks insight into the spiritual nature of the myths and behaviours. Many of the comments about the video are positive, but question the “superstitions” of the Inuit. Being that he is caucasian, he likely isn’t versed on the spiritual nature of the myths and behaviours, but this is such an important concept for the Inuit, and given that it is brought up by viewers, it does need to be addressed properly so that the behaviours/myths aren’t “explained away” or commodified and dismissed as superstitions.