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Working Tools Seminar Series: Community-Facing Data Management Platforms for Indigenous-University Partnerships

One of the key challenges to collaborative practice between university-based researchers and Indigenous communities is to foster equitable knowledge co-production with all stakeholders through the sharing of data. Increasingly this task is mediated by digital systems, but there is no single solution that serves all needs. This seminar series brings together research partnership teams that have developed and employed digital knowledge mobilization solutions to their work. Our ambition is to explore existing efforts and anticipate future digital solutions for research partnerships.

Venue: This seminar series is presented via Zoom at 3-4:30 PM (PDT) on selected Fridays in the Fall. Please contact Andrew Martindale (andrew.martindale@ubc.ca) to get an e-invite to the series.

Seminar Schedule

September 25

You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Know: Heiltsuk Traditional Use and Site Mapping

Elroy White / Q̌íx̌itasu (Heiltsuk)

October 2

Working Tools – The Reciprocal Research Network

Sue Rowley (UBC)

October 16

Nunanngualiurniq: Map Making with Inuit

Ezra Greene (UBC)

October 23

Stó:lōConnect: A Digital System supporting Stó:lō Heritage / Land / Environmental Stewardship

Dave Schaepe and Matt McGinity (Stó:lō Research & Resource Management Centre)

October 30

TASA: A Community-facing Spatial Archive for Heritage Data

Andrew Martindale (UBC), Kisha Supernant (UofA), Stephanie Huddlestan (Metlakatla)

November 6

Voices on the Land: The Húy̓at Interactive Web Site

Dana Lepofsky (SFU), Elroy White / Q̌íx̌itasu (Heiltsuk), Mark Wunch (Green Coast Media), and Jennifer Carpenter (Heiltsuk Cultural Eucation Centre)

November 13

Developing a Culturally Appropriate Digital Archive for Métis Archaeological Heritage

Kisha Supernant (Alberta) 

November 20

Indigenous Heritage Futures: Caring for the Past in a Grand Ronde Way

Sara Gonzalez, Ian Kretzler (University of Washington) and Briece R. Edwards (The Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde)

November 27

Social Enterprise Approaches and Cloud SaaS Software for CRM, or How I Spent All My Money Building Software​

Peter Evans (Trailmark)

December 4

Enacting Indigenous Data Governance in Archaeology

Neha Gupta (UBC), Nichole Vessie (Archaeology Office, Westbank First Nation),and Nancy Bonneau (Archaeology Office, Westbank First Nation)

December 11

Curating Continuity in Sq’éwlets: A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Community in the Fraser River Valley

Dave Schaepe (SRRMC), Kate Hennessy (SFU), Michael Blake (UBC), Clarence Pennier (Sq’ewlets First Nation)

This semiar series is organized by the Indigenous/Science Research Cluster and sponsored by Green College (UBC) and by a SSHRC Connections Grant. 

Presentation Abstracts

You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Know: Heiltsuk Traditional Use and Site Mapping

Elroy White / Q̌íx̌itasu (Heiltsuk)

Project Summary: We will harmonize identification and recording of Heiltsuk cultural heritage sites between the GIS methods used by HIRMD’s Guardian Watchmen and archaeology crews. We will train staff and students on GIS for site and traditional use mapping. Funding and increased capacity will enable 3 site and traditional use mapping projects. Here is the link to the recording of Elroy's presentation.

Working Tools – The Reciprocal Research Network

Sue Rowley (UBC)

Co-developed in equal partnership by the Musqueam Indian Band, the Stó:lō Nation/Stó:lō Tribal Council, the U’mista Cultural Society, and the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, the Reciprocal Research Network (RRN, rrncommunity.org) is an online tool to facilitate reciprocal and collaborative research about cultural heritage originating from Indigenous Nations whose territories are now often referred to as the Northwest Coast. The RRN seeks to provide a venue wherein communities, cultural institutions and researchers can work together reciprocally. Members can build their own projects, collaborate on shared projects, upload files, hold discussions, and create social networks. Museums from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom also participated to the development of the RRN: the Royal British Columbia Museum, the Burke Museum, LOA, the Glenbow, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the McCord Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of the American Indian, the American Museum of Natural History, the Pitt-Rivers Museum, and the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Here is the link to the recording of Sue's presentation.

Nunanngualiurniq: Map Making with Inuit

Ezra Greene (UBC)

Participatory mapping is a map making and interviewing method where interviewees discuss and map their lived experiences and knowledge of the land, sea, ice, and other domains. Data created through participatory mapping interviews can be added to geographic information systems (GIS) that represent rich cultural understandings of space and place. In this talk, I present examples of my own experiences making maps with Inuit, which has contributed to my understanding of how Inuit learn the land. I also present how physical, hand-drawn maps can be digitized and combined with GIS software to create inventive ways of doing spatial analyses and depicting cultural landscapes. Inuit have been doing innovative mapping projects for a long time now, and, in addition to presenting participatory mapping methods, this talk also provides an overview of the history of Inuit involvement in revolutionary research projects such as the Inuit Land Use and Occupancy Project and many others. Here is the link to the recording of Ezra's presentation.

Stó:lōConnect: A Digital System Supporting Stó:lō Heritage / Land / Environmental Stewardship

Dave Schaepe and Matt McGinity (Stó:lō Research & Resource Management Centre)

Stó:lōConnect is a digital data warehouse and processing system developed by the SRRMC for the purpose of land and resources stewardship in relationship to Proposed developments within Stó:lō traditional lands -from individual forestry cutblocks to major projects including the TransMountain Pipeline Expansion Project.  This system is dynamic, adaptable and allows for the assessment of relationships between Stó:lō cultural sites, and other areas of environmental concern and importance relative to proposed or actual development plan foot prints, as well as for assessment of land status and interests facilitating treaty and other forms of land-based negotiations.  Sto:lo Connect is an integral part of our engagement and consultation processes, as well as our collaborative stewardship relationship the Province.  It serves as a means of integrating a wide set of data bases including the Stó:lō heritage database.  As a web based digital tool it also facilitate communication between fifteen Stó:lō First Nation members of the S’ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance (STSA), multiple provincial agencies, federal departments, and development proponents.  This tool provides a means of implementing the Stó:lō Heritage Policy, S’ólh Téméxw Use Plan, and the STSA Consultation and Land-Use and Decision-Making Policy.  It also facilitates the development and implementation of environmental assessment, cumulative effects assessment processes, and exploration of collaborative stewardship arrangements serving to assess and address the integrity of S’ólh Téméxw (Our Land; Our World) within a Stó:lō governance framework and worldview.  This session focusses on demonstrating and discussing this digital tool. Here is the link to the recording of Dave and Matt's presentation.

TASA: A Community-facing Spatial Archive for Heritage Data

Andrew Martindale (UBC), Kisha Supernant (UofA), Stephanie Huddlestan (Metlakatla)

The Tsimshian Archaeological Spatial Archive (TASA) is a proprietary and secure digital platform to archive and share digital data on heritage between UBC and the Nine Tribes (Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla First Nations). The system stores any kind of digital object and is particularly useful for documents, photographs, and video records. It has alpha-numeric and filed hierarchy search functions, but its main advantage over other archival systems is its spatial interface. Data of any form is indexed to the relevant places on the landscape that the data are associated with. This allows users to browse without having to understand the taxonomic system or the meta-data indexing system that sorts the information. This allows people to explore data sets for which they have no prior understanding. For example, archaeologists can explore oral records and Tsimshian people can explore archaeological data more easily using TASA. As an archive, this facilitates more democratic access to information and a richer sharing of understanding across cultural distance. In this presentation, we will showcase TASA and discuss its history and features while evaluating its limitations and strengths. Here is the link to the recording of this presentation.

Voices on the Land: The Húy̓at Interactive Web Site

Dana Lepofsky (SFU), Elroy White / Q̌íx̌itasu (Heiltsuk), Mark Wunch (Green Coast Media), and Jennifer Carpenter (Heiltsuk Cultural Education Centre)

“Húy̓at: Our Voices our Land” (www.hauyat.ca) is a multimedia exploration of Húy̓at — one of a network of culturally significant places of the Heiltsuk First Nation (Central Coast, British Columbia). The website is the result of an eight year of collaboration between the Heiltsuk Nation, researchers from Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria, and Greencoast Media. We explore Húy̓at's history through interviews, archival documents, memory, language, and archaeology. These diverse kinds of knowledge and data are woven together and brought to life in 360o interactive virtual tours; videos of and direct quotes from Heiltsuk and other knowledge holders; a timeline; and archival stories, photographs, and recordings. This integrated approach aligns with Indigenous worldviews, in which connections among people and their history move fluidly across space and time. The website is a living archive and supports Heiltsuk efforts to assert rights and title to their traditional territories. Here is the link to this presentation.

Developing a Culturally Appropriate Digital Archive for Métis Archaeological Heritage

Kisha Supernant (Alberta) 

 Many Indigenous communities have little to no access to the material remains of their ancestors, due to the colonial structures that define ownership and stewardship over historical resources in Canada. For the Métis Nation, the challenges of colonial history and the dispossession of the Métis communities has meant that they are not always considered in conversations around repatriation and access to ancestral belongings. In response to the lack of access to archaeological and ethnographic data for the Métis, we are creating a digital archive of Métis archaeological materials, integrating legacy collections and newly generated data into a database that is accessible for community partners, researchers, and, where appropriate, broader audiences. Previous research into Métis archaeological sites has produced data that is 1) primarily analog rather than digital; 2) housed in often inaccessible museum collections; and 3) designed in ways that do not reflect Métis understandings of their own heritage. We are developing a database structure and framework based on relationality and Métis ways of knowing that centers families rather than belongings that will sit alongside more typical forms of archaeological categorization. Community-facing portals, data sharing and access agreements, and Métis-specific data categories are being developed with Métis knowledge holders and community members. The resulting database and interface will form the basis for a long-term goal of a complete archive of Métis archaeological and ethnographic materials from western Canada, so the Métis community has access to their own heritage and the belongings of their ancestors. Here is a link to Kisha's presentation.

Indigenous Heritage Futures: Caring for the Past in a Grand Ronde Way

Sara Gonzalez, Ian Kretzler (University of Washington) and Briece R. Edwards (The Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde)

In the language of self-determination, Indigenous archaeologies are expressions of the sovereignty of tribal nations to determine how tribal heritage will be cared for, now and into the future. U.S. Tribal Nations, however, encounter several challenges in articulating sovereignty-based approaches to archaeology and historic preservation. These include a lack of funding and, most significant, the difficulty of operating within a legal framework for heritage protection that was not designed to include the specific needs or interests of tribal nations. How then can an Indigenous nation make archaeology work for and in accordance with tribal needs and values? Using the case study of Field Methods in Indigenous Archaeology (FMIA) we evaluate how community-based research with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon contributes to a uniquely Grand Ronde way for practicing archaeology. Highlighting how FMIA builds knowledge co-production into research design, we will emphasize the strategies both the project and Grand Ronde Historic Preservation Office have used to generate, interpret, and care for Indigenous heritage data for future generations. Here is the link to this presentation.

Social Enterprise Approaches and Cloud SaaS Software for CRM, or How I Spent All My Money Building Software

Peter Evans (Trailmark)

Trailmark is a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service platform for Indigenous communities' cultural and natural resources management, with a. modest but active user community in northern and western Canada, Australia, and several communities in the US. Trailmark was started by a group of social and systems ecologists and software developers in 2014. Because of investments of vision and time from Indigenosu partners, Trailmark has evolved rapidly to suit Lands and Cultural Heritage Departments. This has been no small feat in a field dominated by aggressive multinational geospatial monopolies, on the one hand, and, on the other, by well-funded but un-scalable open-source products. In this presentation, I'll talk about the development of Trailmark's functionality as an expression of the challenges Indigenous communities face in managing cultural resources information and knowledge, and some of the challenges of developing the software in this field. - Peter Evans is a historical geographer and anthropologist and one of the founders of Trailmark Systems. Here is a link to Peter's presentation.

Enacting Indigenous Data Governance in Archaeology

Neha Gupta (UBC), Nichole Vessie (Archaeology Office, Westbank First Nation), and Nancy Bonneau (Archaeology Office, Westbank First Nation)

Archaeologists are increasingly engaging with data governance frameworks to ‘decolonize’ knowledge making in the age of big data. Data governance typically includes knowledge making, decision making and strategies for data management, preservation and curation, accessibility, quality issues and legal and policy concerns over data ownership and data security. Open Data initiatives for example, are based on FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) principles. While fruitful, these data-centric efforts obscure the impact of colonialism on the practice of science and overlook the rights of Indigenous peoples when it comes to data ownership, data sharing and knowledge creation. Seeking to re-center people in data governance, the Global Indigenous Data Alliance has developed CARE (collective benefit, authority, responsibility, ethics) principles. In this talk, we will present a collaboration between UBC Okanagan and Westbank First Nation Archaeology Office to create digital platforms that enable engagement with Syilx digital heritage and build capacity in digital tools and technologies. We examine what data governance frameworks mean for archaeology and digital heritage and how they articulate with the First Nations Information Governance Centre’s OCAP® principles. We suggest ways that archaeologists can begin to enact Indigenous data governance towards dismantling colonial structures and practice in Canadian archaeology.

Curating Continuity in Sq’éwlets: A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Community in the Fraser River Valley

Dave Schaepe (SRRMC), Kate Hennessy (SFU), Michael Blake (UBC),
Clarence Pennier (Sq’ewlets First Nation, to be confirmed), Chief Johnny (Sonny) Williams Jr. (Sq’ewlets First Nation, to be confirmed)

Sq’éwlets: A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Community in the Fraser River Valley is an online virtual exhibit produced by the Stó:lo Research and Resource Management Centre in British Columbia, Canada, and the Sqéwlets Indian Band, a First Nations community located in the heart of the Fraser River Valley (http://www.digitalsqewlets.ca/). Officially launched in early 2017, and based on several decades of community archaeology and oral history work, and the recent production of video mini-documentaries, the website presents a longterm perspective of what it means to be a Sq’éwlets person and community member today. In this presentation, we explore how this project came into being; how it came to focus on communicating a distinct Sq’éwlets worldview; how community members conceived the nature, structure, content of the website; how it mobilizes digital collections data from the Reciprocal Research Network; and, how this Sq’éwlets worldview is translated for outside audiences.

This virtual exhibit is the collaborative work of community leaders, Elders, and youth partnered with archaeologists, anthropologists, media specialists, and other content experts. It stems from a relationship formed 25 years ago by Chief Clarence Pennier and Professor Michael Blake, at a time when the ancestral site Qithyil was under threat by a logging operation. A partnership was formed in 1992 to excavate, examine, understand and protect the ancestral archaeological resources at Qithyil. In addition to representing Sq’éwlets history and worldview, the project also offers one model or method for embedding the tangible and intangible results of community-engaged archaeology into a widely accessible and engaging platform for learning and sharing. It details the historical and ongoing development of collaborative archaeology at Sq’éwlets, it models an approach to the collaborative design of multimedia for the communication of cultural heritage that is premised on mutual respect and the use of cultural protocols for this collective work. This includes the use of new online digital collections networks as generative tools for the reconnection of fragmented archaeological collections and and their potential for supporting digital curation of Indigenous cultural heritage. Further, the project is innovative is its community-based exploration of the politics of ownership of Indigenous cultural property. In the presentation, we will highlight our use of newly developed ‘Traditional Knowledge Labels’ and the way in which the project’s Sq’éwlets Advisory Committee composed definitions of labels such as Family (Ts'elhxwélmexw), Secret/Sacred (Xa:xa), and Attribution (Skwíx qas te téméxw) to reflect Sq’éwlets cultural values for the ethical circulation of knowledge online.