Angela – Module 1

This article is written by anthropologist and tattoo specialist Lars Krutak. Tattooing and headhunting are a meaningful part of the Kayan or indigenous people of Borneo. Tribal lifestyle is threatened not by the social structure in Borneo, where countless ethnicities and tribes live peacefully on one land; they are threatened by the destruction of the rainforest. This article gives a great overview of some Dayak traditions, but does unfortunately not accredit individual tribes for their symbols, beliefs and practices.

Here is the website of one of the last tattoo artists to use the tapping technique instead of an electric device. I was lucky meet Ernesto, and we had a great conversation about educational technology which is the premise of my blogroll; he was adamant that the culture of a traditional craft cannot be related over the internet, only the technique. This turned the focus of my research to include community building amongst tribes. Ernesto collected “genuine” artefacts (ones that were actually used in ceremony for rituals such as headhunting) from his own Iban tribe, and will only use the tapping method for traditional designs from Borneo.

This video from about 30 years ago shows an American travelling couple as the first Americans to visit a particular Iban longhouse. Tribe members honestly share the details of headhunting with the inquisitive couple. I appreciate this documentation, as it was created openly as Don and Betty stayed as guests in the longhouse. Even though much of the final cut focuses on the sensational headhunting, footage of the people as relaxed, hospitable and with humour helps the spell the notion of savage that might arise with the label “headhunter”.

Even further back in time, I like this video because as it shows some tender human moments, but also because it shows the songket weaving, Pua Kumbu, by one of the young girls.  The video does not list the tribe, it boasts itself as a vessel for time travel. One thing I appreciated about Sarawak (In Borneo) is that local people were very interested in this kind of slice of life from the history of the land’s people. Many places that I visited would frame old photos or other artistic renderings for the walls instead of more contemporary art.

This is a 50 minute documentary that follows two Canadian guys looking for traditional (tapping) tattoo artists in the jungles of Borneo. They learn how the practice cannot be separated from spirituality, community and the afterlife. They are joined by Lars Krutak, and become physically and mentally involved in the lifestyle of the Iban with a surprising ending. Actually, incredible.



June 2, 2013   No Comments

Dying languages or Language Revival…by Velasquez

I enjoy languages (I speak 3-1/2 languages) and will probably be doing my final paper on language revival/dying languages.

Here are some of the website and articles I’ve been looking at:

This site covers endangered languages from all over the world. I had no idea my place of birth was home to a few of them! And I had no clue how many languages were on the verge of extinction. I think if I head down this research path I’ll probably focus on Central/South America or the Middle East. While this is a great starting point, that’s all it is. The technology behind reviving a language is a whole other kettle of fish.

There’s no single cohesive way to record a language:

There’s audio recordings, video recordings, databases, online tools, apps, and written documentation. Here’s a fellow who may point the way to some more ideas…I’ll contact him to see what his thoughts are:

One of my concerns (and Coppélie hints to this) is the notion of technology being the silver bullet (didn’t the education world go through this a decade ago?):

Digital is not the savior of dying languages. We may be able to archive the languages, but languages are dead unless people speak them, and to speak them they need to interact with others and withing an environment that’s not hostile to that language. This may be something to explore…the archiving of languages vs. actually reviving them…

I think there’s an inherent problem in trying to revive a language outside of a given culture that is or has disappeared. I don’t say this to be mean, but just to point out that things like idiomatic expressions, subtle meaning, and things like double-entendres and jokes are often heavily dependent on context, without an environment or a mind who understands the environmental/social context , a dead language is like looking at a game board and not knowing the rules!

There’s plenty of fodder for this approach to endangered languages:

Peter Ladefoged  Another View of Endangered Languages Language Vol. 68, No. 4 (Dec., 1992), pp. 809-811

Ken Hale, Michael Krauss, Lucille J. Watahomigie, Akira Y. Yamamoto, Colette Craig, LaVerne Masayesva Jeanne and Nora C. England Endangered Lanuages. Language Vol. 68, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 1-42

Nancy C. Dorian  A Response to Ladefoged’s Other View of Endangered Languages Language Vol. 69, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 575-579

There’s also the political/cultural push for dominant cultures to eradicate other cultures, either forcibly or through other means (often economic in nature)…

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald Language Death by David Crystal Journal of Linguistics Vol. 38, No. 2 (Jul., 2002), pp. 443-445

There’s also the cost involved in reviving a language:

The topics surrounding language revival/dying languages are many…

Here are some videos I’ve been watching to get a better idea of what I’m getting into…

I may have to narrow down this research a bit more. If you have any suggestions or would like to discuss this topic  I’d love to hear from you!

June 1, 2013   No Comments

Final Post

As I reflect on my web log entries, I see how much I wanted to try to find the key to connect Outdoor Education and Native Education of our youth. I had a personal experience when I was 16 year old in Outward Bound that shaped me for my whole life. I personally learned the impact of spending time in the wilderness. In my 20’s, I discovered a program called Rediscovery that combined the benefits of Outward Bound and Native Culture. I wanted to see how to utilize some of these ideals and implement them into the classroom; and help teachers see the value of this approach. I discovered the connection between place based learning and Traditional Aboriginal knowledge that was the thread that ran through much of my research. In order to narrow my topic and make it feasible for my own practice, I chose to take the approach of place based learning into the classroom. Though the impact of learning in the out-of-doors would not be as great on single day journeys (field trips) as it would be on multi day immersion in the outdoors, I found that starting with this approach was a positive step.

December 3, 2012   No Comments


Web log #4

Entry 5

The British Columbia Teachers Federation has put together an Aboriginal Education Program (2012) that has some good resources and contacts for Aboriginal Teaching and Learning in B.C.

December 3, 2012   No Comments

TEKW Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Wisdom

Web log #4

Entry 4

This paper, Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Aboriginal People in British Columbia is by Nancy Turner, an Ethnobotanist out of UBC. She looks at three main themes of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Wisdom (TEKW), sustainability, world view and communication of knowledge. She charts plant resources like edible mushrooms, seaweeds, alder and cedar and their harvesting practices. Then she takes a couple of specific examples (yellow avalanche lily and balsamroot) and traces the use, knowledge and history of the plant. It gives a non-native a food sense of the scope of knowledge held by Aboriginal Peoples.

December 3, 2012   No Comments

North Vancouver Agreement between First Nations and Schools

Web log #4

Entry 3


The Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement is a five year (2011-2016) agreement made between schools, teachers, parents and governing bodies to meet the needs of students of Aborginal ancestry. It is a partnership between the Skwxwú7mesh Nation, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation and any other aboriginals living on the North shore along with North Vancouver School District and The BC Ministry of Education. It is a commitment by all these interested parties to improve academic achievement of Aboriginal Students.

December 3, 2012   No Comments

National Film Board

Web log #4

Entry 2


The National Film Board has an unbelievable treasure of resources to use in the classroom including a vast resource of aboriginal material.  You have to sign up for an account (free) but they have created teachers guides to go with their movies. Here is the link to the National Film Board and a link to one of the Teacher Guides, First Nations A Circle Unbroken.


December 3, 2012   No Comments

Canadian Council on Learning

Web log #4

Entry 1


The Canadian Council  on Learning has a variety of excellent resources. This Summary report, Naturalizing Indigenous Knowledge has been created by the Aboriginal Learning Knowledge Centre and is a rich resource for definition and clarification of Aboriginal Knowledge and Place-based Learning. It examines Aboriginal roots, social conditions, racism among a host of other topics.

December 3, 2012   No Comments

Final Post: Reflection on Connection to Research Topic

When I started out this research project, I searched long and hard for academic articles relating traditional ecological knowledge to the science curriculum. What I ended up finding was actually more hands-on materials to use in the classroom instead of only theoretical articles. I found full units online that can be used to integrate TEK into the science curriculum and that there are other nations who have been working on adding an indigenous perspective to the science curriculum already which could serve as good models to follow. Also, there are many articles out there about teaching strategies for teaching science to Indigenous students and being culturally sensitive to the fact that the Western scientific perspective is only one way of looking at science. My research focus shifted from finding a theoretical knowledge base of ideas to work with in implementing TEK into the curriculum to finding more of a “teaching tool kit” of materials, activities, units and strategies that can be used in the classroom.

December 3, 2012   No Comments

Weblog #4

Nearing the end of my research on integrating traditional ecological knowledge into the science curriculum, it became apparent that making connections with elders and sharing knowledge is pivotal in using TEK in the classroom. The following websites could help elders connect with students in a way that TEK can be passed down from generation to generation to all Canadian students.

International Workgroup for Indigenous Affairs
After discussing the influence of the media on indigenous communities, this website was pointed out to me. In further investigation, there is a section of environment and development that has vital information pertaining to land rights, poverty, climate change and sustainable development. There are news articles, written publications and important messages regarding environmental issues relevant to the Indigenous community. There is a news feed and many related links as well.

Indian Country Today Media Network
This media network serves to share information, news and events amongst members of the Native community online. They also advertise Pow Wows, gatherings, Sacred Sites and other events. They have news sections on the environment, education and a subsection for Canadian events only. A network like this in Canada could help students connect with elders who could share vital information about TEK and how to be a true steward of the Earth and show respect towards all living things around you.

The Vancouver Native Housing Society: Youth and Elder Connections
While the VNHS serves to provide housing as its main goal, they also have programs which enrich the lives of residences through cultural events and celebrations of heritage, arts and traditions. One of their programs is the Youth and Elder Connections “Bridging the Generations” program. In this community-based project, youth and elders are brought together through social and recreational activities, health- related workshops and mentorship. The program’s aim is to bridge the generational divide in a fun and educational way that helps to promote respect for self and others as well as Aboriginal cultures and traditions. These connections between youth and elders could involve the sharing of TEK, if specific activities were designed for this.

Peace for Turtle Island
Peace for Turtle Island provides culturally sensitive and accurate information about the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee – People of the Longhouse). They offer essays on many issues facing First Nations peoples, including the environment. Their page on cultural sensitivity is of interest because it speaks about how the internet may be spreading false information about the Iroquois peoples and their traditions. The author of the website designed this site as a way to educate others about the Iroquois from a first-person perspective. Their page on language, music and the arts is also very interesting and informative as well.

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick: Acadian Forest
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick published an article of traditional ecological knowledge. It explains in brief what TEK is all about and how it is an essential tool to be used in safeguarding the Acadian forest. They address the talking circle that took place on February 26, 2009, where the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, the Schoodic Band of the Passamaquoddy Nation of St. Andrew’s, the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Coalition on Sustainability and the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership (BoFep) hosted a talking circle on conservation and cooperation at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The outcome of this talking circle was that awareness was made about the concerns the indigenous peoples have in terms of conservation.
The second part of the project was to hold conversations with traditional forest knowledge keepers in parts of New Brunswick. The goal of each interview was to identify the challenges to the health of the Acadian forest and its species; how TEK could be used to ensure a healthy forest for future generations, and how traditional ecological knowledge can be protected.

December 3, 2012   No Comments