Impact of Technology on Indigenous Cultures

1. Global Voices:  blog post written by Aparna Ray

Impact of ICT on Indigenous Cultures: Rejuvenation or Colonization?

The first link I found fit very well into our week two discussion about whether or not technology is culturally neutral. There are links to case studies from other Indigenous communities such as Malaysia (link is under construction), Western Australia and Taiwan.

Impact of ICT on Indigenous Cultures

2. Virtual Library on Indigenous Cultures

From this site you can access many different websites and organizations world-wide. For example, I followed the link for North America and visited the Assembly of First Nations website.

3. TED talk. Wade Davis discusses Endangered Cultures

Wade Davis works with National Geographic and he discusses his travels and Indigenous knowledge and argues that it isn’t technology that is the biggest threat to the Indigenous culture- it is power. This is quite honestly one of the best TED talks I’ve watched. He shares fascinating stories and beautiful pictures with a very powerful message.

4. Transcript of a Lecture by Dr Erica-Irene A. Daes given to the Honorable ATSIC Commissioner, Honorable Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australia Human Rights Council

The Impact of Globalization on Indigenous Intellectual Property and Cultures

I’m including this because it is a powerful speech that illustrates the effects that technology is having on Indigenous people around the world. While many are using technology to their advantage, Dr. Daes points out that there is a risk that the practices seen in globalization threaten to commodify and manipulate the cultural heritage and intellectual property of Indigenous people.  She asserts that we need to focus on “strengthening the trans-boundary jurisdiction of national courts to enforce private international law; and second international respect for the customary intellectual property laws of Indigenous peoples, as a matter of choice-of-laws.” (2004)

 5. UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education – ICTs and Indigenous People

I hit the motherlode! There is so much in this document that I feel a bit overwhelmed at trying to describe what is in it. The document begins with the Article 15 of the WSIS Declaration of The World Summit on the Information Society which states that, “In the evolution of the Information Society, particular attention must be given to the special situation of indigenous peoples, as well as to the preservation of their heritage and their cultural legacy.” It goes on to discuss the unique challenges that Indigenous cultures face when it comes to technology. I won’t list them here, but they are listed in the document and include such things as dominance of English and other non-Indigenous languages on the Internet and lack of infrastructure such as electricity.

The document goes on to acknowledge the importance of Indigenous cultures and criticizes policies that lead to assimilation and erosion of culture. It also acknowledges that ICT can be used for continuing erosion of culture, but suggests that Indigenous cultures need to participate in ICT on their own terms. Examples of this are given from the US, Sub-Saharan Africa, Bolivia, Thailand and India. It concludes with policy recommendations and summaries. I found this a very valuable document.

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