65th IFLA Council and General
Bangkok, Thailand, August 20 - August 28, 1999
Board Member, Association for Community Networking
In the past, the Internet has been focused on North American written English, but this is changing rapidly. The spread of low cost equipment, cheaper connectivity, and new software tools has allowed ethnic groups, minority cultures, and institutions that support diverse populations and languages to use the Internet to link diaspora groups far from home, support language preservation efforts with online web sites, multilingual databases, and experiment with digital story-telling techniques that combine traditional methods with unusual uses of new media. The social organization needed to make use of this technology is a key concern for libraries that wish to play a supporting role in these innovative efforts.
Brief version of presentation
Slides [Adobe Acrobat PDF : 2,180 KB]
Lloyd Binder, President, Kunnek Resource Development Corporation; and Research Associate, Arctic Institute of North America (AINA)
Magdalena A. K. Muir, International Energy, Environmental and Legal Services; and Research Associate, AINA
This presentation begins by introducing the Arctic Circumpolar Route, and the related project with respect to the traditional knowledge. The presentation then focuses on the role and importance of traditional knowledge in the co-management and utilization of reindeer, caribou, beluga whales and polar bears by indigenous peoples in the circumpolar Arctic region. The presentation will illustrate the ongoing use and importance of traditional knowledge in the management and sustainable use of these species.
Species such as caribou, beluga whales and polar bears are subject to co-management regimes characterized by extensive indigenous participation in Canada, US and other regions. These management regimes are designed to permit the ongoing sustainable utilization of these wildlife species by indigenous peoples. Traditional knowledge plays a key role in the management and utilization of these species, and examples will be drawn from throughout the circumpolar Arctic region. One of the key illustrations of the past, present and future role of traditional knowledge in wildlife management and utilization is the interrelationship between reindeer and caribou.
Traditional knowledge and interrelationship between reindeer and caribou Reindeer are genetically similar but not identical to caribou, and have been herded by the Saami peoples in the Scandinavian countries for hundreds of years. Reindeer, Saami reindeer herders, and Saami traditional knowledge for reindeer management were introduced into northern Canada in the 1930s under the Canadian Reindeer Project. Canada attempted to lessen the impact of the reduced availability of caribou as a result of the periodic migration of caribou away from indigenous communities who were dependent on caribou for food subsistence. They did this by introducing reindeer and, in order to effect this, by also introducing the Saami practice of reindeer herding through hired Saami reindeer herders.
Recent conversations with individuals who have worked with reindeer or who have had connections with reindeer owners and herders, have raised the concern that valuable local knowledge about reindeer and caribou is being overlooked or disregarded. Local knowledge for reindeer has not been collected in any way that it can be used to cast light on the issue of reindeer management and on the potential for conflict with caribou, especially over the carrying capacity of the range. From a caribou management perspective, the "official" records from government prior to 1970 are minimal. The observations of "reindeer people" are not now available to the wildlife co-management boards and processes to enrich the current management regimes for caribou and their range. Some informants say that the presence of reindeer in the past has been very beneficial to the continued movements of caribou into the area between Inuvik and the Arctic coast. They even speculate that if the reindeer were eradicated, there might be a reduction of the number of caribou that migrate through the area. Prior to the arrival of the reindeer, there were two decades of virtually no caribou available in the Mackenzie Delta area. Perhaps this earlier situation will recur if reindeer are removed.
It is an interesting aspect of the whole Canadian Reindeer Project that although the reindeer were introduced for the benefit of local indigenous people, including the Inuvialuit, these people had little say in the management of the project, the disposition of the reindeer, or, more importantly, the closure of the Mackenzie Delta Reindeer Grazing Reserve to the hunting of caribou. In later years, this lack of consultation and participation created tensions among local people over reindeer and caribou that are still unresolved. While official records indicate one perspective, the oral and traditional knowledge of the local environment by indigenous people and the Saami reindeer herders was not employed at critical times for either reindeer or caribou.
The example of reindeer and caribou also illustrate that the development and transfer of traditional knowledge is an ongoing process. As a result of the 1984 Inuvialuit land claims agreement, the Inuvialuit people control their land and participate jointly with government and other indigenous peoples in the management of migratory caribou. Interestingly, the Inuvialuit are also transferring information about their co-management systems to other countries, including Scandinavian countries inhabited by Saami peoples as the Saami have lost control of their own reindeer herding lands in those countries.
Unuma Sociedad Civil de Apoyo al Indígena (Venezuela)
Libraries are becoming increasingly aware of the need to find new ways and approaches to meet the knowledge, information, and recreation needs that are specific to native populations; this includes the preservation and promotion of their cultures, especially their oral traditions.
Public libraries in both Venezuela and Peru have undertaken projects of production and promotion of materials written in Indian languages. Although these projects started independently, they share several characteristics that in part account for their success.
The description of these projects and of their common traits provides models that can be used by other libraries which must give service to indigenous communities.