Course:FNIS454/Decolonizing the Technological

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FNIS 454
Indigenous New Media
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This open access resource is developed by the students of FNIS 454: Indigenous New Media. Via summary and analysis of key article, this wiki explores the theoretical, cultural, socio-political, and gendered dynamics underwriting the histories and futures of Indigenous new media as it develops out of the late 90s and into the present moment.
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Decolonizing the Technological: An Indigenous Perspective, by Aiyana Twigg

“Decolonizing the Technological” begins by explaining that, “Decolonizing methodologies are designed to cultivate Indigenous and, more precisely, tribally centered solutions to community challenges.[1] In order to understand Indigenous new media, and to decolonize technological spaces for Indigenous peoples, Indigenous history must be understood first. In order to honour the ongoing survival of Indigenous peoples, we have to understand the past, and how it has shaped the present, and the future. How settler colonialism has affected Indigenous peoples, and how that has influenced the approach to decolonization. To understand decolonization from an Indigenous perspective, Duarte explains that this not only includes questioning the racist, sexist, and oppressive colonial structures and logics, but it also requires moving beyond “anticolonial critique and includes building Indigenous programs and institutions that support self-determination and Self-governance.”[1] Additionally, decolonizing the technological from an Indigenous perspective includes unpacking the colonial assumptions that Indigenous people are not skilled in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, that Indigenous people are anti technological, and if Indigenous communities use digital technologies, that they are now participating in the colonization of their traditional practices.[1] Indigenous peoples have to assert their sovereignty and rights despite the settler’s intention to colonize.

The first step in approaching digital technologies for Indigenous communities is by following the communities needs and goals for using technologies, and working with the community to adhere to those needs. Subsequently, this connects to these communities affirming their sovereignty within digital spaces. According to Duarte, when she asked her community ways that they can approach technology, the members instead of discussing devices, information systems, or information as power, they discussed creating jobs for Indigenous youth, respecting and learning the stories from elders, and finding safe places for building towers for their people. Moreover, communities should clarify that digital technology is a great tool for the future generations to engage with traditional knowledge and teachings, but there is a limit that digital technology can provide. Indigenous youth should experience traditional teachings and practices in person, because digital tools can only teach so much. Digital tools do not account for youth being able to create relationships with elders and community members while learning traditional teachings, and they do not experience hands-on learning that has been a part of their culture since time immemorial.

To conclude, Duarte analyzes how digital spaces can be decolonized in an Indigenous perspective. Before one can decolonize digital spaces, Indigenous history must be understood first, and how settler colonialism has influenced the approach to decolonization. In order to honour Indigenous survivance, we must understand the past, and how it has shaped the present and future, and how Indigenous communities are using decolonization to assert their sovereignty in the realm of technological spaces. From an Indigenous perspective, decolonizing the technological includes Indigenous epistemology, cultural and traditional teachings, and asserting their sovereignty within these digital spaces. All while ensuring that Indigenous youth understand the limitations and benefits of teaching traditional knowledge in a digital space.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Duarte, Marisa (2017). Network Sovereignty: Building the Internet Across Indian COuntry. University of Washington Press.