Over the years, technology has revolutionised our world and daily lives. From GPS to Computers to smartphones, technology has put unique tools and resources at our fingertips, making our lives easier, faster, better, and more fun. But what about Tribal Peoples? Or as sometimes called First Peoples, Native Peoples, and Indigenous Peoples, these original inhabitants with their 4,000 unique languages constitute about 6.2% of the world's population. Have their lives been affected by technology? And if yes, how?
It is not a secret that Indigenous peoples are pragmatic by nature; especially if an innovation makes life easier, more comfortable, or provides other desired benefits, they are as likely as anyone else to incorporate it into their lives. When such changes are of their choosing, they comfortably adapt their cultures to them. And Technology has gained its way to Indigenous people through many organisations dedicated to the utilisation of Technology in Indigenous communities.
Nowadays, Indigenous peoples utilise video conferencing technology, digitisation of documents, and radio broadcast over the Internet. The majority of these technologies are used to preserve and promote Indigenous culture, tradition, history, and human rights advocacy. Further, The Internet is used by various Indigenous groups for email, chat rooms, radio stations, video-conferencing, and simple information-gathering by browsing Web sites or exercising their rights as citizens.
First Nations Communities in Canada.
First Nation, Traditional Canadian culture.
They have recently adopted Internet voting to facilitate participation in votes, such as general assemblies for community ratification of constitutional provisions.
On the other hand, educational programs promoting and addressing the technology needs of Indigenous peoples or through governments and institutions who have launched dedicated Programmes and collaborated with tribes and technology accessible to indigenous people in their habitat, many to overcome some challenges they face on the day to day lives.
Indigenous Tribes in Brazil
Atlantic Forest in Brazil
The Brazilian government launched a project in collaboration with the Amazon conservation team and four tribes to map ten million acres of the tribes’ ancestral lands.
The regions mapped included the Tumucumaque Indigenous Park and the Rio Paru d’Este Indigenous Land, covering areas occupied by the Apalia, Wayana, Tirio, and Kaxuyana tribes. The mapping process involved consulting tribal elders on their traditional knowledge of the heavily forested areas and its place names, and Global Positioning System (GPS) technology was used to plot the boundaries.
These four tribes will now be able to organise better and develop their resources. They have been careful to document hunting trails and holy places, while not revealing the location of coveted medicinal plants. And The map also proves that the four tribes occupy the entire territory, which will help them fight against gold miners on their land.
The Nenets in Siberia
Reindeer caravan in search of pasture, Nenetsia
Another case of implementing GPS technology took place with the Nenets in Siberia. The tribe's main activity is reindeer herding in northern Russia's challenging regions. Shepherd families have to frequently travel long distances to find pastures and communication between different groups through their online devices, facilitating their easy location and exchanging information in case of emergency. This new tool has led to a clear improvement in their quality of life without affecting their most ancient customs.
To sum up, in today's technologically rich and dependent world, indigenous peoples fully understand new technologies' importance. Access on par with other people and groups protects indigenous peoples from subordination by those with greater technological might. It opens doors to new opportunities to meet their needs and realise their aspirations. In today's highly competitive world, it helps to level a playing field that is still fogged and swampy in the indigenous zone but clear and dry where Westerners play.
But unlike the new technologies of years gone by, today's technological innovations are centred on knowledge, information, and communication. They provide the means needed to gather and act on new ideas, share ideas and ways of doing things with others, and record past and present ways to not forget in the future. Whereas guns once helped indigenous peoples fend off incursions that stripped them of aspects of their identity, today's technology provides indigenous peoples' means to reinforce and assert those identities.
Nomadic Tribe Team
Cover photo, Group of Masai, iStock.com/borchee