7.1 Two Worlds and Tricksters
Within cyberspace, not only are the spatial and temporal
barriers collapsing, so too are the inter-personal ones.
Meanwhile, however, new social barriers emerge with unique
issues relating to access, understanding, and meaning (Miah
As has been shown, cyberspace can help and hurt
Natives - it can be a Trickster. At the same time, it is the meeting
of Two Worlds, Native and non-Native, and in this virtual space a
dialogue is emerging.
Natives have a substantial presence in cyberspace,
beyond their numbers. This is partly due to early adoption of the
technology by Natives, also to the mãyã surrounding Native presence,
visited by Windegos and Wannabes, scholars and mystics, people of
all types drawn to things Native. This is nothing new, but the sheer
volume of exchanges, and the ability to create personas (avatars) in
cyberspace, make it hard to tell what is 'real.' Could it be that in
cyberspace, 'Native' is coming to mean something more (or less) than
it does on the ground? How will that filter back to the 'real'
There is a fragmentation of knowledge in the Native
cybercommunity, as there are in the real communities, and as it is
cyberspace as a whole. The 20-30,000 subscribers to almost 700
Native American newsgroups at Yahoo are at a type of virtual powwow;
but unlike a real gathering, they cannot see the whole grounds, the
territory, or the forest for the trees. Like Baudrillard's
"fascination" at the "disappearing" of information through sheer
volume ("a black hole"), there is a glut of information,
misinformation, repetition and outright illusion.
A visitor could well come away with bits and pieces
that don't add up - and pass them off as knowledge. Again, this is
nothing new, but the stakes are higher: Never before has so much
information about and from Natives, good and bad, been available to
so many people.
This super-newsgroup is unmoderated, there is no
guide. That is the difference that most breaks with tradition, where
teachers, elders and other guides pass on the knowledge through
time. In cyberspace, we see a veneer of that knowledge, all jumbled
together, again we are in Borges' Library of Babel.
Next: 7.2 The New Communities
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