BLENDING TECHNOLOGIES TO SUSTAIN TRADITIONS
Redwood Dug-out Canoe Project (Click this link to view a slideshow of the Canoe Project.)
Linking a traditional art with modern technology, the Me’dil Canoe Project focused on the following:
1. Redwood Dug-out Canoe. Master canoe builder George Wilson (Yurok), partnered with men affiliated with Northern California tribes to transmit the art of creating a traditional old growth redwood dug-out canoe.
2. Instructional materials. To facilitate future transmission of traditional knowledge, the process was filmed and photographed to allow development of instructional materials, such as a slideshow, instructional photo book, and a DVD chronicling the canoe building process. An applied approach to development of instructional materials will generally follow a format that includes: (1) the resource in the natural world; (2) tree identification and principle characteristics; (3) tools; (4) creating the traditional item; (5) use, storage and care of the item; (6) miscellaneous considerations.
From efforts undertaken by Me’dil to date, two persistent themes have emerged which provided the motivation for this project. First, the need and interest in sharing and teaching traditional knowledge is continuous and growing. This is not likely to change because in Indian Country, creation of a traditional item is more than an art or craft, it is living one’s culture and practicing the land based values that sustain us as tribal people. Second, as a community our delivery system for transmitting traditional knowledge is severely limited, and we need new strategies. Generally tribal communities rely on a limited pool of experienced practitioners or “masters” to link with others on an individual basis. While this remains a valid and important way to transfer knowledge, in today’s dispersed world, this approach is problematic. Technology holds great promise if it is properly utilized. This project focuses on values based transmission of traditional knowledge and combines it with use of new tools and multi-media technologies to develop instructional materials that will be available as an aid to practitioners as they further develop their own skill and in turn share this knowledge with others in their families and communities.