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Indigenous Communities & Wikimedia - Pros, Cons and Community
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Indigenous Communities & Wikimedia - Pros, Cons and Community

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This PowerPoint was presented at Wikimania 2011 and at the Indigenous People & Museums: Unraveling the Tensions conferences, and will be presented at MCN. It examines opportunities and concerns …

This PowerPoint was presented at Wikimania 2011 and at the Indigenous People & Museums: Unraveling the Tensions conferences, and will be presented at MCN. It examines opportunities and concerns regarding possible partnerships between Indigenous GLAMs and Wikimedia.

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  • This paper will examine Indigenous GLAMs – galleries, libraries, archives and museums, and communities in general, and how they can work with Wikimedia to not only provide valuable content and information to Wikipedia and related websites, but, how it can be used as an affordable tool in regards to cultural “preservation” and a teachable tool for students of all ages within communities. My primary focus is on North American Indigenous communities. A little bit about me, I’m a Masters student in museum studies at George Washington University with my bachelors degree from IUPUI emphasizing Native American Studies. My research often involves the representation of peoples in public history and popular culture, Wikipedia and related websites within the cultural sector, and contemporary art, specifically North American Indigenous artists. That’s my Twitter, feel free to follow me!
  • Wikimedia’s vision statement. Wikipedia itself is the 7th most popular visited website in the world. It’s free to use, free to access, and anyone can edit it. Mention GLAM and what I do with that.
  • As of today there are just over 5900 articles related to Indigenous North American topics, with the majority of those being very stubs, which need major improvement. With the many languages of Wikipedia there are a few in Indigenous languages. This is the Cherokee Wikipedia. All the articles written are in the Cherokee language.
  • This is the Dine’ language Wikipedia. While these are great opportunities for language preservation and language-specific articles and contributions, it limits the opportunity to share content with a broader audience, since English is widely spoken and read. Overall, we are in need of expansion and contributions related to Indigenous cultures of North America, and beyond. Especially in relation to contemporary topics (i.e. Diabetes amongst Native Americans, contemporary American Indian activism, American Indian comic book artists) and tribe-specific topics (i.e. bird singing, WakanTanka).
  • Quantity does not mean quality – most of the articles related to Indigenous peoples of North America are lack quality sourcing or come from outdated published sources. Wikipedia requires articles to be cited with published sources. This leads to the next concern – oral history. With its importance within Indigenous cultures, Wikipedia requires that sources are published – whether a book, a published paper, a documentary, etc. This can include transcribed oral history – however, creating an article about your grandmother’s weaving techniques is frowned upon, even if she is the last woman on earth weaving in that style. You have to have a published source related to her contributions. Other cons – there are few contemporary images, videos and recordings in Commons. Most are historical images i.e. Edward Curtis, or photos of people in regalia at pow-wows. There is a need for contemporary images of artists, art, life, and people within Indian Country for the world’s use. The majority of contributors to Wikipedia are white males, meaning most contributions to Indigenous articles are as well – we rely on neutral points of view, but, most contributors are not versed in appropriate verbiage and “cultural sensitivity’ in regards to Indigenous topics. Finally, anyone can edit – many groups and organizations fear their content will be abused, which rarely happens – content can only be improved on.
  • It’s free – anyone can edit, anyone can access it with a computer. The only investment needed is your time and love for sharing knowledge. You don’t have to share if you don’t want to. – If something isn’t published, it won’t be shared. Wikipedia is passionate about respecting individuals and communities, if something is ever contributed, without published sources about something culturally sensitive, it can, and generally should, be removed. And if you don’t want to participate, you don’t have too. No pressure! It’s a great skill builder – universities are utilizing Wikipedia as a tool to teach students better research and writing skills. This can allow anyone who can read, and wants to learn or knows how to use a computer, to expand on skills important to furthering their educational life. My professional writing has thrived, and we provide peer review online that is just as critical as the type you get from colleagues and professors. It’s a way to “preserve” – an easy and simple way to provide quality and true content for the world to use – not only students and researchers, and those who just “google it” on their phones to win a bet, but, for those who wish are from Indigenous communities – it’s a place to provide photos of skills and techniques, a place to preserve an oral history for them to use wherever they live, a place to teach, step by step through Wikibooks how to make a special pot – and print the directions off for free in a beautifully laid out book, and a place to let people know you are there. It also provides exposure – from a business standpoint organizations and individuals get more attention to their work than they did before they had a Wikipedia page. I have written Wikipedia articles about artists such as Jim Denomie and Ryan Singer – artists who have examined and approved of the articles I’ve written, monitored changes of their pages, and noticed that Wikipedia has provided major drive to their websites.  While not all communities have access, there are opportunities for that to change with community support – from within and outside.
  • Pros and cons must both be examined, which I hope to have happen through this project. In the Fall I’ll be working with the National Museum of the American Indian as their Wikipedian in Residence, examining these pros, cons and opportunities. Opportunities exist in regards to working with tribal GLAMs to expand on related content, we hope to work with communities to provide a “best practices” in regards to cultural sensitivity on Wikipedia. I’d like to see the first conference of Indigenous Peoples and Free Culture – bringing communities from around the world together to explore ways for partnership. Outreach opportunities also exist for communities to either bring someone from the outside or someone from the inside to teach community members how to contribute, and how to build programs and projects related to content building, media contributions, technology acquisitions and stronger relationships between the free culture world and Indigenous communities. And so much more….!!!
  • This paper will examine Indigenous GLAMs – galleries, libraries, archives and museums, and communities in general, and how they can work with Wikimedia to not only provide valuable content and information to Wikipedia and related websites, but, how it can be used as an affordable tool in regards to cultural “preservation” and a teachable tool for students of all ages within communities. My primary focus is on North American Indigenous communities. A little bit about me, I’m a Masters student in museum studies at George Washington University with my bachelors degree from IUPUI emphasizing Native American Studies. My research often involves the representation of peoples in public history and popular culture, Wikipedia and related websites within the cultural sector, and contemporary art, specifically North American Indigenous artists. That’s my Twitter, feel free to follow me!

Transcript

  • 1. Indigenous Communities& WikimediaPros, Cons and CommunitySarah Stierch - @sarah_stierchsarahstierch@gmail.comAnd yes, that’s my username too: SarahStierch
  • 2. Imagine a world inwhich every singlehuman being canfreely share in thesum of allknowledge. That’sour commitment.
  • 3. CONS•Low quality articles•Oral history•Lack of awareness aboutverbiage and “politicalcorrectness”•Few contemporary imagesof communities and people.•Anyone can edit or use –fear of abuse.•Lack of contributions fromIndigenous people – mainlywhite males
  • 4. PROS • It’s free! • You don’t have to if you don’t want to • Skill builder • Preservation • Exposure
  • 5. PARTNERSHIP & POSSIBILITES• Working with tribal GLAMs to expand on content related to their collections and culture on Wikipedia.• Provide a framework for Wikipedians regarding cultural sensitivity – one does not exist, and best practices are needed.• Indigenous Peoples and Free Culture conference• Outreach – Wikipedian on Reservations
  • 6. Indigenous Communities& WikimediaPros, Cons and CommunitySarah Stierch - @sarah_stierchsarahstierch@gmail.comAnd yes, that’s my username too: SarahStierch