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Electronic, Indigenous Converge at Banff
Still Water co-organizes international conference on privacy, publicity, and responsible re-use.
gkisedtanamoogk at Lake Louise

25-29_JULY_2007. From the Arctic Circle to the Coral Sea, thinkers from a dozen nations converged on the Canadian Rockies for Connected Knowledge 2007. Organized by New Media's Still Water group and the Banff New Media Institute, this summit concentrated on sustainable paradigms for next-generation networks, both electronic and indigenous.

Diane Gray, Randy Kemp, and Charlene FrancisThe decades to come will require ethical collaboration across the many cultural divides that criss-cross our society: between drug companies and rainforest shamans over medicinal herbs; between Native peoples and musicians over ceremonial chants; between artists and technologists in art and science collaborations; and between libertarians and communitarians over control of software design. Beyond the artificial poles of copyright lockdown and "information wants to be free," participants in the Connected Knowledge conferences are trying to walk a third path that is sensitive to both privacy and public access.

Education and gaming

Jennifer Wemigwans and Susan KennardSeveral summit participants turned to electronic games to connect electronic and aboriginal culture. Jennifer Wemigwans of Invert Media presented two of her education-related projects: FourDirectionsTeachings.com, an interactive website showcasing Indigenous knowledge from five First Nations across Canada; and Breach of Contract, a serious game whose players time-travel to play out different outcomes from treaty negotiations affecting First Nations peoples in Canada and the USA.

Mark Daggett, Brian Calliou, and Alex GallowayJennifer was joined in the discussion on games as an educational tool by game theorist Alex Galloway and New Media faculty member Joline Blais, who discussed a game under development at Still Water about retribalizing a post-apocalyptic world.

Archiving and sharing culture

Kim Christen and Craig Dietrich presented their innovative Mukurtu Archive, a photo database tuned to the social mores of the Warumungu people of Australia. It was very helpful for newcomers to the discussion to see a working tool that embodies the innovative idea of "responsible re-use" discussed at the conference.

Gina Brooks, Jon Ippolito, Brian Calliou, Randy Kemp, gkisedtanamoogk, Diane Gray, Maria Victoria Guglietti

Legal innovations

Legal activist Wendy Seltzer and anthropologist James Leach presented the Cross-Cultural Partnership developed at the Connected Knowledge 2006 conference in Lucerne, Maine. This unusual legal template leverages the ethical responsibility required of a business partnership to create new opportunities for people from different backgrounds to work together responsibly.

Cristobal MartinezRandy Kempgkisedtanamoogk and Joline Blais



Two participants from Arizona, Randy Kemp and Cristobal Martinez, were excited to see the partnership because their performance art had already struggled with many of the problems of cultural translation the partnership attempts to solve. Their project Radio Healer unites Native flute and dance with electronic music in a way that attempts to be sensitive to the differences between the cultures they represent.

Wendy Seltzer

In a more premeditated example of the partnership in action, Wampanoag elder gkisedtanamoogk and Joline Blais presented their plan for Green House, a Maine-based Living/Learning Center based on the Wabanaki Longhouse model and permaculture design principles. Green House will feature the multi-age Wassookeag home school, college student interns, and a team of hands-on advisors. Green house will produce its own food in sustainable gardens, food forests, aquaculture and a four-season greenhouse, and aim at total recycling of all organic matter and zero waste. For their part, gkisedtanamoogk and Micmac clan mother Miigam'agan will work with young and old to sensitize them to relations with all local living beings, including indigenous peoples and indigenous life forms.

Banff Aboriginal Leadership and Management director Brian Calliou spoke of numerous contexts from his experience in which the partnership could be helpful. Wendy and James plan to incorporate feedback from Brian and others in their next revision of the template.

Electronic and indigenous networks

Vera FrancisVera Francis presented her work with Gina Brooks on Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon (We Take Care of Our Land), a community activist project to reclaim the ceremonial shoreline of Maine's Passamaquoddy Nation from the encroachment of the liquefied natural gas industry. Mark Daggett showed how his peer-based philanthropy site Pledgie could marshall community support for the campaign's legal costs through buttons like the one below.

Click here to lend your support to: We Take Care of Our Land and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito

Mark Daggett, Jon Ippolito, and Joline Blais also devised a "glocal" trust network designed to match up outsiders with indigenous people in their own backyards. They plan to continue work on documenting and implementing this novel idea on the Cross-Cultural Partnership Web site.

Guy Sioui DurandThe conference also included commentary by Guy Sioui Durand on architecture and indigenous space, Charlene Francis and Diane Gray on trust, Maria Victoria Guglietti and Louise Profeit Leblanc on community engagement, as well as contributions by filmmakers Alethea Arnaquq-Baril and Jennifer Dysart and BNMI director Susan Kennard.

Conference participants had this to say about the unusual gathering:

Definitely one of the best conferences I've ever had the privilege to attend.

I was overwhelmed by the support and encouragement of everyone present.

I walked away with a renewed appreciation of being one with all, mountains, landscapes, and more especially, longhouse friendships.


gkisedtanamoogk, Emily Paige, and Vera FrancisPlans are afoot for future conferences on related themes in the UK and in other locales. The conference series is organized by Still Water.





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Updated: 2007-08-13 by Jon Ippolito

Updated: 2007-09-06 by Jon Ippolito
Posted 2007-08-12 23:22:41 by Jon Ippolito
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