Author Archives: ajevne

Cheryl’s Urban Aboriginal Life

Cheryl Matthew is from the Simpcw First Nation in BC but lives in Ottawa where she is a PhD student at Carleton.  On her blog (Cheryl’s Urban Aboriginal Life), she writes on a variety of indigenous topics but the focus is on urban identity issues. One of the themes of her research is the indigenous “diasporic experience” and how, in the absence of a direct connection to a land base, urban aboriginals learn to construct identity and meaning through other cultural means, including new media. She demonstrates this by her use of technology but also writes extensively about it.

Many of her posts are quite academic, not surprisingly as they are part of her research, but others are quite casual as she discusses her experience as an educated aboriginal living in a large city.

This site is a great resource for anyone researching urban aboriginal issues.

Turtle Island Native Network

I’m not sure what the Turtle Island Native Network (TINN) is exactly (other than an independent aboriginal news network) as I wasn’t able to find a mission statement anywhere or even a clear theme running through the content. I think that may be the strength of the site; it’s got a bit of everything.  It’s almost a “digital refrigerator” with a ton of links to other media sources providers.  If you are looking for information on a contemporary indigenous topic, you will find something here.

I found this site when I was researching urban indigeniety and I came across TINN’s  Spotlight on Urban Aborginals.  Most of the content showcases (usually using video) individual aboriginals who are discussing their lives and challenges. While there are few direct references to the value or risk of using technology, the site clearly is comfortable with new media as a means to strengthen connections and articulate indigenous identity.

Urban Rez Productions

Urban Rez Productions is an independent digital media production company that features documentaries on indigenous communities.  Most are Canadian but some are based in New Zealand.

One of their main productions has been “Storytellers in Motion” which profiles indigenous filmmakers, television producers and media creators, all proudly using 21st century technology to tell their stories, which are either embedded in community life or in terms of their own individual experience. Not surprisingly, many of the featured media producers discuss their own struggles with confronting stereotypes.

The name of the site suggests a focus on urban issues, but it also includes traditional non-urban settings as well.

Red Works Studio

Nadya Kwandibens is a photographer from the Ojibwe nation who is now based in Vancouver. Her website is Redworks Studio.  She uses technology (principally photography but video as well) to confront stereotypes of aboriginal people and to present images that challenge ideas of indigeneity.  Much of her work is rooted in urban settings and she has been working on a series entitled Concrete Indians that explores the identity issues that urban aboriginals encounter.

She’s a great photographer who is completely comfortable using technology to present her vision of indigenous identity, which respects tradition but is also dynamic and modern.

Kwandibens has been featured by a number of news and media outlets (her website has links to many of these) and she exhibits frequently across Canada.

Aboriginal Art Online

Aboriginal Art Online

This website provides information on aboriginal art, artists and social issues in Australia.

My main research goal is to explore urban indigenous issues, particularly as they relate to land, identity and use of technology, so my principle interest in this page was the section on urban aboriginal art ( where there is an overview of the development of contemporary indigenous art, which has become a unique style blending traditional indigenous forms and non-indigenous influences.

It is interesting to read how many of these urban artists view themselves as part of the mainstream artistic community and resist being marginalized as “indigenous” artists.  They have also had to deal with stereotypes from both indigenous and non-indigenous communities as they have forged their own styles.

I think the content of this website aligns best with module 2 although I think it could also fit into the other modules as well.

Connection to Research Topic

The focus of my weblogs will be on urban aboriginal issues related principally to identity and disconnection to land.  I was very interested by the Howe and Bowers articles and their descriptions of the differences between western approaches to knowledge (supported by new media such as the Internet) and indigenous perspectives where ancestral knowledge is highly valued, and identify is formed through a relationship between a “unique community and their landscape” (Howe, 1998, p. 22).  How does this relationship change when indigenous people no longer live on their reserve, and are instead part of a larger multicultural society? How can authentic indigenous culture be maintained in urban environments without risking marginalization? Is it even possible for urban aboriginals to identify as indigenous when not embedded in a traditional landscape? How are aboriginals different than other minority groups?  Can technology play a part in the revitalization of indigenous culture or will it lead inevitably to assimilation?

I will be exploring urban aboriginal situations in other countries to see what differences or similarities exist.  I will also research artistic (not necessarily traditional) initiatives of urban aboriginals.


Howe, Craig, (1998). “Cyberspace is no place for tribalism,” Wicazo Sa Review (Fall, 1998), 19-27.

National Network for Urban Aboriginal Economic Development

The National Network for Urban Aboriginal Economic Development project was developed as a partnership between the University of Northern British Columbia and the Prince George Aboriginal Business Development Centre with a goal of fostering economic development in urban aboriginal communities.

Their website includes a vast amount of research on urban aboriginal issues (education, economic development, traditional practices, etc) as well as links to other organizations and community groups working in this field.

This is a good starting point for anyone interested in doing research on urban aboriginals.

Media Indigena

Media Indigena: is an interactive online magazine where indigenous issues and ideas are raised and discussed. It describes itself as both “curator and creator” in that it collects stories but also leads conversations on a variety of cultural topics such as art, politics and education.  Media Indigena uses new media (Twitter, Facebook, etc) extensively itself, but also showcases examples of indigenous groups who use technology to support cultural revitalization.

There are also a number of academic papers and reviews posted on this website, including a debate on the controversial book written in 2008 by Frances Widdowson called “Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry”, which first led me to the website.

Here’s the link to the debate:

This website will be useful for those researching cultural revitalization projects, technology, aboriginal identity issues and historical materialism as it relates to indigeneity.  From what I can tell, the content fits nicely into both module one and two.

Indigenous Peoples, Recording Techniques, and the Recording Industry

Here’s a link to an online journal produced by the Department of Ethnomusicology at the University of Bamberg in Germany.

Many of the posts are related to indigenous music.  This particular link is to an edition called “Indigenous Peoples, Recording Techniques, and the Recording Industry” and the articles provide ethnographic information on a wide range of aboriginal musical initiatives from many countries – the Sami in Scandinavia to Fijian societies to North American aboriginals.

The website provides summaries of each article but full copies are not available on this site; some can be found on the web and others I was not able to track down.  However, it is a great place to get ideas about ethnomusicology and to get exposure to aboriginal cultures that you may not have been familiar with before.

Edmonton Public Schools Aboriginal Education

This is a link to the Edmonton Public Schools Aboriginal Education page.  Edmonton has a very high urban aboriginal population (2nd highest in Canada) and according to a Globe and Mail article, may be poised to move ahead of Winnipeg into first spot.

One of the goals of Edmonton Public Schools is to improve and enhance the educational experience of Aboriginal students, families, and staff within the district. Edmonton Public has also committed to including aboriginal outcomes in its curriculum and to include an aboriginal educational perspective.

This website provides information and links to a number of initiatives, among them the Amiskwaciy Academy which is the first urban First Nations high school in Canada.  Besides this school there are wide range of programs customized to the educational needs of urban aboriginal youths as well as training and professional development for staff.

I didn’t find any specific references to the use of educational technology with respect to aboriginal education; however Edmonton Public Schools does have a strategic plan for the use of technology in schools, which addressed the technological needs of barriered populations.  This would presumably include aboriginal groups.