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Event - Intersection Discussion Series - Teleconference (5 October 2006)

The intersection discussion continues. The topics covered included traditional knowledge that by its nature could not be put on-line and the cultural barriers that might be inherent in user interfaces.


  • 5 October 2006


  • Heidi Hazelton (ATRC)
  • Sunny Osawabine (De-ba-jeh-mu-jig)
  • Jan Richards (ATRC)
  • Christopher Wemigwans (De-ba-jeh-mu-jig)

Discussion Notes:

Background: Prior to the call Jan had sent a list of questions to Christopher. The questions guide the discussion.

Are there any kinds of information within the Ojibway culture can’t be put on-line?

  • Teachings are the only real sensitive material
  • But there are cases of teachings that have been allowed to become more well known and be written down - e.g. Seven grandfather teachings have been put online by several groups.
  • Process would probably involve the storyteller discussing a publication request with the community – there must be a consensus.

We might want to have a note that we are talking here about the "Odawa" dialect – this helps clarify the origin of a teaching. (There are three tribes in Wikwemikong: ojbwe, potowatame, odawa)

Teachings are meant to be shared - not kept secret. People can usually pass on teachings if they like that they hear from an elder.

Are there a variety of levels of secrecy?

Maybe - important to ask elders.

Peterborough petroglyphs are an interesting case - they are mnemonics for stories that maybe could not be written but in many cases the meanings and the stories have been lost.

For instance could some information be put talked about on the phone but not put online? Could other information be put on-line as long as it was password protected?

If person lives too far away, a storyteller might use the phone for reasons of practicality.

Could use mnemonic reminders. Blue is the colour of sky and water and is symbolic of truth. What is important is the message.

Teachings are never told online - but offline videos might be possible.

Are there steps that could be followed to build trust with an Elder who perhaps lived in another part of the country?

People can pass on teachings without being elders.

The reason things are not written down is that they become too easy to recall – so they are not lived in order to remember them.

What kind of message could be put on a site in place of sensitive material?

Not sure. There are not really sensitive things like the example of deceased people in the culture of aboriginal Australians.

Is there anything about the graphics that typically occur in computer interfaces that are counter-intuitive to Ojibwe culture? Icons for help etc?

Well some are English-centric.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 April 2007 16:08