Module # 4 Indigenous Collective Memories and Technology

Module 4

Weblog # 1

This website is visually pleasing and offers information about the Deer Lake Reserve area, its history, governance, community etc.

Open to the public I decided to further explore the historical link to see how and if the Deer Lake community engaged in preserving their collective history and heritage. Beyond offering a short historical outline of the area, after further exploration I discovered a gallery of photos that represent a variety of social and ceremonial events, from Powwow’s to school and community activities and social events of all kinds.  What a great way to represent and share collective memories! The photos can be viewed or downloaded for storage or printing. Photos appear to have been viewed thousands of times, which demonstrates that the community has been using this website. What first appeared to be a static community web site turned out to be quite a dynamic one.   I decided to further explore the albums to see what I could learn through this form of self-representation.


Weblog # 2

So in order to really visit with this community and see how they share their collective memories I decided to look at the various events portrayed through this segment of their website.  I began with the children’s art gallery under the theme ‘Water is important’.

The drawings demonstrate the Indigenous way of knowing.  Children are likely learning about water and the physical and cultural importance it has for their people.  The messages in the drawings are powerful and speak of the need to preserve water, and the unity and relationship water has with the other elements found in nature. In the drawings, one can also see math elements, such as percentages and size comparisons, which demonstrates how Indigenous teaching within the schools bridges over with Western science. I can see how this format of representing student’s understanding can help promote and celebrate cultural beliefs.

Web site # 3

The next album visited is the one about a community Powwow held in the new school gym.

It is extraordinary to see so many different people from the community partaking in the celebration.  This is certainly a great example of Indigenous people ‘reclaiming’ their culture and identity and capturing it for future generations to see. Seeing the youth taking part in this ceremony portrays how this community is reaching out to this younger generation to get them in touch with their cultural roots.

By further perusing the Red Deer Lake Nation Website I came upon another segment I had not discovered, that of a video taken of the 2009 Treaty # 5 commemoration.  This proved to be a great discovery.

Web Site # 4

The video was filmed by the Nishnwabe Aski Nation for them. The short film portrays the 100-year commemoration of the signing of the treaty # 5.  According to Grand Chief Stan Beardy, this was a significant day for it confirmed they are a nation, for only nations can make treaties. During the film various people are interviewed and it clearly shows that they are proud of this legally binding agreement.  It is in a way seen as a way to reconcile various levels of government.  It is interesting to see all the youth attending and listening to the various speeches given by elders – The filming of this event, captures how collective memories are shared through storytelling and transferred from youth to elders. An extensive photo gallery also provides a great historical overview of the last 100 years within the Red Deer Community. – Interview segment

The Interviews were the most incredible and poignant testimonials and portrayal of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. I felt that by watching these short ‘interviews’ with various individuals, I was actually visualizing how technology can be used to share Indigenous identity with others. The interview with Irene Rae is done in her language, and she is having a grand time talking with the microphone, perhaps for the first time.  She is sharing her collective memories.

The storytelling by James Deer Trap, who also talks in the traditional language, is translated for those who do not speak the traditional language.  This too portrays a way for this community to preserve collective memories, and capturing it on video and diffusing it online provides a bigger audience. This is a good example of the transmitting of history through storytelling.  Now his words are captured and stored for prosperity and can be revisited.

The short videos portrayed the influence of ‘Canadian’ heritage through ‘jig’ dancing, wrestling, and a historical humorous ‘skit’ to represent the essence of treaty # 5. In a sense, this is a modern version of  ‘storytelling’ with a hint of humor. All of these activities demonstrate a desire to move on with their lives.

The interview with Mrs Ruth Only was interesting, for the inclusion of this segment shows a gesture for the community to heal and move forward.


Site # 5

By going back to the main Website, I perused their ‘Health’ segment and found it was quite complete and showed a thriving community, but also a link to ‘Wawatay News’.  I was pleased to find one could access a live ‘Radio’ station.

Wawatay Radio Network provides radio programming to more than 300,000 Aboriginal people in Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Treaty 3 area. WRN provides news that is at once regional, national, and international, and surprisingly in the Aboriginal languages of Northern Ontario: Ojibway, Oji-Cree, and Cree. It also provides an English version for those who don’t speak the ancestral languages. Another great way to celebrate and engage in collective memories of various local and community events.

On the website I also found podcasts addressing Indigenous children about health issues. Also featuring such shows as ‘Spirit in your Voice’, which share stories about survivors of residential schools, successful stories of healing.


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