How science and First Nations oral tradition are converging

The researchers also found that roughly 175 years ago, the population of Coast Tsimshian in the region declined by as much as 57 per cent. This coincides with colonization and the spread of diseases such as smallpox, the accounts of which have also been passed down in First Nations oral tradition.

“Science is starting to be used to basically corroborate what we’ve been saying all along,” said Barbara Petzelt, an archaeologist with the Metlakatla First Nation, one of the researchers in the study.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/science-first-nations-oral-tradition-converging-1.3853799

Thousands Once Spoke His Language in the Amazon. Now, He’s the Only One.

“Amadeo said it haltingly, in broken Spanish, the only way he would be able to communicate with the world from that moment on. No one else spoke his language anymore. The survival of his culture had suddenly come down to a sole, complicated man.”

“The waters of the Peruvian Amazon were once a vast linguistic repository, a place where every turn of the river could yield another dialect, often completely unintelligible to people living just a few miles away. But in the last century, at least 37 languages have disappeared in Peru alone, lost in the steady clash and churn of national expansion, migration, urbanization and the pursuit of natural resources. Forty-seven languages remain here in Peru, scholars estimate, and nearly half are at risk of disappearing.”

The Mapping of Massacres: In Australia, historians and artists have turned to cartography to record the widespread killing of Indigenous people.

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Really interesting article that gets into the importance of history and why we fight over it. In addition, how do we acquire knowledge of the past? In doing this project, the lead historian has to distinguish between the massacres based on the strength of evidence to support their happening. What is also interesting is what kind of evidence was used. Should indigenous oral histories be counted on? Or only traditionally western accounts such as newspapers? This argument plays out in the United States as well.

Lastly, rather than writing a book, the research was presented on a map. Why does the impact of this information feel different when presented visually rather than verbally? What does this tell us about the power of art when learning about history?

“In many Indigenous communities, art works have long had dual functions as historical sources, as repositories of cultural or spiritual knowledge, and as maps of territory. There is an established tradition of mapping massacre sites through art, as in the acclaimed paintings by the Aboriginal artists Rover Thomas, Queenie McKenzie, and Rusty Peters, among others. Watson wanted viewers of her video to be aware that any map is a slippery, contested artifact, and also to have a bodily response to the work. She told me the story of one of her relatives, who, after viewing the video, turned to her in anguish, saying, “Where wasn’t there a massacre?””

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/mapping-massacres

Why Native Americans do not separate religion from science

“Scientists began thinking and writing about how Native Americans understand the natural world in the 20th century. Instead of seeing a conflict between Western science and Native American knowledge, they started thinking about ways to learn how Native Americans addressed environmental and ecological issues differently.”

https://theconversation.com/why-native-americans-do-not-separate-religion-from-science-75983

Modern World Tugs at an Indonesian Tribe Clinging to Its Ancient Ways

“They, and others like them, have for decades resisted Indonesian government policies that pressured the forest-bound indigenous groups to abandon their old customs, accept a government-approved religion and move to government villages. That shift, along with the inevitable lure the modern world has for their children, has led to major disjunction between generations of Mentawai.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/02/world/asia/modern-world-tugs-at-an-indonesian-tribe-clinging-to-its-ancient-ways.html

Is All Fur Bad Fur?

When considering the ethics of hunting and wearing animal skins, how do we balance our society’s ethics with the traditional practices of indegenous communities that rely on hunting and wearing animal skins? This issue connects to both ethics and indigenous knowledge systems and is an interesting case to examine how we can balance the ethics of different communities and whether we can come up with a defensible way to find balance.

“But an amendment to the Marine Mammal Act of 1972 exempted “Indians, Aleut, and Eskimos (who dwell on the coast of the North Pacific Ocean) from the moratorium on taking provided that taking was conducted for the sake of subsistence or for the purpose of creating and selling authentic native articles of handicraft and clothing.””

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/fashion/sea-otter-fur-hunting-alaska-fashion-debate.html