Tagged: Indigenous

Post-colonial mapping

Image credit: John Nelson / Tropical Forest Trust via Reuter
This post is part of Blog Action Day for the environment.

Pygmies are using GPS to map their land in order to save sacred sites and ecologically sensitive areas. I find it an interesting and novel approach, but I’m a little apprehensive about one thing. Traditionally mapping has been the precursor to colonialism. Marking the territory precludes ownership. But given the arrogance of the Northern colonial powers to take whatever they think is theirs by right of power, then it’s nice to see the roles change. It remains to be seen if this will truly benefit the Pygmies, but anything to support their cause I’m all for. They have a right to their land, so perhaps for once the map can be the territory.

Congo pygmies use GPS to protect forest – World Environment – MSNBC.com:

“The sets have icons on them, so they don’t have to be able to read and write. They basically go out and say, ‘OK, click, here is a sacred site,’ and a GPS point is taken and links up to the satellite,” Poynton said.

“They can wander through the forest and map all of the areas — the tombs of their ancestors, hunting grounds, sacred areas, water holes, areas of medicinal plants — these are all captured on GPS points, all downloaded on the computer,” he added.

“And suddenly, you’ve got a map.”

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A great example of corporate responsibility

You may have noticed the Rosetta Stone ad on the right column. Rosetta Stone is a great language learning software package that I have been using to learn Italian. Not only is it a great system, they are one of the more responsible corporations out there providing a tremendous planetary service. Their Endangered Language Program is designed to help indigenous communities develop their own Rosetta Stone software to preserve their local language. The most amazing thing is that the community gets to retain rights to the program. I big high five to one corporation making a difference.

Rosetta Stone: Endangered Language Program.:

We Preserve More Than Words
Pass on a Living Language to Future Generations

Across North America and around the world, indigenous communities are working to preserve and revitalize their languages. Rosetta Stone can be a valuable resource for these efforts. Indigenous communities contract Rosetta Stone to develop editions in their language for their exclusive use. Around North America—from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake in the northeast, to the Seminole Tribe in the deep south, to NANA Corporation’s Inupiat shareholders in the Arctic—Rosetta Stone has been selected as the technology of choice for language revitalization.

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DIY Native media

Some cool Native media and an important cause. Please support the Native Rights Fund. The performance is by Culture Shock, check out more info on them below.


Culture Shock Camp, comprised of Marcus “Quese IMC” Frejo and Brian “DJ Shock B” Frejo, is a Pawnee/Seminole hip-hop group originating out of Oklahoma City. Culture Shock’s sound and vibe is defined by its unique and powerful blend of hip-hop and Native music, language, and culture that promotes a message of wellness, unity and Native pride. Culture Shock was named “one of the most celebrated hip-hop groups in the Native American world” by The Source Magazine, one of the largest-selling hip-hop magazines in the country.

Culture Shock Camp has successfully toured nationally and performed before thousands of fans in more than 400 cities and reservations. Culture Shock also conducts youth leadership and wellness training for Native American youth using both hip hop and Pawnee/Seminole cultural teachings as the basis of their message of empowerment for Native youth.

At MySpace

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