Bringing Indigenous Kamchatka to Google Earth

Collaborative Digital Mapping with the Itelmen Peoples

in Sibirica
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  • 1 University of Victoria bthom@uvic.ca
  • 2 University of Arizona bcolombi@email.arizona.edu
  • 3 University of Arizona tatiana.s.degai@gmail.com
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Abstract

Indigenous peoples in the Russian Far East are engaged in vibrant cultural and linguistic resurgence and revitalization through their community and regional organizations. Through the activities of one of these organizations, a computer-aided cultural mapping project was initiated in collaboration with indigenous villages along the Kamchatka Peninsula, working with youth and elders to map out the histories of special cultural places. The project utilized innovative participatory methodologies using Google Earth and related Google mapping tools, which are freely accessible and desired for use in the communities, providing an accessible, low-cost, easy-to-use computer application for detailed digital cultural mapping. This article elaborates on the use of these technologies to empower a community-based collaborative research project and reflects on critical issues in aligning community, corporate, and scholarly objectives in successful projects.

Contributor Notes

Brian Thom is an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of Victoria (http://anthropology.uvic.ca/faculty/thom). He founded UVic’s Ethnographic Mapping Lab in 2010 (http://ethnographicmapping.uvic.ca) where indigenous communities and university researchers collaborate on innovative cartographic projects. He is also research axis co-leader for Community Mapping with the Centre for Indigenous Conservation and Development Alternatives (http://cicada.world/research/themes/community-mapping/) (McGill U), and with the Canadian Conservation in Global Context (CCGC) project (U Guelph) (http://www.ccgc-iaa.ca/our-team). From 1994-1997, 2000-2010 he acted as researcher, senior advisor, and negotiator for several Coast Salish First Nations (Canada) engaged in treaty, land claims, and self-government negotiations.

Benedict J. Colombi, Ph.D. is Faculty Director of the University of Arizona’s Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs (GIDPs) and Associate Professor of American Indian Studies and Affiliate Associate Professor of the School of Anthropology, School of Geography and Development, and School of Natural Resources and Environment. He also holds a Faculty Appointment with the Institute of Environment, a center for disciplinary and interdisciplinary environmental and climate change research. He is the Past Program Chair of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), Anthropology & Environment section, Past Faculty Fellow with The Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, a Fellow with The Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA), and a recipient of a 2014 US-Russia Fulbright Scholar Award.

Tatiana Degai is PhD candidate at the University of Arizona in American Indian Studies and Linguistics, and Director of the Community House of Culture, Kovran, Russia. She is a member of the Council of Itelmens in her home community, and is actively involved with culture and language development projects. She has a Master on Arts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Anthropology and a teaching degree in foreign languages from Kamchatka State University. Her research borders on indigenous education, sociolinguistics, ethnography, indigenous activism, and revitalization.

Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

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