Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A lesson in preserving indigenous knowledge

Whitney White

This is a very good article that has ramifications for all indigenous people especially Ngai Tahu.

"Sometimes, stories just fade away.

That bothers Whitney White — especially when it happens at the Prairie Island Indian Community.

"A lot of our elders aren't passing down the culture and the history as much any more," the 22-year-old said.

White is combating the issue her own way. She made it the core of her senior project at St. Olaf College — a video collection of interviews with tribal elders.

"If no one's stepping up and doing this, then it's my responsibility to myself, my history and my daughter," she said. "I'm helping to preserve our identity as a people.""

"White said the issue was crystallized for her when she went to interview former Tribal Council member Curtis Campbell Jr. He went into the hospital later that day.

White never saw him alive again.

"That just shows you how important my project is," the 2005 Red Wing High School graduate said. "These elders aren't going to be here forever.""

"As she moves forward, White said she wants to keep pointing the camera at Prairie Island's elders. First, more elders. Then, the following generation. Maybe youth after that, she said."

"I like to listen," she said. "And I think it's worth recording."

Each and every day more of our traditional knowledge is lost. Succession planning is all about protecting that knowledge for future generations.

We have already lost so much, it is a real concern to me that now we have the economic tsunami and OTRONT are going to cut - jobs, initiatives... But what is less important? What can be cut and what remains to help us strengthen our tribal identity and preserve our traditions.


feddabonn said...

thanks. a very timely reminder that our oral cultures (especially) need preserving, and if we don't move fast could be forgotten!

Marty Mars said...

Kia ora feddabonn

So true and it's one of those one's where we need to start yesterday... but today will do.