Tag Archives: indigenous services

Ways of seeing: collections, stories, language and place #ndf2012

Ways of seeing: collections, stories, language and place
Eleanor Whitworth, Arts Victoria
Culture Victoria has worked closely with indigenous communities to share indigenous cultural material and stories. The indigenous culture theme is one of the most visited sections on the Culture Victoria website. When we implemented the ‘browse our content by location’ search function, we thought carefully about the implications for representing indigenous content.
Language is not a sole determiner of personal heritage, but it is a significant one. Unlike New Zealand, where Māori is an official language, Australia currently has around 150 indigenous languages; none are official, and most are under threat. As Aboriginal communities identify connection to country and culture via language group, mapping our indigenous material to a single point that referenced a Western place name would have been grossly insufficient.
This presentation will cover our partnership with the Koorie Heritage Trust to map our content to the widely recognised 38 language regions in Victoria, including the decisions we made on representing borders and dealing with multiple spellings. The presentation will also provide examples of the power of cultural collections to foster connection and collaboration between museums and traditional owners; support intangible heritage; and link objects with stories and place.

Starts asking “Where are you from?” and plays clip YouTube clip Jimmy Little Yorta Yorta man

Eleanor would answer with a point; Jimmy with an area. She’d see the country as divided into large chunks and needs a point to give specificity; he’d see it as collection of language areas: http://www.abc.net.au/indigenous/map/

Culture Victoria has collections and stories. Group stories under broad themes; link stories; search stories by location.

Collaboration with Koorie Heritage Trust. Each artwork accompanied by story, noting storyteller and language group. Language groups are strong identifiers for place so logical to extend browse-by-location function to include language groups. Used Gazetteer of Australian Placenames to help mapping – pragmatic but not always optimal as pinpoints area by geographic centre. Language groups aren’t point, they’re areas.

Problem #1: borders. This project is a “Victoria” project but this isn’t how indigenous people would see the area. Decided to include 38 groups that broadly overlap state of Victoria.

Problem #2: borders. How to determine areas of language groups? They change! Looked at three maps – interesting that over time they seem to become less detailed. Decided not to show visible borders – seemed best way to acknowledge fluidity. But still needed to determine for purposes of database/searching. Used maps, created polygons to overlay on map. Sometimes had to go by eye. Sent lat/long data to someone to create the polygon on the map. Some regions overlap a little, or a lot. Checked, refined.

Also had to consider spelling variants – phonetic interpretations. Some identify with one or another so system had to cope with all.

At the moment can only search by location but hope to add search by language group.

Did this exercise because had something to attach to the mapping: the stories.

Look at the stories on the website (eg the possum skin cloaks – which skins were from New Zealand as illegal to kill possums in Australia whereas encouraged here…)

Q: Can you tell us about the consultation you did?
A: Koorie Heritage Trust is made up largely of Aboriginal people – close relationship with communities. Lots of discussion about shapes as very sensitive, but mostly driven by community.

Q: Very Western structured presentation on website cf traditional storytelling cycle.
A: Some limits due to funding. But it’s the content that’s the cycle – the story circles around. This conference has raised questions of how you present data, present linking systems, in an interface that’s fluid and flexible – emerging technologies. Definitely aim to increase interactivity.

[ETA 11/7/2014: Slides and notes are blogged at Culture Victoria.]

From "We Shall Remain" to "Operation teen book drop"

new national indigenous library services initiatives
Loriene Roy and Scott Smith
abstract (pdf); We Shall Remain librarians’ website

Once American Indians were the whole of the now-USA population; now 0.1%.
Urban/homeland split due to 1950s/60s policy of relocation. Health, higher education, economics, traditions are compromised.

Initiatives to support libraries; this presentation is a status on these two projects.

“We Shall Remain”
Film is a rich media to show experience. Indigenous have been depicted in film for decades but are rarely involved in the production itself. “We Shall Remain” is a PBS show, the largest “American Experience” series produced. Aired in 5 90-minute episodes: After the Mayflower (depicting especially Wampanoag, Pequot, Nipmuc, Narragansett), Tecumseh’s Vision (Shawnee), Trail of Tears (Cherokee), Geronimo (Chiricahua Apache), Wounded Knee (Oglala Lakota and Native peoples from tribes across the country). The last was able to draw on rich media coverage from the time.

Project also included a mentoring programme for Native film producers, and a website linked to many films created. Grants for states and cities to collaborate with local organisations to create public events, programming and to deepen public understanding of Native history.

Event kit for libraries gives ideas about how to organise culturally appropriate discussions. Storytelling events, reading circle (“The Plague of Doves”), exploring stereotypes, art contests and projects, discussion forums, film festival, guideleines for evaluating media resources (many preexisting guides for selecting books on Native topics; this is the first for evaluating film) – shipped to 15,000 public libraries. Won an award for design and communication. PDF copy available at We Shall Remain librarians’ website. Two Facebook groups.

The “We Shall Remain” title image of the teepee and flag (“Nespelem”, a photo by Bob Charlo of the Kalispel Nation, was taken at the annual powow on the Colville Reservation in Nespelem, WA in 1992): “To me it represents that we – Native people – are still here and still vibrant. We are not a conquered people. We are a contributing people.” — Bob Charlo

Highest number of states with events were Arizona, Texas, and Utah. Most popular were lectures/discussions (often about topics re the TV programmes), screenings (of previews or episodes (esp Trail of Tears) or local films by Native producers/authors, displays of books/photographs/other featuring Native history and/or authors, sometimes collaborating with local organisations); then performance and hands-on activities (weaving, basketry, games, musical and dramatic performances, crocheting afghans donated to local hospital).

Operation Teen Book Drop
Donation of 8,000 YA books to hospitalised teens in 2008-09 by publishers, organised by readergirlz, Guys Lit Wire, and YALSA. April 15th 2010 will take YA books to teens attending tribal schools on reservations. So far 27 schools registered – about 5000 teens. Featuring Lurline Waliana McGregor, Sherman Alexie, Joseph Bushac (sp?) – other names mentioned include Dean Koontz.

Coordinating national publicity plan to tribal newsletters and library community.

Will have live chat at readergirlz.com. Raising funds online.

Successes are result of collaboration, promotion, and planning.

Q: Why would schools not want to be involved?
A: Might have assumed would get a different title per student – instead it’s one title for the whole community so they might feel it’s too much work for a single title. Another issue is that publishers are saying “Take the books now” so storage space is an issue. Trying to locate local liaisons to help with work.

Q: Will it screen in New Zealand?
A: Needs to be picked up by tv; but can buy on PBS.