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19 JANUARY 2016

Skins: Designing Games with First Nations Youth

"Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), based out of Obx Labs at Concordia University in Montreal and directed by Lewis and Skawennati Fragnito, is a network of academics, artists, and technologists that encourages Indigenous participation in online culture and exploration of new media technology. The main objective of the AbTeC research network is to discover, define, and implement methods by which Indigenous people can use networked communication technology to strengthen our cultures. In an effort to overcome the economic, social, and cultural factors that influence the low rate of Indigenous participation in the making of new media and encourage Indigenous representation in digital games and virtual worlds specifically, AbTeC proposed to conduct Skins, a game/virtual world development workshop for Aboriginal youth that teaches them design programming, art, animation, and audio. ...

In conducting Skins, our goal is to encourage First Nations youth to be more than consumers of digital media; rather, we wish to show them how they themselves can be creators who can approach games with a critical perspective and from within their own cultural context. We are motivated by the possibilities of digital games and virtual environments for Indigenous peoples as well as correcting or adding to representations of Indigenous peoples in commercial games. Indigenous peoples' survival, recovery, development, and self-determination hinges on the preservation and revitalization of languages, social and spiritual practices, social relations, and arts [1]. Digital games and virtual environments, with their unique combination of story, design, code, architecture, art, animation, and sound [2], provide a rich medium though which to explore different strategies for pursuing such preservation and revitalization. For example, Thornton Media's RezWorld is a virtual environment for learning the Cherokee language. It has even been argued that the fluid, open, and networked characteristics of modern digital media make it particularly useful as a tool for Aboriginal storytelling, with Loretta Todd, Cree/Métis filmmaker and Director of the Aboriginal Media Arts Lab, suggesting 'the experience of cyberspace offers the reversal of narrative as derived from storytelling, a return to oral tradition' [3]. Furthermore, due to the radical decrease in the costs of the means of production and distribution, digital games and virtual worlds present Indigenous people with a powerful opportunity to widely (or narrowly) communicate stories in which we shape our own representation."

(Beth Aileen Lameman and Jason Edward Lewis, 2011)

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TAGS

2011Aboriginal culture • Aboriginal Media Arts Lab • Aboriginal storytelling • Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC) • Aboriginal youth • Bart Simon • Beth Aileen Lameman • CanadaCelia Pearce • Cherokee language • Christian Beauclair • community participatory project • Concordia University • Cree • cultural representations • development workshop • digital games • digital media and learning • Dogrib • First NationsFirst Nations youth • Haudenosaunee • Indigenous cultural production • Indigenous participation • Indigenous peopleindigenous peoples • Indigenous representation in digital games • Indigenous representation in virtual worlds • Iroquois • Jason Edward Lewis • Journal of Game Design and Development Education • Katherine Isbister • Ken Finney • language preservation • Loretta Todd • Louise Profeit • making new media • Metis • Mohawk • Montreal • more than consumers • Myron Lameman • Nacho Nyak Dun • Nehiraw • new media artist • new media technologiesNorth American • Obx Labs at Concordia University • oral traditionresearch network • revitalisation of languages • RezWorld • Richard Van Camp • self-determination • Skawennati Fragnito • spiritual practices • Steve Loft • Steve Sanderson • Thornton Media • traditional culturevideo game designvideo games and Indigenous peoplevirtual environmentsvirtual worlds

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 FEBRUARY 2009

The Significance of the Frontier in American History

"American social development has been continually beginning over again on the frontier. This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, this expansion westward with its new opportunities, its continuous touch with the simplicity of primitive society, furnish the forces dominating American character. The true point of view in the history of this nation is not the Atlantic Coast, it is the Great West. Even the slavery struggle, which is made so exclusive an object of attention by writers like Professor von Holst, occupies its important place in American history because of its relation to westward expansion.

In this advance, the frontier is the outer edge of the wave –– the meeting point between savagery and civilization. Much has been written about the frontier from the point of view of border warfare and the chase, but as a field for the serious study of the economist and the historian it has been neglected.

What is the frontier? It is not the European frontier –– a fortified boundary line running through dense populations. The most significant thing about it is that it lies at the hither edge of free land. In the census reports it is treated as the margin of that settlement which has a density of two or more to the square mile. The term is an elastic one, and for our purposes does not need sharp definition. We shall consider the whole frontier belt, including the Indian country and the outer margin of the 'settled area' of the census reports. This paper will make no attempt to treat the subject exhaustively; its aim is simply to call attention to the frontier as a fertile field for investigation, and to suggest some of the problems which arise in connection with it.

In the settlement of America we have to observe how European life entered the continent, and how America modified and developed that life and reacted on Europe. Our early history is the study of European germs developing in an American environment. Too exclusive attention has been paid by institutional students to the Germanic origins, too little to the American factors.

Now, the frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick; he shouts the war cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails."
(Frederick Jackson Turner, 1893)

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TAGS

1893 • Americanization • becoming • Cherokee • civilization • colonisationconflictdemocracydivine destinydivine providence • expansion • expansionism • Frederick Jackson Turner • frontierfrontier mythideologyIndigenousIroquoisliminalmanifest destinymoral dignityNative Americans • personal enfranchisement • political ideologyprovidenceromantic sublimesettlementterritoryThe WestWesternwilderness

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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