Tag Archives: ecology

Indigenous Geography

Indigenous Geography.net is a website dedicated to bring indigenous and non-indigenous geographers together who believe that geography should be done “for and by the people of an area”.  It notes that maps have been important tools for colonization, so this site attempts to use maps to decolonize indigenous communities.

When you read the mission statement, you might think that the goal is to redraw maps until our geography is completely unrecognizable, but as you read more about the associations that contribute to the site, you realize that they want to provide service to indigenous geographers and communities, create partnerships with indigenous communities and explore ethical issues pertaining to research and geography vis-à-vis indigenous communities.

As an ecological topic, I think it aligns well with module 4.




Planners Network

Planners Network: The Organization of Progressive Planning may not be a website that comes to mind as a source for information on indigenous issues, but it has a great article on urban indigeneity from an urban planners perspective.   Indigeneity: A Cornerstone of Diversity Planning in Canadian Cities

It discusses some collaborative projects between aboriginal groups and city planners to develop more aboriginal friendly urban communities that will support aboriginal aspirations and self-determination.

The article identifies five priorities:

  1. Citizen Participation and Engagement.
  2. Governance Interface between Municipal Government and Aboriginal Peoples
  3. Aboriginal Culture as a Municipal Asset
  4. Economic and Social Development
  5. Urban Reserves, Service Agreements and Regional Relationships

Priority #3 is interesting.   The author noted that normally urban aboriginals are portrayed in terms of social problems, so the concept of treating their culture as an asset requires a very welcome shift in thinking.

I think this aligns very well with module 4.



Indigenous Education and Environmental Issues in Saskatchewan

This site fits nicely with Module 4’s theme of Ecological Issues in Indigenous Education and Technology. This site is courtesy of the Saskatchewan Eco Network. This website includes a variety of information about First Nations and Metis peoples and more specifically related to Saskatchewan. This site’s ecological theme is about teaching youth to have respect for nature and develop good relationships with the earth by learning through the cultural practices and traditional teachings of Indigenous peoples. The site has a number of other curriculum resources for the classroom created by Indigenous educators as well. They include unit topics such as:
• Traditional Plants
• Dances of First Nations
• Legends
• Dwellings

It has specific resources including lots of links to many such as ones about. Sections A-D are taken from the site:

A. Perspectives on Indigenous Education and teaching our young people about healing relations with the earth.
• Interview with Darlene Spiedel
from the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre

B. Resources on Indigenous Education and Environment in Saskatchewan
• Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre -SICC Interviews with Elders
• Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre – Languages Site

C. Practising the Law of Circular Interaction: First Nations Environment and Conservation Principles – the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre.

D. Rekindling Traditions : Cross-Cultural Science & Technology Units (CCSTU) Project
Rekindling Traditions is a project undertaken by the Ile la Cross School Division. Elders, teachers, and curriculum developers from different schools came together to develop the materials. They describe the goal of the curriculum as follows:
To make Western science and engineering accessible to Aboriginal students in ways that nurture their own cultural identities; that is, so students are not expected to set aside their culture’s view of the material world when they study science at school.
There are units on:
• Snowshoes
• Nature’s Hidden Gifts
• The Night Sky
• Survival In Our Land
• Wild Rice
• Trapping
The site also provides a list of organizations and interviews with educators that one can access for additional information to perhaps provide context to the resources. This site has quickly become one of my top favourites and will be included as a resource for my final paper as it includes relevant information about my topic of the Evolution of the Role of Elders with the Rise of Digital Technology. Really excellent website!!!

The Girl Who Silenced the World

Somewhere in my readings over the past weeks I came across the mention of an impassioned speech given by a young girl, David Suzuki’s daughter, Severn to the U.N. At the age of just 13, Severn articulated all that is wrong with the way that we exploit, commodify, and destroy our ecological resources. Even if you’ve seen it before I think it is worth seeing again, as it offers such a great reminder of all that we have, all that others don’t, and the need to share our knowledge to restore the world in which we live and the land which we rely on. It is an excellent additional to this module’s readings on ecological traditions and ways of knowing. In the words of Severn Suzuki: “If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!”

Traditional Knowledge, Climate Change and Technology

Using the reductionist model of scientific ways of knowing—research and observation—alone is in adequate in the study of ecology and in particular climate change.  Ecosystems and climates are established over centuries, however, scientific data recording these events and cycles dates back only 50 or sixty years in some locations.  Few, if any, regions in the world have more than 100 years of data with which to analyze the health of an ecosystem or the patterns of a climate.

Also problematic with this approach to the study of the land, is the objective removal of the human being.  The reductionist model has the scientist standing back and watching as independent and dependent variables interact.  It is as if the human is not part of this ecosystem.  Limited, but recent and scary data suggest that assumptions that the vastness of the earth could never be affected by the human are coming to be challenged as climates and ecosystems are changing rapidly.  The idea that the human is separate from the land is being questioned by modern science, but modern science lacks a model that incorporates the human as an agent and member of these ecosystems, but there is no time to sit around and think of one.

Aboriginal traditional knowledge can help scientists understand better the changes happening in various regions of the world because traditional knowledge reaches so far back into the memory of indigenous groups.  The collective memory of indigenous groups provides a more holistic understanding of the intricacies and relationships that exist between species and systems.  The most important part of the traditional knowledge approach to understanding the environment is that the human being is placed as an active member of the system.  This role is important for people to recognize their power over the environment but more importantly, their responsibility.

My research will focus on analyzing how indigenous groups use the internet to promote a holistic approach to understanding ecosystems and climate change.  My hope is that I will see scientists and other aboriginal groups borrowing from each other as we attempt to understand and rectify, or live with, the changes that our planet is undergoing.