Dreamcatcher Informatics: Information Technology to Support Indigenous Peoples

This post is about a project that hasn’t quite finished incubating, but looks very interesting from the perspective of community memory, cultural mapping, and land use consultation. What follows is cobbled together from different sources…

The Dreamcatcher Informatics project

In 2009-2010, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport recommended the Dreamcatcher Informatics project (under the auspices of the Department of Environment and Resources Studies at the University of Waterloo) for funding under the Creative Communities Prosperity Fund – a $50,000 grant. Here is the project description from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport website:

This project brings together a team of researchers from the university, the Centre for Community Mapping and two Ontario Aboriginal communities. They will build a functioning web-based system with the working title Dreamcatcher Informatics. This system will provide specific knowledge on implementing cultural mapping for First Nation communities. It will support community-based mapping services that empower Aboriginal cultural mapping and community planning and support remote land use consultation between community, agency and development proponents with a premise of sustainable community economic development.

In addition, the project will lead to the preparation of Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation cultural mapping and the development and implementation of a cultural resources plan as part of a broader community-based land use planning process. Both processes will ensure the proper interpretation and application of Traditional Knowledge and western science in cultural preservation in the face of resource developmental processes. Ultimately, the project is expected to generate a useful prototype that other Aboriginal communities across Ontario can modify. The Fort Albany First Nation will introduce and pilot the resulting work.

Scholarship about Dreamcatcher Informatics

Below is a 2011 draft paper by Cowan, McGarry, Moran, McCarthy, and King titled “Information Technology to Support Indigenous Peoples”. Here is the abstract:

Indigenous peoples face challenges retaining their traditional knowledge and culture and in negotiating with governments and proponents of resource exploitation, settlement and infrastructure development on their traditional lands. This paper outlines the issues faced by indigenous peoples and describes the Dreamcatcher software system. Dreamcatcher is a powerful web‐based information system containing interactive mapping tools, mediated social networks, geo‐spatial consultation services and a security model that can support indigenous peoples in the endeavours just described. Interactive mapping is a key tool since landscapes valued by indigenous peoples can be integral elements of indigenous cultural identity.

Use the icons to navigate… To see the document full-screen or print it, use the far right icon or click here.

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The Dreamcatcher website

The Dreamcatcher site is currently being developed here.

At the time this post was published, the database was populated with only a handful of items. Below is a screen capture:

Dreamcatcher Development

The following 2011 presentation paper entitled “Land Use Consultation Services for First Nations, Dreamcatcher Geomatics Beta Service Development” by McGarry, Cowan, Alencar, and McCarthy, gives a brief but detailed over of the project. The conclusion indicates that February of 2012 would mark the beginning of the testing period with the Mississaugas of the New Credit and Fort Albany First Nations. I look forward to seeing the project move into beta – and will post again when more information becomes available.

Use the icons to navigate… To see the document full-screen or print it, use the far right icon or click here.

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Links of interest

Dreamcatcher development site: http://www.comap.ca/fnmaps1/
Centre for Community Mapping: http://www.comap.ca/
Fort Albany First Nation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Albany,_Ontario
Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation: http://www.newcreditfirstnation.com/