Playing “Indians”: Indigenous Adventures in the Digital World “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are” – Thomas King “Stories are the key to the endless oratory, the teachings, and the knowledge of our people. It’s not all we are, but when we remember the story, the flood of knowledge locked behind it is let loose.” – Lee Maracle Whether one agrees with Thomas King’s proposition that stories habit us constantly, or Lee Maracle’s gentle rebuttal, which reminds us that stories need to be recalled and acknowledged to wield their power, there is little argument against their importance. No matter our culture or affiliations, stories … Continue reading Playing “Indians”: Indigenous Adventures in the Digital World
by Laurence Butet-Roch
Lewis, J. E. (2014). A Better Dance and Better Prayers: Systems, Structures, and the Future Imaginary in Aboriginal New Media. In S. Loft & K. Swanson (Eds.), Coded Territories: Tracing Indigenous Pathways in New Media Art. Calgary: U of Calgary P, 2009.
Having founded a network of academics, artists and technologists concerned with figuring out how to infuse Indigenous ways of knowing into virtual environments (AbTec) – computer games, websites, social networks, and the likes – with his partner Skawennati Fragnito in the mid-aughts, Jason Edward Lewis, in his contribution to the recent opus on contemporary Indigenous media practices, first seeks to identify how the Western bias shapes the current digital ecosystem. He observes that the representations of Indigenous characters in online environments perpetuate existing assumptions and stigmas about the past and present of Indigenous communities. So much so that it makes it hard for members of those groups to imagine themselves existing in these new virtual spaces. This is deeply troubling to Lewis, since he claims that failing to envision what the Indigenous presence will look like in hundreds of years could lead to the erasing of these nations. To make his case more potent, he quotes the Pulitzer Prize winning Kiowa author, N. Scott Momaday: “We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves. Our best destiny is to imagine, at least, completely, who and what, and that we are. The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined” (as cited in Lewis, 2009, p.58).