Indian Country Today Media Network is a comprehensive website that provides a platform for the Native voice. Again, the site is a platform for all Native voices and issues for those who are interested in current news, art, education, and events that are occurring within the local and global communities. The Indian Country Today Media Network also is an online community that has multiple forums for people who are interested in online discussions, acting as a social media medium. What I found to be intriguing is Canada has its own toolbar reference section outlining current political events and news within our own country. To have a site that is well laid out and easy to navigate, it is a great one stop shop for current news nationally and internationally!
In Through these Eyes, ( National Film Board, 2004) Charles Laird revisits the development of Bruner’s Man a Course of Study, social studies curriculum. In the early seventies educators attempted to transform cultural teaching for primarily American, elementary school students in an effort to develop cultural awareness, critical thinking and a more developed sense of what it means to be human. They did this by exploring Netsilik Inuit culture as was presented in films and comparing them with American values. Many of these films and discusssions took place in my own school,(I remember the seal) in Ontario although I was unaware of the controversey. The film discusses the Christian backlash to the notion of man as animal and cultural relativeness, and the overwhelming desire of many to protect traditional American values. Bruner’s contructivist model and attempts to make “kids more humane” did not succeed when the MACOS program lost funding and was pulled from the schools. The film brings up questions and concerns. What are traditional American/Canadian values? Who decides that? Have we changed much? Our current government is engaged in nudging Canadians back to the right (what is right?). Although we espouse the notion of constructivism and critical thinking, our provincial assesssment has no components that measure that. There is a great deal to learn from further study of this experiment.
When Michael Marker described the MACOS curriculum in the discussion thread “Critical of the Media”, I couldn’t help but look it up. In fact, although I don’t know if the teachers were actually following this curriculum or not, this represents my Social Studies education from about 1969 to 1975, in Southern Ontario. We explored the cultures of others from a perspective of equal value and I don’t recall any teacher preaching about who might be superior or primitive. In fact, as we tried to construct our own totem poles, teepees, cook succotash or carry the canoes around the playground, no-one felt superior. Of course, I see now how much of it was presenting a pan-aboriginal perspective but at the same time it did not present a Western/European superior perspective. Discussion revolved around what was known, what do we know and what can we learn about our place on the earth with each other. Following the links from the site mentioned above, leads to a great many insightful lessons with great potential for today’s learners. I hope to be able to apply at least some of it to my plans for my grade 2/3 class this year.
In Chapter 4 of Indigenous Cultures in an interconnected World, Zimmerman, Zimmerman and Bruguier, list a number of websites and productions that are authentically indigenous. I visited the site of Igloolik Isuma and was thrilled to find some excellent quality film and videos easily accessed on line. I was fortunate to see Atanarjuat when it first came out and it’s available on the site. I watched, Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, which is in Inuktitut language with English subtitles. With it’s high quality filming of the of the Arctic environment, the use of authentic music as background and the sharing of the wisdom of elders and others, who knew of the past traditions and the changes that are currently taking place was in stark contrast to the film, Nanook of the North. This is the sort of fim that would augment First Nations Studies for Canadian students and give them a greater, more authentic understanding of Innu way of life, traditionally and presently.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MiNO2qpESE[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jskD2oz4Nko&feature=related[/youtube] The role of media awareness and the potential for critical comparison of culture was highlighted as I searched through First Nations Animations of traditional stories. I started by watching the Big Rock Story, an animated legend produced by the Campbell River Museum, which has an excellent First Nations Program and also a great many artifacts from the past centuries. The Big Rock still stands at the entry to Campbell River, but I was reminded of Ripple Rock and the Ripple Rock explosion. The stark contrast of the two stories seemed to underline the conflict between the aboriginal relationship to the natural world and the western capitalist technological imperative.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCu3HtydHsk&feature=related[/youtube] This compilation of music and art presents the story of First Nations peoples as presented through the singing of Jana Mashonee. This seems like a good example to present to young students. The blend of current First Nations art and traditional story gives a sense of balance. However, when I googled Jana Mashonee, the first thing that came up was a poster-like representation that definitely had a Pochahontas-feel to it. It certainly has a very commercial feel but the music also seems to present positive messages for First Nations students and she seems to present the image of being a good role-model. This reminds me of the discussion regarding the non-neutrality of the internet. There are always messages delivered on many levels and that understanding them requires sharp critical skills.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vNXKC8qT8s[/youtube] After reading the Prins article, I decided to go hunting on youtube to see what was available regarding First Nations Culture. I wasconcerned that I would find cultural artifacts that might be of a sensitve nature and that are being misused. I haven’t found that yet, but I did find this clip. Steve MacDougall, of the Garden Hill First Nation in Manitoba describes what he feels is important, the elders and the children and that we can learn from both. I like the activity of creating something important out of clay and then discussing what it means to you. Young students would love that and it gets them in touch with each others feelings.
Prins, Harald E.L., “Visual Media and the Primitivist Perplex: Colonial Fantasies, Indigenous Imagination, and Advocacy in North America,” in Media Worlds: Anthropology on a New Terrain, eds. Faye D. Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002, 58- 74
In Aboriginal Education in Rural Australia: A case study in frustration and hope, Anne Katrin Eckerman chronicles the successes and challenges of developing a positive education environment for Aboriginal students and families in rural Australia. Again the systemic abuse of imparted by the forces of colonialization have wreaked havoc with communities, families and even each individual’s sense of self-worth. The article outlines some of the steps that have been taken to try and empower the community and develop a sense of ownership by giving people control over their lives and their education. I think it’s true in many Canadian schools that First Nations students feel completely disenfranchised. This article will likely make a huge contribution to my understanding of the trauma and challenges that have to be overcome to rebuild communities and students sense of self-esteem and give them the opportunity to determine their own futures.
Eckerman, Anne-Katrin. (1999) Aboriginal Education in Rural Australia: A case study in frustration and hope. Australian Journal of Education.
During the discussions we were reminded of the work of Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate that point out the challenges that parents are having connecting with their children. They attribute this to a general lack of intergenerational exchange in society. Alana Mitchel’s article in the Globe & Mail (2004) offers an overview of their findings. This lack of connectedness is significant to all families but even moreso to First Nations families or even to families of African Americans. These are families that have been torn apart and uprooted and systemically denied basic human rights over the past few centuries. Trying to rebuild those connections is an enormous challenge. When we are planning to introduce technology into the classroom are we ensuring that there are inter-generational opportunities? While I’m exploring using technology with young children in our schools, I’ll need to see how much of it is peer-to-peer and how much other generations are involved.
Canadian Aboriginal groups are experiencing rapid demographic change. Presently, approximately 60% of Canada’s Native People reside in urban settings, and 60% of the overall Aboriginal population is under the age of 25 (UNYA, 2011).
These demographic trends pose a distinct opportunity and challenge. Aboriginal youth are in a unique position to steer future directions in cultural preservation and development. My research interest is to determine how urban Native youths, particularly those who reside in Metropolitan Vancouver, have responded to life in a city setting, and to see if this provides any insights as to how Aboriginal identity will evolve in a 21st century landscape that is characterized by rapid technological change.
Specifically, my weblogs focus on the following questions:
- What currently shapes Aboriginal identity? Is Native identity still rooted in references to geography, linguistics, and colonialism or has the notion of identity evolved?
- How are urban Native youths responding to the challenge of defining themselves and being authentic in the realm of two sometimes competing cultures?
- There is now great socioeconomic and cultural diversity in Native communities. Has there been accommodation for this growing heterogeneity in programming for urban Aboriginal youth? Are urban Native youth still being treated as a problem?
- Are Aboriginal educational efforts effective in helping Native youth to preserve cultural knowledge and build a sense of identity? Is technology helping or hindering this process?
Urban Native Youth Association. (2011). A brief history of UNYA. Retrieved from http://www.unya.bc.ca/about-us