News Roundup

Indigenous Tech News Roundup: Late Spring Edition

News in this edition happens to fall in two geographical regions: Australia and North America.


    • Yuendumu in the Northern Territory recently achieved a brand new digital television channel (ICTV) featuring all-local community content. “In what’s described as a major win for the remote media sector, Channel 601 (on the VAST digital platform) is a full-time channel showing locally made content by and for Aboriginal people out bush.” According to this ABC piece, it’s been five years since ICTV have broadcast a full-time television program. Lesley Johns wrote piece on why this launch is a significant positive step forward for Aboriginal Peoples of Australia.
    • On that note, PAW Media in Yuendumu is looking for a General Manager. Get your applications in by 27 May!
    • NewsMail of Australia reports on a series of beautiful and well-produced short videos, developed by Fitzroy Basin Association. The shorts show local Central Queenslanders talking about the cultural significance of different landscapes. You can watch all of the videos here.
  • I recently heard about the Yijala Yala project in Western Australia, completed in collaboration with Big hART, a media and social change organization. Based on their website, Yijala Yala  “is a long-term, multi-platform arts project based in Ieramugadu (Roebourne) focused on telling the story of the community’s culture, history and future in a range of media.” Their NEOMADS project, an interactive RPG   made in collaboration with local youth, attempts to connect stories about the land, information about mineral resources, and digital media skills to bring about positive change. Pretty awesome stuff.

    Kids with NEOmads project working with animation technology.From the Yijala Yala Facebook page.

    Kids with NEOmads project working with animation technology.From the Yijala Yala Facebook page.

  • The Yugambeh Museum, Language and Heritage Research Centre in Beenleigh launched the first ever App for a Queensland indigenous language. You can download it on the iTunes App store. Congrats!
  • This year’s National Indigenous Media Awards 10th anniversary pays tribute to the Aboriginal music group Yothu Yindi. The National Indigenous Music Awards will be held in Darwin 10 August 2013.  Aspiring indigenous musicians can apply to perform at the festival here.
  • I can’t read this because of the paywall, but apparently the Australia Film, Television and Radio School’s 11th edition of the journal Lumina recognized the rise of indigenous filmmakers. I’m not sure if they are speaking strictly within Australia or the world at large, anyone who has access and could send it along, I’d really appreciate it.


  • A Cherokee man Don Thorton, founder and president of Thornton Media Ince, has developed Talking Games, “the first commercial 3D video game that teaches language.” In this Indian Country article, he touches on important intellectual property rights issues and the power dynamics that come into play when local peoples employ outsiders to document and digitize their language: “…Indians don’t have control over their own cultural property and must rely on others.” His organization has created custom language tools for more than 170 tribes and First Nations.” (It seems their Kickstarter page has been shut down; I’m not sure why.)
  • From another Indian Country piece: Computer programmer Darrick Baxter created an iPad app to learn Ojibway, the ancestral language of the Anishnaabe people. He founded Ogoki Learning Systems Inc, a software design company that specializes in creating smartphone and tablet apps and publishing e-books that help teach Native languages. What I love about this group is that they decided to open-source their language app: “…Baxter [made] the unorthodox decision to give away his company’s invention, the source code for the Ojibway language app, for free. The code is now available on his company’s website, and anyone can download it and work to adapt it for their own native language learning.” Well, what are you waiting for?
  • The Seattle Film Festival, which wrapped up two weeks ago, is said to be one of the most indigenous-friendly film fests. Read about how native peoples “took a front seat” at the SIFF.
  • Fraser Taylor, esteemed Canadian geographer at Carleton University in Ottawa, recently received a $516,323 grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to improve computer systems used to map northern communities. His project  hopes to combat the power dynamics of “authorative” mapping practices that ignored traditional Inuit knowledge, memory, and mythology surrounding lands and waters of the Arctic. Read more about it on Nunatsiaq News.
  • The Knight Center at UT reports on the repression faced by community radio stations in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec that have broadcasted indigenous opposition to wind energy development. Having researched this conflict with anthropologist Dr. Dominic Boyer, I find the politics of energy development in Oaxaca fascinating. You can read my primer on conflicts about wind energy in the isthmus here.
  • Community radio stations are currently not recognized by the Mexican legal system and many operate without licenses. IPS News offers a good in-depth analysis of the legal framework under which community and indigenous radio operates in Mexico.

Happy May, everyone!


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