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Aboriginal and Indigenous People’s Resistance, the Internet, and Education
JUDY M. ISEKE-BARNES
Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, 252 Bloor St, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1V6
ABSTRACT This article examines exchanges in an Internet newsgroup which is focused on issues pertaining to Aboriginal peoples. The examination of these exchanges highlights cyberspace as sites where colonial misunderstandings are evident and resistance to these dominant discourses is possible. Issues of pedagogy and Aboriginal peoples on the Internet are explored. Given that home and school use of the Internet is ever increasing, it is of growing importance for educators and academics to consider ways that cultural groups are represented in this context. Internet texts, just as texts, books, and media before them, produce cultural narratives in regard to Aboriginal peoples. How are cultures represented? Who controls these representations? This article provides examples of resistance to colonial discourses about Aboriginal peoples but cautions that there are risks with the increasing commercialisation of the Internet that dominant discourses might prevail.
Cyberspace … exists not so much as a discernable entity but as a ‘site’, in the most metaphorical sense, of cultural, social, and of course technological tension. This tension is productive … It has ushered in new ways of understanding agency, social interaction, and identity. (Crane, 2000, p. 88) Cyberspace and electronic media (news groups, list servs, computer conferences, bulletin boards, web pages) are sites for representations and explorations of identity, community, and culture. Electronic ‘conversations’ provide sites where people write to each other expressing opposing and more convergent viewpoints. In what discourses do cyberspace participants and producers/users engage? What images, counter-images, understandings, and refutations are taken up in these sites? In cyberspace, how are cultures represented? Who controls these representations? Is cyberspace an important cultural site for education? In the article, ‘streams of discussion’ are presented which are drawn from the news group alt.native under the subject lines ‘Why did I even bother to post to you all anyway I am not a wanna be …’ and ‘Sweatlodges for Non Natives?’ These accounts are shared to raise questions about cyberspace in the ongoing public and
ISSN 1361-3324 print; 1470-109X online/02/040171-28 Ó DOI: 10.1080/1361332022013961 7 2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd
J. M. Iseke Barnes
academic discourses surrounding key issues of Aboriginal identity, ownership, and cultural appropriation. For, as Giroux explains, we live in: a culture in which the production of electronic information radically alters traditional notions of time, community, and history while simultaneously blurring the distinction between reality and image. … in the age of instant information, global networking, and biogenetics the old distinction between high and popular culture collapses as the historically and socially constructed nature of meaning can no longer be privileged by universalizing claims to history, truth, or class. All culture is worthy of investigation, and no aspect of cultural production can escape its own history within socially constructed hierarchies of meaning. (1988, p. 163) This article examines sites in cyberspace, examining discussions of: (1) the Internet and Aboriginal peoples; (2) writing resistance; (3) questioning and resisting classi cations; (4) cultural appropriation and traditions; (5) spirituality and traditions; and (6) pedagogy, educational institutions and the Internet. The Internet and Aboriginal Peoples The increasing use of Internet communications such as bulletin boards, list servs, and chat rooms about and by indigenous peoples has the potential for impact on the lives of indigenous peoples. In Canada alone there are more than 10,000 websites focused on indigenous people (Department of Indian and Northern Development [DIAND], 1998), so cyberspace has the potential to play an important role in representing and perhaps containing indigenous people in Canada. In North America, NATIVENET and its later related list servs called NATIVE-L, NATCHAT, NAT-HLTH, and NAT-EDU were generated by Trujillo, which formed a basis for many other native discussion groups on the Internet (Zimmerman et al., 2000, p. 72). America OnLine (AOL) created a chat room called Blue Snake’s Lodge: ‘Blue Snake was an online “chief,” supposedly Eastern Shawnee, who devoted his time to teaching non-Indians Native American spirituality and healing’ (Zimmerman et al., 2000, p. 73). Blue Snake would ‘adopt’ chat room participants as members of a clan and tribe. Eventually, indigenous peoples learned of this room, entered it, challenged Blue Snake’s ‘teachings’ and disrupted the room to such an extent that some were thrown off AOL. To stop this appropriation and misrepresentation, the three Shawnee nations sent a resolution to AOL. Blue Snake confessed that he was not a tribal member and admitted that Shawnee ceremonies or those of other indigenous peoples that had been part of his pan-Indian approach were not for public consumption. As Martin (1995, p. 108) wrote in regard to this incident, ‘there’s an uncrossable line in both cyberspace and the real world, a line that separates tribal religious rites from the commerce of everyday life’. Where does cyberspace t in the ongoing public and academic discourse surrounding key issues of Aboriginal identity, ownership, and cultural appropriation? Todd (1996), a Cree woman and artist from Canada, emphasises that Aboriginal world views and life must nd a place in cyberspace if these spaces are to be
and control assume the capacity to represent indigenous peoples using these representations to serve the dominant at the expense of all others? Gerald Vizenor (1972. 1993. Tuhiwai Smith. 1992. Being an indian is a heavy burden to the oshki anishinabe because white people know more about the indian they invented than anyone. in cultural practices. 2000) has examined the process by which colonised peoples continue to be represented as ‘other’.. Vizenor. and genocide of Aboriginal people (Doxtator. Back & Solomos. never smiling. (1972. In the words of Deborah Doxtator. 1992). in making them [indigenous people] into pliant objects and silenced subjects of our [dominant] scripts and scenarios’ (Comaroff & Comaroff. misrepresentation. Ashcroft et al. Considerable and diverse theoretical work in post-colonial and anti-racist theories and cultural and indigenous studies (Said. 1988a. describes the term Indian as an invention. and interacting with “others” on terms not of their choosing. Gail Valaskakis (1993) describes ‘a discourse which constructs what outsiders—and Indians—know about native peoples in representations of Indianness: tribal and traditional. inscribing. control politics. One of Vizenor’s acts of resistance to this invention and dominant stereotype is his use of ‘indian’ rather than Indian and his use of ‘oshki anishinabe’ which is an Ojibway expression which roughly means ‘we the people of mother earth’ and either refers speci cally to the Ojibway people or to all indigenous peoples. and in institutional and social structures and the effects both on theoretical understandings of the world and on daily life. ‘People growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s were conditioned to believe that “Real Indianness” had something to do with not talking very much. pp.b. wearing fringed clothing. 1995). 1995. Hall.Aboriginal People on the Internet 173 bene cial to Aboriginal peoples. being poor. He explains that: The dominant society has created a homogenized history of tribal people for a television culture. 15)? Will cyberspace participants who have power. 1997. a mixed-blood Ojibway scholar. Mercredi & Turpel. p. North America’s Aboriginal peoples continue to be represented as ‘authentic’ voices in popular discourses and media (Goldie. p. 15– 16) Further to this discussion. White people are forever projecting their dreams of a perfect life through the invention of the indian—and then they expect an oshki anishinabe to not only ful ll an invention but to authenticate third-hand information about the tribal past. 159). particularly considering the impact of actions now for seven generations in the future. access. 1999. other and unequal. in literary and popular texts. Who will have access to create representations? How will peoples be represented and taken up by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples if only dominant images of subjugated subjects are presented? What groups will be excluded and represented in simplistic ways? What frames of reference will be used to interpret what is on the Internet? Will cyberspace participants engage in discourses by ‘conceptualizing. 1978. riding horses’ (Valaskakis. being mystical. North American Aboriginal literature also challenges dominance. . 1991. The experts and cultural hobbyists never miss a chance to authenticate the scraps of romantic history dropped by white travelers through indian country centuries ago.
it is an . to relinquish to history the nonessential accoutrements of the past. Blaeser examines Gerald Vizenor’s extensive work and characterises his: endeavors to salvage the truly timeless elements of the tribal. She identi es in Cherryl Smith’s (1994. 1989) through which peoples outside the centre of imperial power express their difference. Tuhiwai Smith. (Tuhiwai Smith. the original peoples. 1978].. language and literature are driven by money and politics. The oral arts and other forms of expression set our landscape in a different frame of reference. 1998. Stiffarm. racism and cultural imperialism do not occur only in society. They suggest that ‘locked into the process of appropriation through which Indigenous groups write is an alternative metaphysic. 1988b. p. This writing back and writing to ourselves: is not simply an inversion of how we have learned to write academically. Valaskaskis. which has proved a powerful creative stimulant’ (p. and to teach the ways of survival in the new Indian wars–those media-driven. is keenly dependent on identity. Ashcroft et al. identity is formed through language and literature. M. 13) arguments that ‘colonialism. Deloria. ‘back chat’ or ‘answer back’ in their writing. as well as a political rage. 1998. The different audiences to whom we speak makes the task somewhat dif cult. 2000). The scope of the literature which we use in our work contributes to a different framing of the issues. Even the use of pronouns such as ‘I’ and ‘we’ can cause dif culties when writing for several audiences. 1999. 1996. p. outside of the gates of universities’. true speaking is not solely an expression of creative power. 145). (1996. from these regions. Our understandings of the academic disciplines within which we have been trained also frame our approaches. signal that settler society has taken up this writing of difference in colonies while suppressing indigenous writers.174 J. 38–39) Tuhiwai Smith (1999) suggests that African-American women and Maori women ‘talk back’. Gunn Allen. One form of resistance is ‘writing back’ (Ashcroft et al. 37) bell hooks describes resistance writing and speaking amongst women of color: For us. Churchill. Graveline. 1993. because while it may be acceptable now in academic writing. … With his own writing he has also entered into the midst of the con ict. Maracle. Battiste. 1999). Survival. in Vizenor’s view. 1998. 1999. pp. it is not always acceptable to indigenous audiences. intellectual and verbal skirmishes he calls the ‘cultural word wars’. Iseke Barnes 1993. All of these literatures aid in theorising Internet texts which involve peoples from around the world. Writing Resistance Resistance to misrepresentation is a common practice amongst world indigenous peoples facing stereotype and bias (Doxtator. … In his depictions of what he calls the ‘Cultural Word Wars between Whites and Indians in the New Fur Trade’ [Vizenor. 1998.
expectations. list servs and computer conferences which focus on native. Aboriginal teachers’ negotiation of con icting and ambiguous role assumptions.Aboriginal People on the Internet act of resistance. annihilated. These accounts help us understand cyberspace as sites of knowledge production where dominant discourses and resistance texts by Aboriginal peoples are evident. Methodology This article is based on a larger research programme involving a series of six studies which focus on discursive contexts of Internet conversations and websites about and amongst Aboriginal peoples focusing on issues of identity. 144) explains. free of the humour and joy that punctuated the struggle for being which this book represents. a mixed-race Native woman from western Canada. to name and identify appropriation. on the other. chains which were welded to me by a history neither I nor my ancestors created. 8) 175 Lee Maracle. Conver- . a political gesture that challenges politics of domination that would render us nameless and voiceless. a whole new set of cultural practices emerge’. community. To those who wield oppressive power. removing them is both painful and humbling. (1996. Bondage is paralyzing and removing chains is painful. silenced. raise oppositional consciousness. take political action. and pedagogy. it represents a threat. This article is situated within this larger research programme as an introductory examination of identity issues and resistance writing in public conversations on the Internet. First Nations voices on the Internet. I am Woman. They also examine collaborative Internet use by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal educators. was: To release me from the chains with which I bound myself. When the chains are bound to you by internal attitudes and beliefs created by external world conditions. a whole set of new theoretical discourses intersect and where. and obligations on the Internet. on the one hand. culture and pedagogy. p. (1988. As Hall (2000. culture. community. VIII) These texts suggest that resistance writing enables indigenous peoples to express difference. describes the intention of writing her book. p. Two of these studies examine pedagogical issues in uses of the Internet in educational settings by non-indigenous student teachers. This article draws data from a study which examines news groups. that which is threatening must necessarily be wiped out. Indian or Aboriginal people. challenge domination. The Internet texts shared in this article are not taken as merely individualise d accounts but rather as re ections of cultural narratives of and about Aboriginal peoples. p. This resistance is tied to emotion and to identity. ‘I talk about identity here as a point at which. it is a courageous act—as such. and free us from bondage we hold internally created by an external world. engage in cultural word wars. As such. teachers and their students as it is related to indigenous peoples. The text is an emotional one. and Aboriginal educators’ issues of identity.
Themes and storylines were analysed and included Aboriginal knowledge. teaching an Aboriginal language.native. learning of Aboriginal languages. and education and provide insight into the functioning of these public news groups in raising important questions about pedagogy. Excerpts were extracted from the alt. Ipperwash land occupation). The methodology for data collection from news groups was rst to identify news groups (which are public messages available through a central server and accessible by a large number of users of the Internet) about native or Aboriginal peoples. traditions. as well as issues more speci c to particular Aboriginal groups (eg. as a default. in the Ojibway language Anishinabe) is not possible here as participants do not use these terms.g. Many of these conversations took place over an extended period and included multiple participants. and extended discussions which could be traced for a period of time. Native. inclusiveness. This site was selected as it had a wide variety of topics. M. language issues (eg. and identity as well as translation of identity in teaching. language. in talking about rst peoples from North . Shamanism). land control and autonomy. The data in news groups and list servs are ‘streams of discussion’ which were downloaded and organised. selfgovernment. active discussions. and provided examples of resistance writing. Aboriginal traditions and ceremonies (eg. and work. land claims). and changing roles and expectations.176 J. indigenous and non-Aboriginal spirituality (eg. The author. media. questions about authenticity). Northern experiences and communities. particularly in regard to Aboriginal people. political and constitutional issues (eg. highlighted educational and curricular issues. Participants in the alt. These terms collect together diverse peoples under a single expression thus denying differences which have arisen through political histories connected to colonialism and essentialising practices.native news group under the subject lines ‘Why did I even bother to post to you all anyway I am not a wanna be …’ and ‘Sweatlodges for Non Natives?’ These excerpts were selected because they examined identity issues. pedagogy. The preferred practice of referring to indigenous persons from North America by the speci c term used by the people to describe themselves (e. English as a second language). Iseke Barnes sations were collected from eight public sites (sites were selected that were widely available as they were deemed to be most likely to be accessed by large numbers of Internet participants and therefore have the potential for broad impact) over a six-month period in 1995–96.native group use various terms which are re ected in their texts. Aboriginal and Indigenous are often used interchangeably by participants in cyberspace. tradition. curriculum control. Terminology The terms Indian. Brief excerpts are extracted from ‘streams of discussion’ from the news group alt. sweat lodges). The excerpts focus on issues of authenticity. culture. By analysing the discussions within this news group it was possible to determine the following themes and storylines: identity issues (eg. First Nations. First Peoples.
some of whom sympathise [sic] with your plight. 1989. Of course the third part is the (mostly) silent majority. Bill uses a discussion of others to locate himself as a member of the sympathetic majority. 217). The term indigenous here is used to refer to indigenous peoples from around the world. and punctuation are retained from the original although I have added emphasis (text in italic) to aid in discussion of the text. Grif ths. engages in a discussion of ‘Essential difference [which] allows those who rely on it to rest reassuringly on its gamut of xed notions. who want to ‘learn more about your wonderful. dominant non-native. (I have asked myself at times whether a super cial knowledge of the other. some notion of suffering. Any mutation in identity. There are the ‘wanna be’s’ who have almost no indian in them. in regularity … poses a problem.Native News Group A post presented to the Alt. (b) anyone who wants to understand more about their experience is a ‘wannabe’. 1994) based on tribal inclusion. how are you to locate yourself’ (Minh-ha. whether included or excluded by governmental de nitions of indianness. denying that many Aboriginal peoples. Let me be blunt about the people in this group. which are de ned by government as mixed-race Aboriginal peoples) and the diversity of participants. This is an actual excerpt so lines and spacing. (2) mixed race (but non-native). Introducing the Alt. is not a way of preserving a super cial image of oneself. in terms of classi cation and control. In this text Bill. spelling. earth-loving culture because of my guilt for what my white ancestors did to your people’. in essence. xing diverse peoples into a classi cation system with three categories: (1) native. One’s sense of self is always mediated by the image one has of the other. and (c) anyone who claims any indian blood in them whatsoever should simply ignore that indian blood and walk away. and (3) non-native.) (Crapanzano. i. p. in terms of some stereotype. p. If you can’t locate the other. Further.e. The second type of people in this newsgroup are the self-centered Indian types who think (a) their own tribal sufferings is the alpha and omega of the Indian experience. 54) . 1995.Native news group as part of the ongoing dialogue examines who is participating in this group.Aboriginal People on the Internet 177 America uses Aboriginal. These reductions of the complexity and diversity of participants denies the diversity of hundreds of Aboriginal groups in North America (including the Metis Nations in Canada. are mixed race. these texts engage in an authenticity discourse (Minh-ha. Bill engages in a process here in which he essentialises difference in the production of the ‘other’. and blood quantum. 1985. These reductions also x nativeness as a particular ‘Indian type’. if not a threat.
The situation means that those de ned as status Indians in Canada are sometimes descendants of both native and non-native peoples. Did they stop being ‘Indian’? Some of these women are now being reinstated under Bill C-31 after women used legal means to challenge the sexist structure of the Indian Act. questioned the distinct classi cation of Aboriginal peoples in an example of resistance to discourses which classify and separate. etc. blacks colored. p. 1994. 1876). and wear a medicine bag that was given to me in love by another Cherokee woman. 1995..native news group. So—what kind of advice do you have for those of us who are mixed blood? I’ve never been to a sweat because I have felt in my heart that I should not do that. Questioning and Resisting Classi cations In reference to Bill’s text consider Minh-ha (1995. there are bands who are negotiating their land claims. 1999.178 J. M. as these land claims proceed. but my spiritual side is Christian … Gail :) Mixed-race Aboriginal people often face exclusions from Aboriginal circles because . one consequence of which may be to lose status or to change status. and a teardrop corn necklace that was given to me by one of the elders from OK a year ago. but what of 1 those like me. 217). who asks. ‘what about those with hyphenated identities and hybrid realities?’ She questions the dividing line between outsiders and insiders and challenges us to reconsider de nitions. Stevenson. [And] The Indian Act still makes distinctions between “Indian” and “person” ’ (Mercredi & Turpel. ‘Indian’ women who married ‘white’ men were stripped of their status in Canada. In Canada ‘there are seventeen different classi cations of Indians. Currently. Classi cations could be changed if one could prove incorrect categorisation. 24). As a result. Minh-ha (1991) describes a parallel example in which South Africans were racially categorised into nine groups. 1993. Iseke Barnes Bill is also caught in the us/them phenomenon (as evident in the italic text) all too common in discussions of culture (hooks. Excerpts from the Indian Act. 1997). which was used to exclude native women who married non-native men but maintained native men who married non-native women and included non-native women who married native men and their descendants (Lawrence. In Canada. Given that women are now being reinstated to Indian status by federal government. some whites became colored. Ng et al. Gail suggests that being mixed blood is a reality for indigenous people: What you say is honorable for those who have pure blood. What are the dividing lines? Who is inside/outside of these lines? But classi cation systems of indigenous peoples abound at many levels throughout the world. are these women resuming ‘Indian-ness’? Gail. and the other half is all kinds of stuff—but mostly Danish. 1999. p. are these ‘Indians’ becoming ‘white’? In the past. a respondent to the alt. I do belong to a group that puts on a pow wow every Labor Day weekend (didn’t make it up there this year). Ng. who have more than one race in their blood? I’m 2 Cherokee (raised to believe I was dark Irish). coloreds white.
Bill includes in ‘wanna be’ people who have been classi ed by governments to be non-native (usually based on gender bias in the Indian Act—see Lawrence. experiences. 234). depending on who is speaking. I don’t know how we ever thought we were individuals of widely varying backgrounds. p. assholes). Stevenson. the usual de nition of wannabe is people who have no historic claim to be native but who begin claiming to be native (sometimes referred to as ‘new-age indians’). 1988b. The tight control of who can call themselves Indian is maintained through the Indian Act in Canada and through blood quantum in the USA (Merskin. 1995). Francis. or by rejecting the Other by assuming that the country began with the arrival of whites (Goldie. Lawrence. So the Canadian must be alien. 1999) but who maintain that they are native through acts of . Goldie (1995. But how can the Canadian be alien within Canada?’ Attempts at resolving this conundrum include incorporation of the Other into mainstream culture in super cial ways ‘through beaded moccasins and names like Mohawk Motors’ (p. creating a boys’ club whose structure in uenced the creation of the scouting movement by Lord Baden Powell.g. Quite a feat. according to your own opinion (which is apparently shaped by your experience with ‘no less than 5 assholes’ who you feel amed you). Resistance writing is evident in further excerpts in which there were many written challenges to Bill’s attempt to classify the group. 1996. He was of Italian descent with no connection to Canadian indigenous peoples (Doxtator. Many of those excluded have been women in the past. 1998. The most prominent current example in uenced by a recent feature lm is that of Grey Owl. and opinions before you arrived here. 1995. who questioned whether the location of the subject and subject identities could be classi ed or characterised on ethnic grounds. He also questioned Bill and his self-assigned role as classi er: I’m glad your [sic] able to subdivide everyone in this group and label them so nicely (e. They are handled by Bill as if they are wannabes. 1992). The perspective of ‘otherness’ changes. 234) describes a paradoxical situation in which ‘The white Canadian looks at the Indian. Sollors (1986) suggests that a prevalent practice is to de ne ethnicity as otherness. But the Indian is indigenous and therefore cannot be alien. Who is inside/outside? Mixed-race people disrupt easy classi cations. Contrary to Bill’s usage. 1999. 1999). Carter. MinhHa. in more sophisticated ways through literature which replicates and represents (Mudrooroo.Aboriginal People on the Internet 179 they cannot claim status or treaty rights. One of them came from Dave. The Indian is Other and therefore alien. Maybe as we post you can let us know which group each of us belongs to in your sage judgment. The tight control of identity that Aboriginal people have experienced along with the inability to control their own group membership have created divisions amongst indigenous peoples—a divisiveness re ected in these Internet conversations. 1989). who billed himself as a Canadian Indian.
McIvor. versus copying as attery. but I do have some natural objects (my bear claw. . etc. . . presumably referring to blood quantum. . . 1997. I am more grateful (and impressed) when I see a non native Brother or Sister who does not presume to wear hawk feathers or Eagle or join in MIXED (sheesh) or unmixed sweats or even go around jabbering in LakotaDakota u Nakota.180 J. I am aware other Peoples use variations of the Sweat but I am talking about Native Sweats here. Cultural Appropriation. J Twoshadows’s text appears rst. and Spirituality ‘Wannabe’ discourses continue in the conversation but later are taken up from an Aboriginal perspective in which questions are asked about acts of cultural appropriation of traditions and concerns about who is appropriate to share in traditions. 1999). . but remember that copying IS a form of attery. You can’t legislate what other people do. I think faddism is silly in general. Iseke Barnes self-determinism (Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The Wompiis have stolen our land and our country. Personally if I were non native and if I were You can only control who participates in your own rituals.g. There seem to be too many non native people partaking and even performing our ancient practices.) which mean a lot to me and my spirituality. at the beginning of each line) . . Why is it all these White People go around I don’t wear any jewelry. It seems as if the nuagers. The Sacred Stone Lodge. interested in the culture I would show my respect by REFRAINING from satisfying my own desires and leave the First Peoples sacred traditions to themselves. wannabes and assorted faddists have truly set about trying to trivialize one of our most sacred and bel. e. Bill does not distinguish mixed-race Aboriginal people from non-natives posing as Aboriginal peoples but instead chastised mixed-race people as having little ‘Indian in them’. . but who are you to presume that what I feel is not right? . .. let us consider what cultural traditions might mean to Aboriginal peoples. . Self-determination apparently is not on Bill’s agenda as self-appointed classi er. . . I just don’t care to. M. followed by Jack’s response interspersed in J Twoshadows’s text (which appears with . feathers. impersonating our Western Cousins so unmercifally. now they want our Culture too. In further examining issues of cultural appropriation of traditions.oved [sic] traditions. Traditions. . I don’t subscribe to any particular sect of beliefs.
1995. there is no Indian world.. may be a form of attery for some but native peoples have endured centuries of assimilationist policies and countless acts of cultural appropriation under colonial governments and practices (Crosby 1991. 22) It is this sense of allowing traditions to preserve us and to recognise that traditions change and take new forms in today’s societies that might be characterised in some discussions as native essentialism but here is characterised by Hampton as spirituality. with very negative effects upon Aboriginal peoples who should be able to control who participates in Aboriginal spiritual practices and must . there is no modern world. This practice was common in the past amongst Aboriginal peoples in Canada and the USA and continues today at cultural events like powwows. (Hampton. J Twoshadows’s text is an act of resistance to discourses which continue the colonialist practices of appropriation. most groups engage in some form of cultural appropriation/sharing (Tator et al. 1998). There is only the Great Spirit’s world and the same Creator who made the beautiful forests traces the cracks in the sidewalks and puts rainbows in the oil slicks on city streets’. In the mail room at work I picked up the new issue of Accession Notes and noticed an article by Gael High Pine. 22). Jack draws upon a discourse in which he positions native resistance as about legislation and control and then suggests that it is a personal set of feelings. Deloria. ‘The Great Spirit in the Modern World’ (1973). tiny jewelled caverns with rainbow colours on their walls. In this example. p. Copying. and practices in regard to another set. it is important to allow our traditions to preserve us. There frozen into the snow was a ve dollar bill. This can be a positive sharing of understandings amongst groups and thus have positive effects on both groups. J Twoshadows’s text is not about sharing but rather about cultural appropriation where power differentials between dominant and subordinate groups are evident. Her rst paragraph gripped my heart. a member of the Chickasaw Nation. he trudged through grimy. which should guide action. and continued up the hill. not a cultural group. I chipped it out.’ And then the nal paragraph … ‘My children. a part of life not commonly discussed in academic discussions. describes on the day after engaging in a sweat lodge ceremony some of the understandings of life he is able to vision and value through this ceremonial wisdom. Jack’s response questions J Twoshadows’s perspective. I began to smile at myself— nding rainbows in the car shit—and then I laughed out loud. norms. Given that there are no clear limits on one set of cultural values. folded it into my shirt pocket. as Jack suggests. 1998). ‘It is not important to preserve our traditions. p. But sharing is between groups in relationship where power differentials are not evident. the process of cultural appropriation of Native sweats helps to establish cultural hegemony. On this early spring day. I saw that the particles of dirt and soot had gathered the sun’s warmth and melted tiny caverns into the snow bank.Aboriginal People on the Internet 181 Eber Hampton (1995. dirty snow banks and noticed for the rst time that ‘the sunlight seemed to meet its own re ection inside me’ and noticed also as he kicked through the dirty snow with childish joy that: Looking with new eyes. Francis 1992.
Some of the native warriors were described as ‘banshees’. There are. 159) This account emphasises both the problem of cultural appropriation and acts of passive resistance by native people to these acts. worn by a real Indian?’ (1993. Just before the police ushered us out. We circled the entrance. History. Valaskakis provides an example of resistance to negative appropriations of indigenous cultural artefacts: In the resurgent Indianness of the mid-1970s. . some common beliefs. It may also occur because what one cultural group has come to know as ‘their own’ knowledge may well have been shared with or extended from another group’s knowledge. Even the teachings of Aboriginal groups share in this practice. Someone carried a sign saying ‘How many beaver pelts for the Mona Lisa?’ We watched as people bid: a pair of Blackfoot burial moccasins. and Hegemony Jack. Canada by Ojibway people have roots in Plains Cree traditions from Alberta and Saskatchewan. A good Irish word. in continuing his discussion of J Twoshadows’s texts. J Twoshadows points out that sharing in sweats is an appropriation that can have negative outcomes for First Peoples. 1999). and a piece of par esh. There is a need for respect for the ceremonies and their meaningfulness to cultural groups. This may occur because they share experiences of oppression through colonialism (Tuhiwai Smith. for example. then stood silently in the ballroom. the Medicine Wheel teachings which are commonly taught in Ontario. I remember being among a group of Indians who protested an auction of native artifacts at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal. The power differential characteristic of appropriations are not evident here. Iseke Barnes be able to question members of dominant groups who access materials which are not shared but stolen from a dominated group. Get the point? Different cultural groups may share common beliefs. held it high and said. a child’s doll. He shares statements of resistance to this negative cultural appropriation through this cyberspace text. raises questions about history and culture: What if our historic paths cross? Some traditional Celtic music sounds a lot like Native American music. M. Appropriation. The performing of Native sweats by non-natives can reduce these meaningful ceremonies to a repetition of actions without meaningfulness. This respecting of traditions and recognition of shared histories ensures that these traditions continue to be a part of the life of cultural groups. a Cree from Mistassini named Morley Loon slipped off one of his workboots. p. But it is important to recognise that the shared knowledges are not a part of the process of establishing hegemony because these are sharings which bene t both groups that are in a relationship. a ceremonial dress. ‘How much will you pay for this Indian boot. no doubt.182 J.
forgotten. In this sense history is not important for indigenous peoples because a thousand accounts of the ‘truth’ will not alter the ‘fact’ that indigenous peoples are still marginal and do not possess the power to transform history into justice. This is evident in Bill’s text. Tuhiwai Smith emphasises the importance of alternative histories told by indigenous peoples in decolonisation and as acts of resistance: Coming to know the past has been part of the critical pedagogy of decolonization. or erased through the actions of appropriation. and then how they use their power to keep them in positions in which they can continue to dominate others. based on Gramsci. 34) In the Internet texts. Part of this colonial practice is to degrade Aboriginal traditions. (p. These can be contrasted with those who engage in ongoing dialogue in bearing witness to history. (1999. There is in addition the hegemony of European ideas about the Orient. In fact history is mostly about power. marginalized and ‘Othered’. History is also about power. Minh-ha (1989) describes tactics of colonialism which act to preserve cultural forms but destroy the content of those forms. It is because of relationship with power that we have been excluded. i. p. and indeed it can be argued that the major component in European culture is precisely what made that culture hegemonic both in and outside Europe: the idea of European identity as a superior one in comparison with all the non-European peoples and cultures. that understanding history will enlighten our decisions about the future. Linda Tuhiwai Smith writes about the suppressions of indigenous peoples through accounts of history: We believe that History is also about justice. Wrong. Transforming . or rather the result of cultural hegemony at work. a collective notion identifying ‘us’ Europeans as against all ‘those’ non-Europeans. The pedagogical implication of this access to alternative knowledges is that they can form the basis of alternative ways of doing things. It is the story of the powerful and how they became powerful.Aboriginal People on the Internet 183 Said (1978).e. themselves reiterating European superiority over Oriental backwardness. dream-catchers are now commonplace as street vendors and New Age shops ‘cash in’ on this important cultural form but in these uses their meanings in culture and history are simpli ed. 7) Hegemonic discourses about Aboriginal peoples parallel those of Orientalism. the discussion of faddism may well be persons cashing in and engaging in the repetition of that which is removed from the people without locating themselves or these practices in dialogue with history and culture. provides an example of the production of hegemonic discourses in his discussion of Orientalism: It is hegemony. usually overriding the possibility that a more independent thinker … may have had different views on the matter. that gives Orientalism its durability and its strength … Orientalism is never far from … the idea of Europe. To hold alternative histories is to hold alternative knowledges. ensuring that Aboriginal peoples are maintained as inferior to dominant society.
Lee/Ottawa said: . . pp. rather than as private contemplation. Taking up spiritual beliefs as public performance of actions. 34–35) Spirituality and Traditions: customs or acts of remembrance? J Twoshadows. But it is his emphasis that the spiritual practices of native people are not public but private matters which moves the discussion in a new direction. He does not specify by whom. . and see the adoption of aspects of native culture as the way to not only guarantee the survival of the good ways.184 J. Lee/Ottawa continued: . requires us to revisit. Lee’s statements do not consider that power is in the hands of dominant groups and not Aboriginal peoples. He sees this adoption as tied to survival. Indian People make up less than 1% of the total population. presumably by native people. also so that the whole earth can bene t from the healing and improved lives of many people. This could be an assumption of sharing of culture and the bene ts of improved lives for ‘many people’ but does not include all peoples. James Eagle Bull and David is presented in sections. our history under Western eyes. And yet. giving testimony to the injustices of the past are all strategies which are commonly employed by indigenous peoples struggling for justice. Iseke Barnes our colonized views of our own history (as written by the West). On the international scene it is extremely rare and unusual when indigenous accounts are accepted and acknowledged as valid interpretations of what has taken place. the need to tell our stories remains the powerful imperative of a powerful form of resistance. There is no way that a large portion of the remaining 99% can show up at our doorsteps without us (and our beliefs) being changed—and changed a great deal—by the experience. who recognises in the power dynamics that sharing is impossible given that Aboriginal peoples are a small group as compared to the majority group. … Telling our stories from the past. Lee’s position emphasises adoption of native culture. (1999. Another problem is that in the USA. I take a slightly different view. A dialogue between Lee/Ottawa. is characterised as disrespectful. not unlike Bill. Respecting your position. This in turn requires a theory or approach which helps us to engage with. understand and then act upon history. characterising non-natives as ‘White People’ and ‘Wompiis’. . James Eagle Bull replied: One problem with this is that you are making us responsible for your actions as well as telling many of us that our beliefs are wrong—at the same time you say you want to guarantee the survival of those beliefs. uses a native/non-native distinction in his text. This emphasis is challenged by James Eagle Bull. however. The question remains as to who bene ts and who does not. reclaiming the past. site by site. M.
she served the ham and asked her grandmother why she always cut the heel off the ham. it would be good if there were some ‘education institution’ where all people could go as students to learn what the native people do want to teach. they opt for the latter—so much easier to acquire. what they have to teach can be both worthless and dangerous—but it is quick and easy. At the family gathering later that day. by and large. they would not want others’. p. She cut the heel off the ham and put it in the fridge to be cooked later and then put the remainder of the ham in the pan and in the oven. David responded to James Eagle Bull: And not knowing a spiritual belief from a component of a ritual. Her grandmother explained that she only had a small baking pan and that . … the person of custom does not re ect upon his condition.Aboriginal People on the Internet . habitual. As a further illustration of this notion of custom or ritual. 15) description of a person of custom: the behavior of the person of custom is. Of course. But this take[s] a long time to do—and requires a great deal of effort. and how to show respect for the things that ought to be respected as well. Note here that knowledge of indigenous people must be learned in relationship with the people as re ected in history and culture of the people. … If the customary society is. . consider a story from Claudine van Avery. The other way is to turn to some of the plastics who provide instant acceptance and validation [sic] and are happy to provide a quick and easy way to learn what they have to teach. Dave distinguishes knowledge of spiritual beliefs from components of a ritual. a uid order always in the process of adaptation. This discussion of ritual is similar to Smith’s (1985. When she was asked why she did this. 185 (Note: the idea of an educational institution is taken up in a later section.) James Eagle Bull replied: There already is a way to learn these things—well—two ways actually. in reality. and not try to separate the spiritual aspects (which cannot be separated anyway). In my view. One is to go to The People and learn the history and culture. she said her grandmother always did it that way so she did too. not imaginary fabrications of the people created by dominant society. . . g . and you don’t have to fool around with all that pesky history and culture—nor with those disagreeable Indian People who keep saying NO . who described a friend of hers preparing a ham to be put in the oven. a Mohawk educator at Brock University. If they had their own. … It is almost a de nition of custom that its beginnings are lost. its continuity and incrementalism give rise to perceptions of changelessness and of the simple repetition of familiar motions. .
It is a vision of optimism rooted in the need to bear witness to history. it is necessary to learn the history and culture of The People along with it—and to be accepted by The People rst—and spend a lot and [sic] time and effort doing so. doorsteps without us (and our beliefs) being changed—and changed a great deal—by . certainly not. But there is a difference between the change that occurs naturally with time. . to reclaim that which must not be forgotten. Iseke Barnes the ham always had to be cut in order to t in the pan. M. as a group. . which Giroux characterises as: an ongoing dialogue between past. It is a vision of public life which calls for an ongoing interrogation of the past that allows different groups to locate themselves in history while simultaneously struggling to make it. . Yes.186 J. . and not try to separate the spiritual aspects (which cannot be separated anyway). again. present. p. (1988. What I am saying that most are not seeing is that if you want to learn spiritualality [sic] from The People. will you remain unchanged? No. Things change all the time. These are contrasted with those who ‘go to The People and learn the history and culture. . . the discussion of the ‘plastics’ who provide ‘a quick and easy way to learn what they have to teach’ are persons of custom—engaging in the repetition of the familiar without locating themselves or these practices in dialogue with the past. Any other way is bogus. Another Internet respondent picked up on a previous message (indicated by . Again. The history of this custom/ritual had been lost while the custom/ritual remained. 172) In James Eagle Bull’s text. because engaging in ongoing dialogue in bearing witness to history is not possible in institutions where Aboriginal peoples are suppressed. But this takes a long time to do—and requires a great deal of effort’. There is no way that a large portion of the remaining 99% can show up at our . The maintaining of customs/rituals can be contrasted with acts of remembrance. and future of a cultural group nor in bearing witness to the history and culture of Aboriginal peoples. and the changes that come from assimulation [sic]. and future. . the experience. . my point is that there is no way that a group as small as we are can assimulate [sic] a group as large as the non-Indians are—we would be destroyed by that. Indian People as a group have resisted assimulation [sic] for over 500 years now—and. present. as Lee suggests. ) and replied to the idea of remaining unchanged. but if you don’t teach them. will continue to resist it. For this reason one cannot go to an educational institution.
There are hundreds of Nations of People. Money. Crosby. There is a lot of education done there. Churchill. NA [Native] traders. Valaskakis (1993). and not part of [the culture]. Gail responded: That’s what pow wows are for. NA book dealers. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples Report (1997) or RCAP. despite the fact you may become a friend. and spiritual beliefs. culture. 1991. Of course. If that wasn’t your intent and [you] didn’t want a friend. Powwows are suggested as a place where that can happen while again it is emphasised that this relationship is important. But this approach is rejected because all information has a source and was produced in context. and the conditioning and assumptions made about Indians. dominant notions of education often treat educational practice as being about disseminating information disconnected from its source—information no longer connected to the people who produced it.) And be aware that many will NOT feel like sharing beliefs. … The only suitable ‘education institution’ is individuals and their friendship. 1999) and appropriation and reductions of knowledge which is ‘bogus’.Aboriginal People on the Internet And my reference to THE PEOPLE is not a reference to the generic Hollywierd version. This discussion again emphasises that education is in relationship with indigenous peoples. by the story tellers. each with their own history. It becomes information about. 1992). Educational Institutions and Issues for Indigenous Peoples Lee’s introduction of the idea of educational institutions was taken up by participants who questioned education and its connection to culture and history. You cannot do that and have it mean the same thing. then you probably aren’t suitable to share the beliefs with. 187 Vizenor (1972. If they decide to share their beliefs with you. is a $58 million document commissioned by the Canadian Government to survey Aboriginal peoples and to make recommendations for future directions and policy in Canada . 1997. (That’s a gurative you—I wasn’t being accusatory. 1988b. the ‘othering’ of Native people. NA music dealers. otherwise it is just information. It removes the teaching from the culture. and Doxtator (1988a) warn of the invention of the mythical Indian. They have that right. If not. they will. dancers who also speak. 1997. This Internet text expresses similar concerns about the tendency to reductions of Aboriginal peoples to ‘Hollyweird Indians’—the mythic productions of Aboriginal people in Hollywood lms (Doxtator. you still have a friend. Dennis suggested in regard to Lee’s suggestion of an educational institution: That’s an honorable if unpopular suggestion. Arnold. historian[s] who set up either at the gate or in the center.
After nearly a century of public schooling for Indigenous peoples in Canada for example. Amongst the large number of recommendations is the intention to create new educational institutions and to change existing ones into Aboriginal institutions in early childhood. did decide that his people were meant to share their traditions with people not from the tribe. then it is not a question I should expect an answer to [and I should expect that the questionee might be quite offended]. the most serious problem with the current system of education lies not in its failure to liberate the human potential among Indigenous peoples but rather in its quest to limit their thought to cognitive imperialistic practices. M. The intention is to create possibilities for language. culture and history to be sustained in educational institutions. Smith. we continue what Battiste and Henderson (2000) describe as the function of schooling which organises knowledge to maintain and promote dominant science and the suppression of indigenous knowledge and peoples: Eurocentric public schooling for Indigenous peoples has not been benign (Memmi. G. If I am not intimate enough to know. Possibly people raised in the Christian tradition do not realize that not everyone wants to convert others. Milloy. I try to be polite. post-secondary. (2000. It has been used as a means to perpetuate damaging myths about Indigenous knowledge and heritage. 1963. Creation of an electronic clearing house is also a recommendation. constrains the use and development of Indigenous knowledge and heritage in schools. He was . who was a medicine man. Otherwise. I tried to explain to one person that it was like me asking them what kind of underwear they are wearing. It has also established Eurocentric science as the dominant mode of thought. and adult education. secondary. there is a strong commitment to action in regard to educational institutions but also a strong message that Aboriginal peoples need to be in control of these institutions. p.188 J. and ways of life. elementary. Freire. beliefs. languages. 1973. chapter 5) that there are many ways to learn. and con nes education to a narrow positivistic scienti c view of the world that threatens the global future. 1999). Governmental support and development of Aboriginal controlled institutions is required. 1997. Iseke Barnes which outlines in its education chapter (volume 3. 86) Sharing Indigenous Knowledges Wilder responded to Dennis’s comments on the removal of teaching from the culture and the creation of information about the culture rather than being a part of it: I have had people ask me speci c questions about my religious traditions and I also feel that they are just looking for some details to experiment with. a mode of thought that distrusts diversity and jeopardizes us all as we move into the next century. but it is rather awkward. A friend’s grandfather. In this document. This quest denies Indigenous people access to and participation in the formulation of educational policy.
regardless of the heart or the intent would seem to me to dishonor our [sic] the Ancient Ones and ourselves. How do you expect that to happen if you will not share the knowledge? In excerpts from Dave’s text. We have no right to say this. The Elders taught me that it is not Our culture to keep. RedWoman wrote: I have to disagree. and had good reasons for believing that this was necessary. … The gifts of the Creator are all around for everyone to share. regardless of whether or not the person seeking to obtain it from you is ready for it? Do your elders support that as well? It could be. Bill’s classi cations provide an example of that which is undesirable. spiritual beliefs. thus avoiding the reductionist and voyeuristic possibilities and negative impact of appropriations which construct Aboriginal peoples as engaged in frozen and unchanging traditions. individually or by National or Tribal decision should consider ‘teaching’ our Ways. Our whole belief system is based on love. it is the Creator’s. it is a gift they give me. am concerned with trying to teach them without teaching the culture and history behind them. I was taught. However. To open our beliefs up to whomever. and cultural understandings abound. and it is right for each band to decide how they feel about this issue with regards to their own sacred knowledge. that when someone shares something important with me. too. 189 What can/should be shared and with whom? Concern amongst participants of the oversimpli cation of traditions. there is a questioning of the sharing of cultural knowledge: Do you share this knowledge indiscriminately. In acts of remembrance cultural groups are viewed as continually active in cultural practices which are ever developing. To take the practice without the meaning seems a sacrilege.Aboriginal People on the Internet a very wise man. and believe. it is not up to you or me or anybody to decide this. They know I am ready to receive it and they know I appreciate it and treat it with respect. I also think that the heart of the ‘student’ is an important aspect of the decision. Kurihato suggested: I agree that our People. as we’ve been . I. Or do I treat that gift as if it is nothing and throw it to the wind and everyone who may catch it there? That does not show respect for the gift or those who have been kind enough to share it with me. How can this be avoided? These participants suggest the engaging in seeking. The only way to get rid of hatred of our people and all people is through education. respect and sharing and here you are saying ‘they’ have no right to it. not of repetition of customs but the active pursuit of remembrances. but I would be surprised if their answer would be ‘yes’.
Doesn’t that make it even more curious that they feel they must come to us to nd it? Anyway. we have some sort of corner on ‘enlightenment’ or whatever you want to call what people are looking for. ‘yes’. that is your choice. Miigwech Dave With whom do we share traditions? Who decides? How do we decide? Who is worthy of the knowledge? These are dif cult questions. to form friendships. (2) it is the people themselves who must decide. I’m all for sharing knowledge when appropriate and when those sharing are approached correctly and feel comfortable sharing it. I know the Ho-Chunk (formerly Winnegbago [sic]) and the Pueblo Indians are very close about keeping their spirituality and culture to themselves. or (3) sacred knowledge is meant to be shared so all the world’s people are strengthened. That’s what we hear a lot. In this conversation there is some consensus in exploring the dif culties of maintaining traditions and a sense of identity in a world still so driven by colonialist intentions and appropriative agendas. The respondents suggested that: (1) it is the elders and cultural teachers who must decide. Iseke Barnes reminded many times. where we know they are relatives. (1995. I sure won’t stand for getting scolded by non-Indians when they don’t like the fact that Indians don’t freely serve up the things they hold dear on demand to anyone. 1978). 21) . All participants emphasised the need for the traditions to be connected to culture or the knowledge would become somehow separated from culture and that this would be reductive. p. This wider identity is celebrated and perhaps promoted by rituals (Rappaport. … The individual does not form an identity in opposition to the group but recognizes the group as relatives included in his or her own identity. and to expend efforts to understand through personal interactions. Not just because it’s a lucrative market. The suggestion that knowledge should be centralised and then ‘distributed’ was challenged as this suggestion continues the colonial educational practices which we currently live with and which continue to do damage to Aboriginal children. The freedom and strength of the individual is the strength of the group. and thus a way to acquire understanding is to seek personal connections with people. M. The Internet respondent emphasised that knowledge is the people. If you choose to do so. We are not all the same.190 J. either. Is this not their right? I would answer with an emphatic. You shouldn’t make other Indians feel that they have some obligation to do the same. and I don’t believe. Indians shouldn’t think. Eber Hampton describes: Indian education orients itself around a spiritual centre that de nes the individual as the life of the group. Or because someone feels that it’s somehow your duty as an Indian to quench their thirst for something real. I’m all for bringing back in lost relatives.
we must guard against appropriation and misappropriation. Moreover. It is in this latter understanding that the relevance of Indigenous knowledge is articulated. In this communal perspective. One central reason for its sustainability is that local people view and employ them collectively to work towards personal and communally bene cial ends. educators. and sharing of knowledge. you cannot form the kind of group connections and personal relationships necessary to know Aboriginal people in a way that would make it possible for sharing spiritual and cultural practices. validation and legitimation. relevance. there is an open directive against the appropriation of knowledge for narrow individualistic interests. parents. This is a contemporary challenge for educators. Dei et al. In an Internet site or web page. This occurs when these distorted perceptions go unchallenged. 46–47) . Accountability calls on students. As we seek to integrate these knowledges into the conventional school systems. Practice means that knowledge is not only experiential and can be tested. but that it can also be used to address pressing social problems. it must be recognized that these knowledges are valid in their own right and that the process of bringing them into the academy should not itself constitute the measure of validation. Closely tied to the question of validation is the issue of legitimation. Credibility is a question of the educator providing knowledges that students can trust to re ect their social reality. accountability. and in their ability to adapt to new challenges and new environments. (pp. The process of validating Indigenous knowledges must not lead to Indigenous peoples losing control and ownership of knowledge. These misrepresentations become perceptions on which members of dominant society take action in day-to-day practices.Aboriginal People on the Internet 191 The idea that knowledge is the people or held within groups challenges the potential of an Internet site (or web page) as a way of making connections or acquiring cultural knowledge. options and strategies through which people continually make sense of their world and act within it. Uncritical Internet audiences accept these stereotypical representations of Aboriginal peoples leaving Internet users with narrow perceptions more deeply entrenched. sustainability. most Internet sites and web pages are produced by dominant culture. appropriation. The legitimacy of Indigenous knowledges is based on the right of peoples to de ne and articulate their own accounts of what is happening to them and how they intend to deal with pressing problems. they have stood the test of time. educators must deal with questions of credibility. (2000a) indicate that: To appropriately teach Indigenous knowledge. and community workers to be accountable to each other in the search for. which entrenches power by depicting Aboriginal peoples through a narrow set of images based on stereotypes. In other words. Indigenous knowledges are dynamic. practice. an acknowledgement of the varied ways. In other words.
suggested things that would not work. enabling the voyeuristic relations without any relation to resistance struggles. are not expressed by or about a dominant culture (Dei et al. 2000b). Iseke Barnes Discussion Through the news group conversations we see multiple and contradictory discourses about and from indigenous peoples and complex negotiations and counter-positioning. the indigenous world. 1995. are suggestive of the question of whether there will be suf cient resources and access so that indigenous people can use cyberspace to resist stereotypes and disrupt the voyeuristic gaze. Stiffarm. 1997. At a common sense level research was talked about both in terms of its absolute worthlessness to us. 1998. Barnhardt & Kawagley. early Nordic. authenticated and stereotyped so that difference is ‘appropriated in a manner that diffuses its power’ (hooks. 1995). 2000a).. Dei et al.192 J. Aboriginal peoples are taken up as objects. In examining the remaining Internet texts provided. How do these re ect academic discourses about Aboriginal peoples? In many ways. often through the guise of science. For example. 1996. But the participants. The project of academic institutions. there are also possibilities to encounter resistance texts.. Almeida. 3) In these Internet texts there were issues identi ed that many scholars and educators may not yet have considered. nor in their eldwork and the rude questions they often asked. As Bill demonstrates. despite a growing number of works in this area (Slapin et al. Shujaa. (1999. or have not received the sanction of institutions who hold power (Dei. Anglo-Saxon and Greco-Russian stories are ‘history’. p. p. the North is said to have ‘creation theories’. Battiste & Barman. M. . in Internet texts there is space for presentation of dominant discourses about colonised peoples presenting and re-presenting diverse peoples as exoticised others. while early Mayan. many individual non-indigenous researchers remain highly respected and well liked by the communities with whom they have lived. It told us things already known. Indigenous perspectives are frequently silenced because they are not written by academics (Taylor. The disciplines of science create their knowledges out of marginalised cultures. 1994. 1994. 1995. and its absolute usefulness to those who wielded it as an instrument. 1992. the South has ‘creation myths’. Howard. and made careers for people who already had jobs. In fact. is to create ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth’ for dominant society while: Transform[ing] the ‘truth’ of subjugated knowledges into myth and ction. 1998. In Bill’s text. Inuit or Ibo stories are ‘pre-history’. 16). As Tuhiwai Smith suggests: The power of research was not in the visits made by researchers to our communities. 1998. Tedla.. the taking up of discussions about Aboriginal peoples in these Internet texts parallels academic discourses and research practices as they pertain to Aboriginal peoples. in emphasising the small size of the Aboriginal populations in North America. 1998). Cajete. 1988. Aboriginal and indigenous pedagogic orientations are not frequently re ected in scholarly and educational texts. Castellano.
cultures. it is only able to enhance. (1999. which may include educators and students. Searches of the Internet repeatedly reveal discourses which stereotype and demean. Bill was challenged when he tried to make participants into silenced subjects and was rebuked when he tried to represent them in simplistic ways. it is not clear that these relationships are possible on the Internet itself. While the Internet is potentially a place to uncover those with whom such relationships might evolve. 1999. The ‘writing back’ in these Internet texts is a public performance which enables participants. as a site for resistance. p. Remembering the Blue Snake scenario described at the onset of this article. 4) This Internet discussion. to see Aboriginal resistance as it is played out. Being in a space where resistance is evident is helpful in mobilising further resistance and reducing the incidence of bystander behaviour in which members of dominant groups do not participate in stopping negative behaviour or actively participate in racist activities in order to be part of the peer group (Short.Aboriginal People on the Internet Subjugated history becomes dominant anthropology. but they have also become spaces of resistance and hope. 21–22) 193 Indigenous knowledges are subjugated knowledges but they are important to the work of indigenous peoples. (Dei. Telling our stories and making these knowledges evident is important because. learning and acquiring cultural knowledge requires that one go to the people and become involved in a relationship—a relationship of respect and sharing. subjugated medicine becomes dominant ‘herbal remedies’. as the number of such . although it is not a collaborative action in these examples but remains singular ones. This relationship will ensure that the learner comes to understand something about indigenous knowledges rather than engaging in cultural appropriation of information about Aboriginal peoples. While it is impossible to rebuke every racist or reductive comment directed at indigenous peoples (on the Internet or otherwise). It provides possibilities for collective resistance if we take the combined efforts of those resisting on this site as evidence. retrieve what we were and remake communities. Science may neither be the ultimate creator or destroyer of knowledge or ‘truth’. Is an Internet site a useful educational tool in making connections or acquiring cultural knowledge? As the participants in this discussion emphasise. pp. It may make it possible for educators and students to begin to consider divergent viewpoints. subjugated ways of understanding and naming the physical world become dominant science and technology. may give us hope by enabling us to see that resistance is possible by everyday people. as Tuhiwai Smith suggests: To resist is to retrench in the margins. it is potentially dangerous to presume that cultural knowledge can be acquired in a context in which participants may not be whom they say they are. languages and social practices—all may be spaces of marginalization. But reductive and essentialising discourses on the Internet are common. 2000). deprecate or ignore what has gone before.
M. Cyberspace participants who have power. But cultures on the Internet and in society are frequently represented in reductive ways. Indigenous cyberspace participants can use this medium to challenge dominant stereotypes and discourses. in engaging in writing back and resistance. Participants from dominant society will likely continue to engage in cyberspace. But these texts also demonstrate that indigenous peoples are mobilising and that resistance to dominant discourses is possible. Iseke Barnes assaults is too great. engaging in dialogue which enables resistance activities to be articulated. Ojibway. culture and pedagogy through Internet conversations with Aboriginal educators from across Canada (who are af liated with many Aboriginal nations—Cree. Okanagan. 2000). Locations where these dominant discourses can be challenged are important. shared and acknowledged. Metis. meanings are continually renegotiated. Awareness of multiple and diverse perspectives of Aboriginal peoples may assist all of us to counter our own stereotypic understandings of Aboriginal peoples and to resist simpli cations. Cyberspace therefore seems to engage in the ongoing public and academic discourses which reduce Aboriginal peoples to stereotypic images. it is helpful to see resistance as it encourages indigenous peoples to take pride and feel strong in struggles in which we do choose to engage. take Aboriginal identities as simplistic. it is corporate and not cultural interests which seem to be increasingly re ected on the Internet. Dominant society controls these representations and ensures that these dominant stereotypes are told and retold to maintain its power. examined. and others). and engage in cultural appropriation of Aboriginal knowledge. In this context. shared. It is important to have opportunities to witness struggles and activities which support the ongoing work of indigenous peoples. . access and control will represent their ‘others’ to serve their dominant agendas.194 J. Given the size and control of dominant society it is likely that representations of indigenous peoples on the Internet will be created that represent subjugated subjects in stereotypic ways. and negotiated. Sites of resistance may be less accessible and of such limited scale (compared to corporate activities) that one may need experience in where/how to nd these sites in order to nd alternatives to corporate material. Dene. aid in the struggles of indigenous peoples to have stories available and potentially to have them heard. Mi’kmaq. As the commercialisation of the Internet proceeds. Issues of scale and access combine to limit possibilities for resistance activities through technologies (De Vaney et al. Mohawk.. These texts. that alternative stories can be told. community. make Aboriginal traditions and spiritual practices commodities to be bought and sold. Inuit. Dominant society will use its frames of reference to interpret the Internet and conclude (as usual) that its dominance is justi able. These ongoing projects re ect the intersections of discourses about identity. Corporate interests have the resources to ood the Internet with representations and to ensure that these are catalogued/linked to be easily accessible. My ongoing work addresses issues of access and resistance amongst Aboriginal peoples in Canada. attempting to make indigenous peoples into pliant objects and silenced subjects. Indigenous orientations seem mostly to be excluded or represented in simplistic ways.
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