A leader in traditional land mapping says any cultural research in Indigenous communities must not settle for anything less than quality and perfection.
April 29, 2010: Volume 37 39, Page A8
Terry Tobias, author of the new book, Living Proof: the Essential Data-Collection Guide for Indigenous Use and Occupancy Map Surveys, held a two-day workshop at Confederation College in Thunder Bay April 22-23.
The workshop focused on learning the best research techniques for traditional land use and occupancy mapping studies.
Tobias said the reason for the workshop is because he feels when cultural research is done in Indigenous communities, especially mapping projects, the lack of quality standards fails to serve the best interests of First Nation communities.
The discipline of constructing land use and occupancy maps was started about 40 years ago by Aboriginal communities in order to map the communities and determine use of their traditional resources and also the occupancy of their landscape, he said.
“There’s been a huge amount of this type of research being done in Canada over the past 40 years,” Tobias said. “But most of the research product is sub-standard and disappoints the reasons and the objectives of the Indigenous communities who started the research in the first place.”
Living Proof and Tobias’ workshops are aimed at improving the standards of research methods in order to produce excellent research for land use and occupancy mapping projects for First Nation communities.
Jutta Horn, a Missanabie Cree First Nation band councilor who attended Tobias’ workshop, said she feels there’s been a missing component in any mapping done in Missanabe Cree territory.
“Terry’s take on it (mapping) compliments the belief of the First Nations in ‘how do you map a value?’” Horn said.
Attending Tobias’ workshop has confirmed Horn’s feeling that any work in First Nations is not only crucial, but must be done right.
“The work that needs to be done by First Nations is absolutely necessary because land tenure has been an issues and it always has been for the last 150 years in our communities,” Horn said. “So how best to demonstrate our occupancy and our historical ties to those lands unless we maps those things correctly.”
Tobias, who lives in Vancouver, B.C. said the workshops were part of an unconventional book tour. During an 11-day period he traveled between Winnipeg and St. John’s doing full two-day workshops, public lectures and radio interviews to promote his new book. “It’s a very busy working trip,” Tobias said.
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