After the fest – a look at indigenous knowledge

indegenous knowledge, subtle technologies — By on June 9, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I am in withdrawal. The 13th annual Subtle Technologies festival just wrapped up. It was an amazing weekend with some of the most stimulating minds. My brain is full and it will take me quite a while to download everything I’ve experienced so I will just share with you a summary of one speaker today and will save the rest for future posts.

The festival kicked off with a talk on indigenous perspectives on sustainability by Deborah McGregor, Associate Professor of Geography and Aboriginal Studies at University of Toronto. As an Anishinabe woman who grew up on Whitefish River First Nation in Northern, Ontario, Deborah noted that relying on the environment was her lived experience before the concept of “traditional knowledge” was constructed by governments and academia.  She spoke about the growing recognition that around the world Indigenous people have developed sustainable practices. This knowledge is embedded in stories and is a rich source for ideas that are vitally important to inform global environmental issues. One thing that struck me in her talk was the importance of protecting not only the stories but the language—the key to the knowledge. Even more importantly, the traditional knowledge holders, practitioners and speakers of the languages should also be protected as part and parcel of the preservation of this knowledge.


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