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?
Jackson 2Bears is a multimedia artist and cultural theorist who’s work “explores the aesthetics of contemporary Indigenous identity—its various manifestations, transformations, simulations and hybridizations—within the context of our hyper-mediated, technologically saturated culture (http://jackson2bears.net/).”
My first exposure to his work was through his Vimeo posting of ‘Ten Little Indians’: a remix embedded with visuals that creates a very strong artistic portrayal of children being stolen from their families by social workers.
Jackson 2bears is also a member of Beat Nation: a group who’s aim is to promote Indigenous hip hop culture. Their belief is that through this popular medium, they are not assimilating to colonialist culture; rather, they are challenging it by using mainstream technology to promote Indigenous culture.
“These artists are not turning away from the traditions as much as searching for new ways into them. Hip hop is giving youth new tools to rediscover First Nations culture. What is most striking about this work is how much of it embraces the traditional within its development. (http://www.beatnation.org). ”
For me, I am interested in Jackson 2bears work because it directly challenges the notion that Indigenous culture is a historical reference. Both sonically and visually he portrays our modern environment through a critical Indigenous lens.
Sounding Out! is peer-reviewed weekly podcast/publication that unites sound artists, scholars and professionals all with the aim of investigating how sound effects us politically, culturally, and emotionally. In addition to their regular contributors, Sounding Out also curates other peoples work and allows outside contributions from interested researchers, artists and readers.
What I like about this project is that they are providing a platform for contributors to present work that otherwise do not have access to academic communities.
Essentially, Sounding Out can be considered a searchable portal for a very underrepresented sonic community.
Through the site I have managed to find the following topical recordings & writings:
The ‘Centre for Global Soundscapes‘ is an organization who’s mandate is to document, globally, the worlds vast and ever-changing sonic environments. As part of their mission, they strive to document vanishing or endangered soundscapes.
Though this project may not have a direct link to Indigenous culture and technology, it inadvertently politicizes sound. That is, by documenting the effects that western economic policy has both sonically and environmentally on the world, the project captures the infiltrating sonic penetration of our modern structures.
Imagine Native is a Toronto based Indigenous run media company. They are a non-profit society with the aim of distributing a breadth of Indigenous created media content. In addition to organizing film festivals and screenings, they offer workshops and resources for emerging artists (http://www.imaginenative.org)
Hidden in their publication page, there are numerous topical essays related to arts and technology. This content is worth a lengthy glance. They also offer a quick preview for their film festival content.
This is a great resource to find films that are not advertised or supported by large format media.
Below are links and descriptions of the four featured films:
Sisters & Brothers by Kent Monkman is a film that juxtaposes archived images of bison herds with images of residential school survivors. The film makes connections to the extermination of the bison population with the genocidal practices of white settlers.
I’m still in the process of deciding how I would like to narrow my research. At the moment, I am thinking of focusing on the benefits and/or disadvantages of e-Learning for Indigenous students. When I signed up for this course, it was my hope that I would gain some insight into how e-Learning opportunities could be offered to remote indigenous communities. I currently work in a post-secondary institution in a Continuing Education non-credit department, where a lot of our students are already within industry, but come to us to advance their skill set. Also, we get a lot of adult students that are looking for a career change, but don’t have the time, resources, or past credentials to enroll in a full-time credit diploma or degree program. I’ve now worked in my department for over two years, and although our primary audience (from what I see) is the middle-aged professional adult learner, we have very limited options for distance education, and especially for indigenous communities. After learning of the tragedy that continues of basically forcing children to leave their land and families to attend high school and even post-secondary, I kept thinking to myself: there must be a way to offer better educational resources while allowing Indigenous people to remain on their land. To me, this need to leave reserves for education still mirrors some of the issues that were faced by children in residential schools. My interest in this topic was intensified after reading “After the Makah Whale Hunt Indigenous Knowledge and Limits to Multicultural Discourse” when I learned how important land is to Indigenous identity, and I learned of the term “place based culture.”
Here are the first five of the resources I have found related to this topic:
This video further spiked my interest in exploring the need for e-Learning in rural Indigenous communities. Although this video doesn’t specifically focus on e-Learning, it focuses on the separation rural Indigenous Communities face in having to send students into larger “hub” cities to attend High School. These students generally live with strangers, and they suffer loneliness, depression, racism, etc. In many rural Indigenous communities (this film primarily discusses rural Northern Ontario communities) students are faced with the choice after grade eight of either staying home with their families and not attending High School, or leaving their family and their land to attend High School alone. The video comments on how not offering quality education within rural Indigenous communities is racial discrimination against children, and racial discrimination shouldn’t be a public policy that’s tolerated just to save money.
This makes me wonder what e-Learning could offer in helping Indigenous communities to stay together, and not be separated by lack of resources.
This article talks about post-secondary distance education and some of the challenges that need to be faced for successful implementation and adoption of e-Learning in remote regions. This article also reports on student experiences. Additionally, this article discusses the importance of giving First Nations people the opportunity to stay on their land in order to mitigate government efforts to remove them from their land to exploit resources. Finally, the article discusses the technology available to rural communities, and the benefits and drawbacks of these technologies.
This report was funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Although this report focuses on Human Resource Development, this report does touch on the fact that “…one of the greatest potential areas for incurring both long-term economic and social benefits is by investing in online education created and provided in cooperation with Aboriginal communities” (p. 19). It also addressed some of the barriers still faced by Indigenous communities in offering successful online learning.
This article explores perspectives of e-Learning for Indigenous students in coastal communities in Labrador. It discusses the learning needs of Indigenous students and the “…achievement issues that continue to characterize aboriginal populations.” Additionally, it also discusses the opportunities and unique challenges that rural communities face with e-Learning.
This book discusses some of the challenges faced in deploying successful distance education courses. Although this book was published in 2003, it still offers a good insight into what education specialists, Metis, First Nation, and Inuit Organizations believe are the challenges communities face in implementing e-Learning. It touches on how it is important to recognize individual community and student needs, and not only common Indigenous needs across all of Canada. The book discusses issues related to cost, politics, and the “…perception that distance education is a second-rate option” (p. 8). This book discusses specific communities that have had distance education successes.
Marker, M. (2006). After the makah whale hunt: Indigenous knowledge and limits to multicultural discourse. Urban Education, 41(5), 482-505.
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.
This article deals with the slow death of many traditional Canadian First Nation languages. Canada once houses over 70 distinct languages, but according to the latest census only 60 still exist and of those, only 3 remain strong.
The Mohawk language is another one which is barely hanging on, but a program has taken steps to re-teach to young students to speak it. Residential schools played a large part in the destruction of language. It is well documented that students who spoke their native tongue were beaten or worse. Unfortunately, knowledge of culture is passed through generations through language. If the language dies, the culture and knowledge will follow. It is a lose-lose situation for communities when a language dies.
Based on my research, the bleakest area is British Columbia, where over half of the First Nation languages call home. Only 1 in 20 First Nation persons is fluent in their language and most of those are elders. Young people are not picking up the language as much as is needed for survival. There is a push to rectify that situation. More can speak the Native tongue in comparison to 2006, but the language is still in danger.
Racist beliefs (many left over from Residential School ideology) have led some First Nations to believe they are somehow ‘more’ Canadian if they don’t speak their Native tongue. In addition, a lack of opportunity hurts the language. Some believe outside of teaching, what is the point of getting a second, albeit, their first language. Moreover, only NWT recognizes some Aboriginal languages as official languages.
This article was an eye-opener to further demonstrate how the use of technology can help with the re-emergence of cultural ideas and language in First Nation communities. If I were to use it in a final project, I would juxtapose it against how technology could help preserve Aboriginal languages in culture.