Aboriginal Youth and Technology:The challenges and opportunities Linda Pham ETEC 521 – 66A University of British Columbia August 1st, 2011
TechnologyToday’s world is surrounded by technology and it appears inevitable that technology affects cultures and individuals everywhere.
Technology Aboriginal people are no exception to thistechnological effect. Technology usage and engagement bring both challenges and opportunities to aboriginal people.
TechnologyThe youth population is unique in that most young individuals have been exposed to or been engaged with some sort of technological tools such as computers, the internet, cellular phones, televisions, radios, and smart phones to name a few.
TechnologyFor aboriginal youth, technology plays an important role by providing opportunities that contribute to individual development as well as cultural revival and revitalization.
TechnologyHowever, technology also brings challenges such as issues relating to individual and cultural identity.
Aboriginal youth face these challenges:1. Disadvantages of technology use2. Learning about the history of oppression and their own thoughts in contrast to the colonizer’s thoughts, and dealing with stereotypes3. Their identities are seen as irrelevant or exotic in a globalised present4. Challenges for improving the education for indigenous students5. Their culture becomes eroded or corrupted by the encounters with powerful modern technologies
Aboriginal youth gain these opportunities:1. Use technology to revive and revitalize their own cultural practices and representations2. To express their identity through digital media and internet representations3. Counter a history of oppression and learn their own thoughts in contrast to the colonizer’s thoughts4. Use the Internet, cd rom production, and independent filmmaking to inform their own communities and the broader global audience about traditions, stories, and ways of making meaning from their own traditional perspectives5. Use technology to learn and develop in the mainstream society while retaining their heritage and cultural identities
1. Disadvantages of technology useLike other aspects of globalisation, technologicaladvancements represent a double-edged sword forIndigenous youth.
1. Disadvantages of technology useThere is a digital divide that exists for Aboriginal people,including children and youth in the home and schoolsettings.
2. Oppression, stereotypes and the colonizer’s thoughtsThere are aboriginal youth who dream of leaving,confronted by the disappearance of traditional values andthe difficulty of living in a world made by non-Aboriginals,and who are, sometimes, condemned to a tragic fate.
2. Oppression, stereotypes and the colonizer’s thoughtsA young aboriginal artist: “The negative portrayal of Native people by the media affects Aboriginal people and how they internalize the negative stereotypes and begin to believe how they are perceived by the western culture”.
3. Irrelevant and exotic identitiesUrban Aboriginal students face a number of uniqueproblems – they are unable to find suitable connection withcultural knowledge and do not see themselves representedin the curriculum.
4. Education for aboriginal studentsInternet technology can strengthen First Nations education
4. Education for aboriginal studentsThe digital divide is in the experience of the student ratherthan access. For example, many First Nations students goto school where they experience mainly textbook-basedlearning with limited access and experience with internetactivities that could enhance and further their educationalexperience.
4. Education for aboriginal studentsResearch confirms what Aboriginal parents, students, andeducators already knew: institutions of formal schoolingare failing to provide Aboriginal students with theeducational environment and experiences that they need toachieve success.
4. Education for aboriginal studentsAboriginal students are encouraged to attend school inthe spite of a long, negative, and hurtful relationshipbetween Aboriginals and schooling.
4. Education for aboriginal studentsAlmost all educators lack the requisite knowledge andtraining for meaningfully teaching Aboriginal subjectmatter.
5. Erosion and corruption of cultureWhen Indigenous young people gain access to technology,the challenge is to give culturally-valid meaning to the useof new technologies.
5. Erosion and corruption of cultureUnless Indigenous people are involved with implementingthe integration of technology into their communities, thetechnology may work against other aspects of theirindigenous cultures.
1. Culture revival and revitalizationTechnology can be used to raise awareness aboutIndigenous rights and to create global youth networks.
1. Culture revival and revitalizationLonghouse Media has a mission to catalyze Indigenouspeople and communities to use media as a tool for self-expression, cultural preservation, and social change.
1. Culture revival and revitalizationThe internet is a tool that really helps in teachingendangered languages to Aboriginal people, especiallychildren and youth. Besides interacting with elders, theycan use computer programs to learn languages.
2. Expression of identityThere was a pilot workshop conducted by the AboriginalTerritories in Cyberspace (AbTeC). In this pilot program,Native Youth from the Mohawk Kahnawake SurvivalSchool help to design videogames based on traditionalstories from their tribe.
2. Expression of identityThe goal of AbTeC is to encourage Aboriginal use of onlineand media based technologies to strengthen Nativecultures.
2. Expression of identityWithin the larger site of “Taking it Global,” the AboriginalYouth Network (AYN) is a resource that is a unique sitecreated by Aboriginal youth for Aboriginal youth. The site is making attempts to promote cultural identitywithin Aboriginal culture specifically in Canada, makingthe attempt to connect across the country.
3. Countering oppressionAboriginal Youth Media (AYM) is a British Columbia-based organization that promote and share 21st centuryliteracy skills. They strive to provide youth-friendlytraining in a culturally-relevant learning environment. Theyouth can connect with elders, other Aboriginal youthgroups, and business mentors.
3. Countering oppressionThey also strive to promote the diversity of Indigenouslanguages, cultures, and the ways of knowing andteaching. AYM also claims to decolonize and “Youth-enize” curriculum by including youth and elder voices,Indigenous knowledge, and technology to create a uniqueand inclusive learning environment.
4. Teach the global audienceVideo technology assists Native Youth in telling theirstories, rediscovering their culture, and strengthening theirvoices in the community and the world.
4. Teach the global audienceNative Lens is a program of Longhouse Media, whichsupports the growth and expression of Indigenous youththrough digital media making.
4. Teach the global audienceFirst Nations Technology Council: “As early adopters of technology, many young First Nations people are mixing technology with traditional art. In some communities, students as young as 10 are learning new media skills, recording the stories of their Elders, digitizing community stories, using and designing computer graphics and building web-sites”.
5. Learn and developThe technology also opens opportunities for Indigenousyouth in the technology and knowledge-based industriesand fosters youth Indigenous employment.
5. Learn and developNicola Valley Institute of Technology caters to Aboriginalstudents. The goal of NVIT is to become the school ofchoice for Aboriginal students because they believe theyare best suited to educate Aboriginal students. They hopeto create Aboriginal leaders who can make a difference intheir communities. NVIT states that it involves elders inthe direction of the university and keeps it Aboriginalfocus.
5. Learn and developWith technology, First Nations youth are able to see manymore possibilities out there in the world and explore, forthemselves, who they can become.
Aboriginal youth are a unique group of people who,like the rest of the globe, face the technology-dominated world. They hold the responsibility touse and engage with technology in ways thatrespect, restore, and preserve their culture andheritage. ~
ReferencesAboriginal Perspectives. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from http://www3.onf.ca/enclasse/doclens/visau/index.php? mode=theme&language=english&theme=30666&submode=teachersAboriginal Youth Media Team. Retrieved July 13, 2011, from http://aymteam.com/index.htmlBruce, J. (n.d.) Indigenous Youth. UNESCO. Retrieved July 19, 2011, from http://www.unesco.org/ccivs/New-SiteCCSVI/institutions/jpc-youth/youth openforum/Section_for_Youth/Resources_and_tools/Other_documents_on_youth/OXFAM_INTERNATIONAL _YOUTH_PARLIAMENT/Chapter3_Indigenous_Youth.pdfDion, D., Johnston, K., & Rice, C. (2010). Decolonizing our schools: Aboriginal education in the Toronto District School Board. Toronto District School Board. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from http://www.tdsb.on.ca/_site/ViewItem.asp? siteid=185&menuid=781&pageid=603First Nations Technology Council: Youth Cafe. First Nations British Columbia. Retrieved on June 6, 2011, from http://fnbc.info/node/531Lamen, B., and Lewis, J. (n.d.) Skins: Designing games with First Nations youth. Rochester Institute of Technology. Retrieved on July 11, 2011, from http://www.rit.edu/gccis/gameeducationjournal/skins-designing-games-first- nations-youthLanguage Technologies. Northwest Indian News [Video file]. Posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=gajx9FlGZAs
References (Continued)Native Lens. Longhouse Media. Retrieved on July 7, 2011, from http://www.youtube.com/user/nativelensNicola Valley Institute of Technology. Retrieved on July 10, 2011, from http://www.nvit.caPeer Perspectives: Expressions of Aboriginal Youth. World News. Retrieved on July 11, 2011, from http://wn.com/AMESGalianoTaking it global. Retrieved on June 26, 2011, from www.tigweb.regWilliams, D. (2009, September 2). Internet technology and first nations education [Video file]. Video posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1RUesqalw4&playnext=1&list=PL96F8DAA1B6BC9C71