Best Practices for Approaching Indigenous New Media

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The following list was compiled out of the Symposium for Indigenous New Media (#SINM18), which was held as part of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) in June, 2018. We welcome your feedback and suggestions in the comments below.

  • Be a good relation
    1. building meaningful relationships with community and individuals.
    2. It requires time and emotional labour that needs to be recognized by department heads and tenure committees
    3. Reaching out, being in touch, giving people the opportunity to comment on drafts and final reports.
    4. People over tools: it means letting a project go often times it means rethinking your research schedule—no matter how mind-blowing and useful the tool you have designed might be.
  • Consent: Do better
    1. Settler colonialism is already premised off of a non-consensual relationship, so we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard as researchers working with community
    2. All too often, and this is perhaps amplified in the post-TRC moment, Indigenous buy-in is an after though—a box to be checked after the project has been completed or is near completion.
    3. being accountable to the community or person you are working with and that means checking in throughout the project.
    4. A yes at the beginning is not a yes at the middle or end.
  • Take data sovereignty seriously:
    1. First Nations Information Governance Centre: OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access, Permission).
    2. If you are fortunate enough to work with community, realize that their rules of data stewardship may different than your field’s or your institution’s.
    3. While it may be “legal” for you to use data in a particular way, recognize that the university has been complicit in the theft of Indigenous knowledge since the onset of colonization.
    4. Hold yourself to a higher standard and familiarize yourself with the guidelines that are available.
  • Please include Indigenous thinkers, programmers on your syllabi!
    1. Not only is there tons of awesome stuff out there that you and your students will benefit from studying—but I would go so far as to say doing so is a political act:
    2. Settler colonialism works by simplifying Indigeniety and relegating it to the past. Indigenous new media holds up Indigenous presence and Indigenous futures
    3. Decolonizing technology also means being accountable to the ways in which tech contributes to colonial violence while making space for Indigenous peoples to share their work and reframe the goals and objectives of technology.
  • Make safe spaces for Indigenous students:
    1. Adam Gaudry has written about how, while, in this post-TRC moment, universities are Indigenizing, they are doing very little towards decolonizing, which is to say that while departments are scrambling to make Indigenous hires and recruit Indigenous students, the colonial infrastructure of universities is going largely unchanged.
    2. Supporting Indigenous students means advocating for tenure-stream Indigenous positions and cluster hires, but it also means making safe spaces (URL and IRL) available for Indigenous students to share ideas and support one another.
    3. If you are asking students to engage in open access platforms, remember that Indigenous peoples and particularly in Indigenous women and Indigenous queer/no-binary folk are much more likely to be subject to online racism violence and hate. I won’t even use the word trolling, because I think that elides the reality of what happens here. Think about alternate spaces to mobilize Indigenous voice where students work together with a system of support in place.

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