Elders’ Voices


After responding to week 8’s question about technology and the role of the elder, I went online to search for links in this area, and came across this website.  My thinking has certainly changed, as the first thought to cross my mind was “who authored this site”, then “what was their motive” and “what biases might they have carried if they were not representing themselves on this site”.  The site deals with projects that explore the tradition of storytelling and how technology might help preserve what has been eroded away.  It appears that this project team has been dismantled but there are still many audio and video links of elders sharing stories and experiences in many areas.

“As one explores these video and audio segments, one will see the faces, the gestures, and the expressions that will enrich the meanings of the words one hears.”  (quote from the website)

November 2, 2010   No Comments

Virtual Museum of Metis History and Culture

Founded in 1976 in order to serve the educational and cultural needs of Saskatchewan’s Métis, the Virtual Museum of Metis History and Culture is an exceptionally well designed and built web portal of useful online digital learning tools about Metis Culture and traditions.   In traditional Métis and Aboriginal peoples’ society, education was informal and was passed down to youth from the Elders.  This form of education centred on resource extraction and how to make a living off of the land.

Since bison were at the centre of the Métis economy during the golden age of the Métis Nation (1816-1869), this hardy animal is a fitting symbol of traditional Métis education. Métis youth would have learned from their Elders the many useful and lifesaving applications, which this one animal provided to their entire society.  This section contains all learning resources commissioned for the Virtual Museum, in addition to many of the Gabriel Dumont Institute’s proven educational resources from the past.  The Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research (GDI) was founded in 1976 in order to serve the educational and cultural needs of Saskatchewan’s Métis. GDI is the official educational affiliate of the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan.

In these oral history sessions, where stories are passed down “digitally,” one session I think particularly interesting and expressive of the essence of these online resources is the Michif storytelling circle that would occur one day prior to the opening of the National Michif Language Conference held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.   The Storytellers told their own stories and answered questions prepared by the Institute. The entire proceedings of the workshop are in Michif-Cree. All told, there is approximately six hours of discussion in Michif-Cree relating to stories, traditional lifeways and families.

Web portal link:  http://www.metismuseum.ca/main.php

November 2, 2010   No Comments

FirstVoices Language Archive

A suite of web-based tools and services designed to support Aboriginal people engaged in language archiving, language teaching & culture revitalization, the FirstVoices Language Archive contains thousands of text entries in many diverse Aboriginal writing systems, imbedded with learning tools such as sounds, pictures and videos.   In addition, a companion set of interactive online games is designed to present the archived FirstVoices language data in creative learning activities.   What is intriguing is that there is a great deal of respect in this process of teaching, as some language archives at FirstVoices are publicly accessible, while others are password protected at the request of the language community.  As Linda Smith argues in her noteworthy book, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous “research” as a concept is still hurtful and resonates with imperialistic connotations of taking and leaving without benefitting those indigenous peoples who have been researched.

Website:  http://www.firstvoices.com/en/index-canada-west

November 2, 2010   No Comments

BC Lillooet Public Library – Digital Collection Initiative

Inspired by two other similar innovative online digital projects, namely the Aboriginal Youth Network and Aboriginal Digital Opportunities, Aboriginal stories were collected and then displayed on the Aboriginal Cultures and Traditions Storytelling website in both digital audio and text forms.

In 2005, the Lillooet Public Library began recording stories and songs for the library’s digital collection initiative.  Seven stories written by elementary school students about Lillooet, and two preschool songs with St’át’imc translations by Ms. Lémya7, were recorded and added to the library’s website in mp3 format. The library continues to add more stories and songs in the future in order to build a digital collection.  The stories and songs can either be streamed by clicking on the play button on the player, or downloaded onto the  computer.

This type of oral histories and songs captures the essence of First Nations’ storytelling, which is a powerful and traditional way of passing down knowledge to younger generations and preserving culture and heritage.   As Ms. Lémya7 teaches St’át’imc at the elementary schools in Lillooet, she often provides the library with her own translations of the preschool songs, such as The Itsy Bitsy Spider and If You’re Happy and You Know It, as well as singing them so they could be put on the website. Ms. Lémya7’s translations are less literal and instead capture the basic concepts of the original English versions of the songs.

In using these songs to help teach St’át’imc vocabulary to her students, the goal is to make them available on the internet so that more parents will be able to share them with their children.


November 2, 2010   No Comments