As a public school educator I was very interested when I saw the ads and recommendations for Medicine Wheel Education on Facebook. In general Medicine Wheel Education looks engaging and interesting for their target audience of elementary school children. After careful inspection I have a few concerns….
Advertised as “Culturally Appropriate First Nation’s Resources for Everyone!” – Is it not a concern that there are many distinct First Nation Cultures in BC, each with its own stories and traditions. Should we as educators seek out resources more specific to the land on which we live?
The authors and designers are not Indigenous themselves – does this matter? The biography notes that the creator of Medicine Wheel Resources was given permission to tell the stories he has learned from Elders who taught him.
When is something appropriation vs sharing of knowledge?
The MMIWG Inquiry is having difficulty getting organized, communicating and meeting the needs of the families involved. Critiques like Mi’kmaq lawyer, professor, activist and politician Pam Palmater are speaking out how the MMIWG is not doing justice to the inquiry process.
Music shared through technology is aiding in the resurgence of Indigenous Cultural Awareness.
Indigenous Culture is being celebrated and shared through music. In the past First Nation artisits like Buffy Sainte Marie and Susan Aglukark were considered an exception. Presently we are seeing more Indigenous artists being celebrated in mainstream entertainment not just for their musical talent, but also for their contribution to Aboriginal Culture. Many of the songs written and performed by these artists share language, traditional song, drumming and dance as well as messages about traditions, the impact of colonization and histories of Indigenous Peoples.
In a CBC interview singer and songwriter Art Napoleon said he choose to produce his album “Creeland Covers” entirely in Cree in order to share a little of the language with others. While groups like A Tribe Called Red are using their popularity to increase awareness about the hardships Indigenous Peoples face worldwide.
Catalina Johnson writes in a bandcamp daily article “The Anti-Colonial Beats of Indigenous Hip-Hop” that music, especially Hip-Hop, which is really a form of oral storytelling allows artists to take back the narratives of their people. Indeed one Hi-Hop musician, JB the First Lady, notes Hip-Hop did not only allow her to learn her language, but also connected her with traditional songs, dancdes and ceremonies. “Our songs, our dances, our ceremonies, and our language comes from the land,” she explains. “That’s why land is very important to people here in Turtle Island. It’s a direct link to our ancestors and to Creator.”
The contribution of the Indigenous Peoples to the survival of the early European Settlers is often glanced over, or not touched upon at all in our classrooms.
It is important to remember that without the help of Indigenous Peoples settlers would not have survived, contents would not have been so easily explored, skills would not have been learned. Unfortunately these early teachings were lost in the idea that one culture was better then another, and that there was no “science” behind Indigenous Medicines.
The website RealFramacy.com lists 31 of the well Native American medicines. Unfortunately there are many more that have been lost because of the refusal of the dominant culture to understand, and learn from other cultures. The 1992 Drama “Medicine Man” touches on the idea that many traditional medicines have been lost to the world because of colonization and in turn – industrialization, and globalization.
Perhaps technology can document traditional medicinal knowledge before, like many languages, it is lost to the world. Perhaps the sharing of traditional medicinal knowledge online will allow the sharing of history and create a culture of respect for Indigenous cultures.
McTiernan, John, director. Medicine Man. Medicine Man, Hollywood Pictures Cinergi Pictures, 7 Feb. 1992.
University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student Qaġġun Zibell (Chelsey), developed a website that will help introduce the Inupiaq language. In an interview Zibell recognizes that the website cannot fully teach the language, but can be uses as a more modern resource for connected learners. The site features games, videos and interactive activities.
Indigenous communities are working to insure that their oral histories are not lost for ever as elders pass away. They are documenting language, stories, knowledge much of it online or in electronic form. Business Insider Australia posted an article noting how an archeological find on Triquet Island on British Columbia’s Central Coast only further supports the oral histories of the Heiltsuk Nation. The Heiltsuk Nation has shared the story of how their ancestors were able to survive the Ice Age by fleeing to a safe coastal area of Canada. Remarkably these stories remain accurate for thousands of years, the archeological site is believed to be over 13,800 years old (older then the Egyptian Pyramids).
Oral histories have not been as accepted by mainstream society as written history. In 1997 with the Supreme Court ruling in the Delgamuukw Land Titles case mainstream society was forced to look at the accuracy and legitimacy of Oral History. At the same time it seems that Indigenous Peoples have to defend Oral History more then the written word.
A site that connected oral history to archeological evidence would be very interesting? Would it be useful? To who?
According to the Canadian Institute of Health Aboriginal Youth are five to six times more likely to commit suicide then non-aboriginal peers. So the Maclean’s article on Bella Bella titled, “The Town that Solved Suicide” is attention getting. Bella Bella was able to give everyone, including the youth of the community, hope. Hope that the future would be brighter and there would be ways individuals could contribute to the community and economically to their families. Lot’s of research has been done on suicide rates in Indigenous Communities, is there research on what communities can do to stop this? Are stories of these successful communities shared online with other communities?
First Nations have give so much to Canada. Without the guidance and charity of the First Nations the original explorers may not have survived. The video is just a fun way of reminding everyone that many landmarks, lakes and rivers had Aboriginal Name prior to the arrival of European Settlers. As Indigenous Leaders work to restore language, perhaps we will more of the original names.
Aboriginal students are struggling in both mainstream and online schools. In Canada, approximately 50% of Aboriginal Students complete their high school education, compared to their non-indigenous peers of whom about 80% graduate high school.
Many First Nation High School students have, in the past, had to leave home to obtain a secondary school diploma. A 2014 CBC News Report titled “Internet high school gives First Nations students options” covered the opening of Keewaytinook Internet High School which allowed First Nation students in Northern Ontario had to remain in their community while furthering their education past grade nine. Principal Darrin Porter explained that this allowed the youth to stay in their community where they were supported. Many students, and their families, would lean towards completing secondary education online rather then leaving home for a variety of reasons including students young age, parent and grandparent school experience and support of community and family.
· What percent of Aboriginal students are choosing to take online courses so they can remain at home?
· Are students who take online courses more successful then students who leave home to attend high school?
“Internet High School Gives First Nations Students Options.” CBC News, 17 Sept. 2014, www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/internet-high-school-gives-first-nations-students-options-1.2768235.
“Keewaytinook Internet High School | STAY AT HOME BUT STAY IN SCHOOL!” Keewaytinook Internet High School | STAY AT HOME BUT STAY IN SCHOOL!, kihs.knet.ca/. Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.
“Professor Russell Bishop.” Te Kotahitanga, tekotahitanga.tki.org.nz/About/Our-People/Professor-Russell-Bishop.
Simon, Jesse, et al. “Post-Secondary Distance Education in a Contemporary Colonial Context: Experiences of Students in a Rural First Nation in Canada.” The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, Athabasca University, Feb. 2014, www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1357/2770.