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Indians in Cyberspace
by Mike MacDonald

Who is
by Cheryl L'Hirondelle

First Nations in Cyberspace
by Mike Patterson

Image Credit: NASA JPL-Caltech E. Churchwell University of Wisconsin


First Nations in Cyberspace: Two Worlds and Tricksters - Where the Forest meets the Highway

by Mike Patterson

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3.3 Missing the Mainstream

These teachings and sentiments were heard far and wide in the early to mid-90s, and are still fundamental to Native views. But we are almost finished with the UN's International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, and these messages are no more mainstream than they were in 1994, at the beginning of the UN's Decade of the World's Indigenous People:

On Thursday, December 8 I sat in the vast and eerily empty press balcony at the United Nations' General Assembly Hall in New York and observed the opening ceremonies for the UN's "Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1995-2004)" There were two other reporters on hand: one from Sami Radio in Norway, and a print guy from Kenya. Rumor has it that a Newsweek ace was roaming the halls. Over the course of the morning we heard predictable ‑‑ and perhaps promising ‑‑ speeches from Official representatives of the UN, and some of its member states.

The Officials said they got it ‑‑ that they now realized indigenous people have a close relation with the Earth, and that their ecological knowledge, democratic traditions, and agricultural systems could play an important role in sustainable development, especially when partnered with some of the latest technological tools. They said they got it that indigenous peoples have been dispossessed and subjected to genocide as a consequence of "modernization's thirst for energy, minerals, timber, farmland and living space..."

But talk is talk. "Deeds," the native people responded. "We've had words for centuries. We are asking for deeds." This theme of 'deeds not words' arose in the late afternoon through six "unofficial" presentations by speakers representing not just various indigenous communities around the world, but networks of indigenous communities...

It struck me as predictable... that the indigenous speakers at the UN from North and Central America received in the aftermath not a column inch of news anywhere I could find...

The thrust of the indigenous talk at the UN on Thursday, and in general among many traditional peoples, concerned basic stuff that can seem, to some, tiresome: human rights, respect for the environment, freedom of religion, respect for differences. They talked not of ethnic exclusivity, or of a desire to break up the world's nation states ‑‑ as is happening worldwide ‑‑ but of their desire for meaningful and respectful inclusion into the benefits of the Nation States that have arisen on the lands where they live. They say they have something important to contribute, as well as to gain.

The traditional native voices said that they have learned something about living close to the earth in this Hemisphere ‑‑ and around the globe ‑‑ over the last 30,000 years or so, and that if finally we would just listen, we might learn something that would help us all out.

‑ Pax Vobiscum,
Steven McFadden for The Wisdom Conservancy
(McFadden 1994).

3.4 Conclusions

There is a pan-Indian call for a return to traditional values and teachings, and the Seventh Fire prophecy is now known across Canada. It is part of the movement toward self-determination, and part of the philosophical underpinning of young Native sentiment today. It forms a basis for Native action, on the ground and in cyberspace. As further sections will show, these traditional Native teachings are very much alive in cyberspace today.

Next: Chapter Four: Moccasin Telegraph

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