A New Understanding of Culture and Communication:

The Impact of Technology on Indigenous Peoples

A Pathfinder by AJ Johnson

Indigenous peoples across the world have been affected by the introduction of technologies from foreign cultures for hundreds of years. Some have not dramatically changed their ways of life, while others have completely changed self-identities, entire societies and worldviews. Modern technologies, especially telecommunication and computer technologies, allow indigenous groups to participate in the larger societies and economies around them. These technologies also enable them to preserve and promote their way of life for their descendants and for our collective knowledge of human history.

This pathfinder will help researchers locate information on the Internet about modern technologies and how they are being used by indigenous groups. The main focus is on Native Americans, but examples of indigenous groups from other parts of the world and how they have adopted modern technologies has been included. The pathfinder can be found online at http://www.gslis.utexas.edu/~vlibrary/edres/pathfinders/ajohnson.

Where can I find sources that give a general overview of the affect of technology on indigenous peoples?

What uses of new technology are most beneficial to indigenous groups?

There are many different examples of beneficial uses of new technology. Several Web sites demonstrate the potential benefits that can be gained by using video conferencing technology, digitization of documents, and radio broadcast over the Internet.

What are some problems Native Americans have encountered in gaining access to telecommunications technology, and what solutions are being explored?

One of the biggest problems indigenous groups have encountered has been the "Digital Divide," which separates people who have access to modern technology from those without access. Several of the best articles follow. To find more, use an Internet search engine, such as Google, to search with the terms "Digital Divide," "Technology, and "Native American" or "Indigenous,""

How have indigenous people used new technology to preserve, promote and teach their history and culture?

Probably the most widespread use of the Internet by indigenous people has been in preserving and promoting their culture and history. Several good examples of this follow, and the pages at the end of the pathfinder contain many good links to other indigenous culture-based Web pages.

How has communication between tribe members or members of different indigenous groups changed due technology?

Telecommunication technology facilitates many different methods of communication between people. The Internet is used by indigenous groups for e-mailing, chat rooms, radio stations, video-conferencing, and simple information-gathering by looking at Web sites. Some sample sites are listed here, and each has links to other communication sites.

What are some organizations and other resources that promote utilization of technology in indigenous communities?

There are multiple organizations dedicated to this. The first sample which follows demonstrates an educational program addressing and promoting the technology needs of Native Americans, while the second focuses on indigenous peoples from other parts of the world. The last two pages are important resources because they have gathered links to many other resources and organizations onto one Web page. To browse through more organizations, simply go to one of these pages and begin exploring by clicking on the other Web pages listed. Many of the previous Web sites listed will also have a place to find more organizations like them. These can usually be found by looking for a place on the site which is usually labeled ‘Links,’ or an obvious name like ‘Other resources.’

And remember. If you need further assistance, ask a librarian.

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Annotated Bibliography
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