After the first few readings of this course, my interest has been peaked by the use of digital storytelling that is created by or with indigenous peoples for indigenous communities. Ginsburg (2002) discusses the potential that media such as satellite television transmissions have to indigenous communities in terms of offering a means of “cultural preservation and production and a form of political mobilization” (p. 54) and I’d like to explore the impact of the medium of digital storytelling.
I’ve found the following resources to be a great starting point for this focus. I’m not sure at the moment how I will narrow my focus down, but I’m excited about the possibilities within the realm of digital storytelling!
This project looks at how the residential school legacy is passed on between generations. There are several digital stories told by six women in their own words and their understanding of how residential schools have impacted them and the relationships they have with their mothers.
This article by Iseke and Moore (2011) covers a few projects of indigenous storytelling and discusses the many benefits of indigenous storytelling, including creating opportunities to understand political activism and reflecting cultural mandates of communities. It highlights the importance of indigenous self-representation and “reversing the colonial gaze by constructing their own visual media, telling their stories on their own terms” (p. 32).
I was intrigued by this aspect of storytelling. While different from digital stories, it discusses using videogames as a medium to spread indigenous values and stories. They are also being used to reconnect youth with their heritage and help to maintain it. The video game released is called Never Alone with the hopes that youth would listen, learn and pass down their stories for future generations. Here’s a video clip of the game developers discussing the collaboration between game designers and members of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council on the videogame’s development.
The Yijala Yala Project is based in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and it “seeks to highlight cultural heritage as living, continually evolving and in the here and now, rather than of the past, and works with community members to create content and develop skills that assist in communicating their cultural heritage to a wide audience.” You can see the list of all the videos they’ve created so far here: https://vimeo.com/user5307782
This article discusses a digital storytelling research project at Vancouver Island University where five Aboriginal youth are trained as mentors and research assistants to teach other Aboriginal Youth and Elders how to create their own digital stories about topics they find important. I want to share one quote that stood out to me from one of the research assistants, Gladys Joe: “I hope I can do this kind of work for the rest of my life. Sharing stories and culture through modern technology is beneficial for future generations.”
For my research topic, I have chosen to look at how First Nations groups might use technology to preserve their cultures and change they way they are perceived and portrayed in today’s society. I focused my search for module 2 keeping this topic in mind.
The first source I found is a Masters Paper from Athabasca University. It is titled The Perpetuation of Native Stereotypes in Film and is written by Kimberley Kiyawasew. In this paper, Kiyawasew talks about some of the stereotypes of Native Peoples that are portrayed in the film industry. She then goes on to talk about First Nations Filmmakers and how they are changing the storylines and making films that “reflect a truer representation of Native people” (Kiyaywasew, 2014, p.1). These films are challenging the stereotypes that have been previously established by the media and film industry and are a way that First Nations groups are representing themselves to the world in an authentic way.
My second source doesn’t necessarily connect with my research topic but thought it was worth sharing. My friend Carolyn Roberts has created a website, complete with lesson plans around Indigenous education. On this site, she include online and print resources to use in the classroom. She is from the Squamish Nation Indian Band but her ancestors came from the N’Quatqua Band in D’Arcy BC. Because of her background, I trust this to be an authentic source of information and some might find it useful to their studies. http://www.carolynroberts.net/about-me
The third source that I looked at was called Reconciliation Canada. “Reconciliation Canada, an Indigenous-led organization, began in September 2012 with a bold vision to promote reconciliation by engaging Canadians in dialogue that revitalizes the relationships between Indigenous peoples and all Canadians in order to build vibrant, resilient and sustainable communities. A vision based on a dream held by Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, Reconciliation Canada’s Ambassador, to witness tens of thousands of people of every culture and faith walking together for a shared tomorrow.” On this site, you can learn about programs and initiatives surrounding Reconciliation, as well as many online videos and resources on this topic. As this is an Indigenous-led organization, I believe it to be an authentic source of information and shows Indigenous cultures using technology to represent themselves.
The fourth source I looked at was Animikii. They are an Indigenous-Owned technology company based in BC on Coast Salish Territory; “Our technology enables our clients to maximize their social and cultural impact by making effective use of web-based technology. By connecting people with technology we believe that this will build a stronger identity for Indigenous people.” This is a great resource as it shows how technology is being used to represent and connect Indigenous cultures. It also has links to websites that they have created for various clients, providing access to authentic sources of information.
The fifth source that I looked at was the First Nations Technology Council. “The First Nations Technology Council has been mandated by the First Nations Summit, BC Assembly of First Nations and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs to address the technology related needs of BC’s First Nations communities.” One of the goals of the First Nations Technology Council is the “revitalization and preservation of language and culture,” which fits in with my research topic.
The two links below both concern fashion, representation of Indigenous people, and the use of social media.
Got Land? Thank an Indian
A Saskatchewan school created a controversy when they disallowed teenager Tenelle Star, a member of the Star Blanket First Nation, from wearing her sweat shirt which read “Got Land?” on the front, and “Thank an Indian” on the back to school. After discussions with the school board, and First Nations leaders, the she was permitted to wear her shirt. But, the student was harassed on social media, and eventually her parents felt it was safer for her to close her Facebook account.
Tactless T-shirts by Big Retailers
Vans was selling a t-shirt with an image of a beer can totem pole. A Métis man from Vancouver, Chad Girardin, created a social media campaign via a Change.org petition. The petition asked Vans to remove the “Wizard Totem” shirt, and requested a formal apology. The shirt was removed from the shelves.
“Manifest Destiny was the catch phrase which led to the genocide of millions of my people, millions of Indigenous people throughout this country.”
Of course, Vans in not the first big company, to make such a faux pas. A few years ago the Gap was selling a shirt with the catch phrase “Manifest Destiny“. That was the “term was used to justify American expansion into the west during the 19th century”. Again it was through a social media campaign that the company was forced to remove the t-shirt from their shelves.
I had the wonderful opportunity when I was in Regina last week to meet with Phyllis Kretschmer who is my Mother’s good friend. She is Saulteaux and Cree and a strong activist for Aboriginal issues. She told me stories about her terrible experiences as a student at Residential school. It is very difficult to imagine self-representation or self-determination in a setting where students were strapped for requesting an eraser from a classmate. Where their braids were cut off without ceremony and where the majority of their week was spent either doing manual labour or absorbing the tenets of the Church in catechism classes, and where the idea of stockings without holes was a fond hope.
Phyllis was able to move forward from these experiences, based on strong family support and being able to find confidence in herself after years of being told by the teachers at the residential schools that she was stupid.
Now at the age of 79, she remains actively involved in educating both Aboriginals and Non Aboriginals about the history of First Nations communities.
She is involved in the Idle No More Movement started a couple of years ago (see articles below) and is a member of the Intercultural Grandmother’s Group organized through the University of Regina. This is where my Mother met her, often partnering with her when they visit Elementary and High Schools to share First Nations knowledge. Students then also see that First Nations issues are cared about by the Mainstream community as well.
Information about Idle No More and Intercultural Grandmother’s Uniting
This is a handbook prepared by a community of Canadian First Nations groups that outlines some of the lessons they learned through their experiences community planning and offers information regarding “best practices” to strengthen future implementation. The handbook includes a section about social media’s role in fostering communication and networking amongst groups, and offers an interesting insight into the value that is inherent in a “from the ground-up” approach to ensure the success of community planning within indigenous communities.
This article, while focusing on Indigenous populations in Australia, provides for some interesting insight as to how social media has given rise to significant cultural and social interaction among Aboriginal people and groups. By way of a content analysis, this article contends that popular social media sites, like Facebook, are becoming popular vehicles amongst Aboriginal people, to build, display, and perform Aboriginal identities. Likewise, Aboriginal users take advantages of Facebook as a site for self-representation and as a tool to communicate their Aboriginal identity to other social media users in online communities.