Tag Archives: Technology

Urban Aboriginal Primitive Technology Studies & Practice

The Urban Aboriginal Primitive Technology Studies & Practice page is a site targeting urban indigenous people that provides information on how to make things like dreamcatchers, crossbows, cattail visors, shelters and pretty much everything other traditional aboriginal practice you could think of.

Although there is no vision statement included, it appears that the goal of the website is to support the development of traditional skills by offering resources and instructional materials (often in video format) among people who do not have opportunities to learn these practices through elders or community members.

The site demonstrates a practical approach to technology and how it can be used to support cultural transmission.  It fits in well (I think) with the focus of Module 4.



Module 4: Third World Farmer


Third World Farmer is a game that makes use of Indigenous knowledge and teaches gamers about the struggles of a farmer in a developing nation.  The game bridges technology and IK in many layers.  The first layer is that of the actual game design–it is a game on a computer, but the rules of the game are dictated by environmental and social factors that influence the livelihood of an African farmer, and to overcome the difficulties, the gamer must discover the Indigenous knowledge to be successful.  Within the game IK and technology are also linked.  When the gamer starts, all she has is her family and a bit of money.  She must research the various crops and decide how best to spend her money.  Through trial and error, the gamer develops a very rudimentary form of Indigenous knowledge.  As the gamer makes more money, she can buy various technologies that will make her life easier and help her yield better crops and thus make more money.

Some of the criticisms I have of this game are that the fact that it is a game may trivialize the plight of the third world farmer.  There is not a lot of education going on to really inform the gamer of the social implications of the GAME itself.  There is infomation about the severity of the situation in Africa, and a critical thinker would understand the message, but the average gamer would not see that while he or she may have just lost their entire family to a plague, the actual farmer the character represents can’t escape this reality.  Another criticism is that the issues behind the struggles are not very well articulated.  It does show that these farmers are being forced to work with in the confines of mechanization, but it doesn’t reveal that the increase in length, frequencey and severity of droughts is caused by industrialization and capitalism.  You also can’t save your game and pick up where you left off later.  This is frustrating from a game point of view, but also from a learning point of view.  To get the full effect of the game, several hours are required, which I’d like to expend over a few weeks, but because I can’t save the game, I have to start over each time, but I also don’t have the stamina (or time or patience) to spend 7 consecutive hours playing the same game.

Diaspora, Indigenous and Minority Education.

Diaspora, Indigenous and Minority Education is on online journal focusing on global indigenous issues, particularly with regard to education.  I found a number of articles that may be of interest to students in ETEC 521 and module 3 in particular.

Here’s a link to an article in the journal: “Reclaiming Indigenous Representations and Knowledges” by Judy Iseke-Barnes & Deborah Danard.  This article discusses the use of the Internet by scholars, artists and activists to reclaim indigenous knowledge and to critique the “dominant discourse”.

Here’s another article: “Increasing School Success among Aboriginal Students: Culturally Responsive Curriculum or Macrostructural Variables Affecting Schooling” by Yatta Kanu.

This journal is a great resource. As well, some of the contributing authors (such as Judy Iseke-Barnes) are worth exploring for additional relevant content.

Illustrating post-secondary options and outcomes to Aboriginal Youth

It is not uncommon for high school students to be unsure about their options after graduation. For Aboriginal students, who may not have seen traditional ways of knowing or learning reflected in their school experience (As per Dr. Marker’s Four Winding Paths up the Mountain), post-secondary options can seem even more murky and the benefits and outcomes of higher education might not be immediately apparent. For students who successfully achieve their high-school education (or to inspire students who may be faltering in the later high school years) there are various opportunities to inspire and connect youth to college experiences as well as showcase Aboriginal role models in higher education settings and the workplace. In British Columbia, the provincial government connects Aboriginal youth to internship opportunities through their Aboriginal Youth Internship Program. College Horizons is an independent program in the United Stats that supports both undergraduate and graduate students to help navigate the “jungle” of admissions process and related requirements of college.  Jared Whitney provides an article reflecting Indigenous perspectives on College admissions (via College Horizons). There are many other examples, many individual provinces and states have programs along with national-level opportunities.

Globalization & Autonomy

Indigenous Perspectives on Globalization: Self-Determination Through Autonomous Media Creation

Globalization and Autonomy – Website

This website is a great resource for Module 3’s theme of Indigenous Knowledge, Media and Community Reality. It is well designed, aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly, easy to navigate, includes 2 different menu bars. On the right it is a glossary of terms and on the left it is divided into Topics, Quick Links and More Information. It has great number of links to topics about many different aspects of Indigenous peoples and their cultures including common topics such as: Community & Identity, Culture, Democracy, Global Governance, Indigenous Peoples, Property Rights, Technology, Trade and Finance, and World History. It also addresses colonialism and Indigenous history (for a variety of different communities and Indigenous cultures)! This site also ties in well with my topic of Elders and Technology and closely correlates with our Module 2 discussions of stereotypes. This site does a great job of addressing different types of Indigenous rights and communities and their identities. Excellent information found here, this site will be one that I will use and reference in the future for sure!

Internet use and indigenous women


This research paper written for the National Network for Aboriginal Mental Health Research in 2005. It addresses the question of whether or not the internet is a useful tool for indigenous women living in remote areas in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to access health resource. This article discusses the digital divide and how it affects indigenous communities. Based on the statistics presented, there is an apparent digital divide between on-reserve Aboriginal population versus the rest of Canada. There is also a divide between the Canadian population and Northern Aboriginal communities in terms of access to the internet. The article explains how the internet is beneficial to the health of aboriginal women and their families. The author also mentions the challenges of having internet technology implemented into aboriginal communities as there are concerns such as language barriers, cultural bias, and fears of assimilation.

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 Native Youth Association

Urban Native Youth Association 

UNYA is a non-profit society that operates out of 1618 East Hastings Street in Vancouver.  It is one of the few organizations dedicated to servicing urban aboriginal youth.

The organization was founded in 1988 when it became evident that many young Aboriginals were leaving reserves and setting out for life in the big city with few job skills, training, education, or insights as how to seek help.

Like other sources, this organization is quick to mention the rapidly growing impact of Aboriginal youth on Canadian demographics.  They state that “approximately 60% of the Native population lives in urban settings, and 60% of the overall Native population is under the age of 25.”

The challenges of youth who may be detached from their traditional language, spirituality, guidance, support structures, and practices is significant.  UNYA helps Aboriginal youth living in metro Vancouver to maintain some of these connections in a variety of ways and helps young people address some of the really harmful practices that teens can get themselves into.

Here are a few UNYA programs and initiiatives:

  • Cedar Walk – an alternative educational day program
  • Mentorship program to provide youth with positive social, educational, cultural, and recreation opportunities
  • Native Youth Learning Centre: life management skills, assisted computer applications, job search skills, and career development
  • Personal counseling (including wellness, mediation, and drug & alchohol intervention)
  • Residential programs for at-risk youth (Safehouse, Ravens Lodge, Young Bears Lodge, Young Wolves Lodge)
  • Recreation programs (canoeing, reading tepee, Sun Run etc…)
  • Fundraising to build a state0-of-the-art Native Youth Centre in East Vancouver
  • K’wam K’wum Q’ulumuy’ (Strong Young Women) – a 10 minute educational anti-violence video made by 5 young women in cooperation with UNYA.
  • Cree language instruction is available  (partnership with UBC)

As we all know, Native youth are over-represented in areas such as school dropout, incarceration, and suicide.  UNYA is helping to curb these devastating trends and provide positive options for Urban Native youth who otherwise may have nowhere to turn.

Language Preservation and Revitalization Through Technology

The goal of my research will be similar to Nicola’s: examining ways that indigenous groups are using technology to help preserve and revitalize languages. I had the opportunity to work for the Ktunaxa Nation Tribal Council for a year writing proposals to generate funding to support their wide variety of projects. A couple of the proposals were to support the preservation and revitalization of their almost extinct isolate language. Both proposals were funded: one for doing an inventory of fluent speakers and the other to initiate the development of a high speed broadband system to connect their five rural communities to support language preservation.  I ended up writing the final report for the fluent speaker project as the Ktunaxa researcher hired to do the work left the community after the interviews were completed and the data was compiled. At that time in 2002 there were only about 36 fluent speakers alive, however, today I understand the total has dwindled to about 20.

At the end of 2002 I moved back to Calgary and became involved in mainstream technical post-secondary education; however the challenge of the dwindling Ktunaxa fluent speaker population was always in the back of my mind. Now with my enrolment in this course, I started to think about how the Ktunaxa Nation language preservation and broadband project had evolved. I reconnected with my former boss and realized that finding out more about how indigenous people use technology to preserve and revitalize their languages is something that I would like to know more about.