MEDIA AND TRADITIONAL DRAMATURGY IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST OF NATIVE NORTH
Adam Fish M.A.
Landscape & Artefact
for publication in Moving Images, Museums, Heritage Sites: Archaeology and
National Contentions, edited by Peter Allen. University College of London
Americans of the Columbia Plateau use the World Wide Web (WWW) to articulate
their identities and histories. The phrase “indigenous digital media”
(IDM) describes all forms of visual and aural media used by Native Americans to
create, claim, and display their intellectual property in a digital environment.
with all WWW authoring software are options for video and sound. Digital
aural/visual recording devices are increasingly affordable to tribal historic
preservation programs on the Columbia Plateau. Emergent technologies are shaping
the direction of tribal public history.
Schitsu’umsh (Coeur d’Alene), the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla
Reservation (CTUIR), and the Nimíipuu (Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho) create WWW
multimedia modules dedicated to history, archaeology, environmental justice,
language preservation, hypertext cartographies, and expressive arts (Coeur
d’Alene 2002a, 2002b, 2002c, 2002d, 2002e, 2002f, 2002g, 2002h; Confederated
Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation 2003; Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho 2001a, 2001b,
2001c, 2001d, 2001e) [i].
current tribal WWW modules, indigenous historiographical performance, indigenous
digital media, and hypermedia archaeology are in trialogue. Each narration
employs polysensuality, phenomenologies of travel, and interactivity to embrace
the reader as a co-storyteller, networker, and author. Participants replace
spectators. The communication tactic and content of these hypermedias undermine
visual imperalism, linear histories, and scientific archaeology while claiming
cyber-sovereignty for Columbia Plateau tribes in the “dot-commons” (Center
for Digital Democracy 2005).
is a contemporary cultural consolidation rooted in indigeneity. As social
praxis, tribalism is a renaissance; an empowerment that emerges from perceived
loss of traditional knowledge in the wake of colonization and modernity. In so
many ways, tribalism is a reaction to the cultural dislocations and forced
confederations incurred by 19th and 20th century modernism
(McNickle 197). Unlike nationalism, tribalism has observable origins in
geographically extant cultural traditions. A ‘tribe’
is a colonial construct. ‘Tribalism’ is rooted in tradition while affirming
contemporary tribal identity (Mafeje
Southall 1970). “Indigenous digital media” (IDM) is a vehicle for 21st
new modes of historiography, biography, and archaeography in endeavors of
tribalism. IDM presents, preserves, and projects traditional cultural values
across the WWW. Tribalism is about resiliency and resurgence. IDM and tribalism
conflate into an adaptive and resistant form of “innovative traditionalism”
(Ginsberg 2002: 54). As tradition mixes with new media, participatory,
polysensual, and narrative performances follow. Several 21st century
tribalist projects are supported by IDM, including: claiming, storytelling,
celebrating survivance, “indigenizing,” intervening, revitalizing,
networking, representing, envisioning, reframing, naming, creating, and sharing
(Smith 2001: 143-157).
people embrace and exploit new communicative technologies to legislate for
sovereignty in the control of their identities, histories, and representations.
Throughout the world, indigenous peoples use videography to personalize,
magnify, and vitalize the politics of survivance.
employ modern visual media to further public awareness of treaty rights, land
claims, hunting and fishing rights, religious freedom, language preservation,
repatriation of artifacts, and reburial of ancestral remains [Prims 2002:
people use video cameras and computers in
traditional activities with elders; creating works to teach young people
literacy in their own languages; engaging with dominant circuits of mass media
and projecting political struggles through mainstream as well as alternative
arenas; communicating among dispersed kin and communities on a range of issues;
using video as legal documents in negotiating with states; presenting videos on
state television to assert their presence televisually within national
imaginaries; and creating award winning films [Ginsberg, Abu-Lughod, and Larkin
WWW module created by the Schitsu’umsh (Coeur
d’Alene Tribe) illustrates the most salient uses of IDM.
The Schitsu’umsh are a
Columbia Plateau Native American tribe whose traditional territories have been
in eastern Washington, north central Idaho, and western Montana since time
immemorial. In 2002, the module was conceived, written, designed, and created by
a committee of elders, tribal members, technology experts, and anthropologists
under the aegis of the Lifelong
Learning Online Project Committee. The module is the intellectual and physical
property of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe[ii]
d’Alene Tribe 2002f: Setting
the Stage: Acknowledgements and Review Process).
similar to the Schitsu’umsh module exist for the Umatilla (Confederated
Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation 2003),
and Nimíipuu (Nez Perce Tribe 2001a) who exercise comparative control over IDM
production and content.[iii]
Schitsu’umsh and Nimíipuu modules employ a wide range of medias, including
video interviews, traditional songs, tribal dances[iv],
oral mythologies, language lessons[v],
linguistic translations, and interactive maps. The Schitsu’umsh, offering
almost six hours of digital video, capitalize on the hypermedium to express
their stories, histories, dances, perspectives, and arts in culturally specific
ways. The Schitsu’umsh narrator’s “sincere desire” is to impart “Hnkhwelkhwlnet…our
way of life in the world” to the participant so they may “better appreciate
the world as if through Schitsu’umsh eyes” (Coeur d’Alene Tribe 2002h: Welcome
to Schitsu'umsh Country).
on both traditional lifeways and contemporary politics appear throughout the
Schitsu’umsh module. Viewers can learn about traditional gathering practices,
spiritual concepts, and dancing forms. They can also see and hear the
Schitsu’umsh Tribal Chairman meditate on the responsibility of the
Schitsu’umsh to educate future generations.
prominently are indigenous perspectives on tribal sovereignty including
reflections on Manifest Destiny, missionaries, allotments, wars, the
establishment of the Reservation, cultural resource management, and future
narrator of the Schitsu’umsh module asks, “Why do the oral traditions offer
you an indispensable and unique pathway into the lives and culture of the
Schitsu'umsh people?” (Coeur d’Alene 2002a: Approaching
the Oral Traditions: Preparations).
It could be similarly asked, why is IDM a method analogous to oral traditions in
this “unique pathway” to the Schitsu’umsh? For three reasons oral
histories can be “effectively, appropriately, and authentically told using the
Internet” (Frey 2001: 1): Digital multimedia is aural and visual. The viewer
is a participant in creating non-sequential and personalized pathways through
stories. And, most importantly, like archaeological sites in traditional
territories, the intellectual information remains the product and property of
the Schitsu’umsh, Nimíipuu, and the CTUIR (Confederated Tribes of the
Umatilla Indian Reservation 2003: The
Umatilla, Walla Walla, & Cayuse).
the Columbia Plateau, no historical analysis of the major brand of
anthropological media that preceded IDM, the documentary ethnographic film, has
ever been written (Fish 2004b). The ethnographic films depicting Columbia
Plateau culture likely follow the trend exhibited on the Northwest Coast. The
tribespeople are supporting characters as opposed to technologists and producers
(Morris 1994). They are the objects, not the subjects, of the films. The modules
created by Schitsu’umsh and Nimíipuu tribes represent the first emergence of
indigenous moving-picture historiography on the Columbia Plateau.
history is “grounded in two interrelated systems of communication that predate
the written word: drawing and speaking” (Howe 2003: 162). Vizenor agrees,
“tribal narratives are heard and remembered in pictofictions and pictomyths
without closure” (1994: 100). Traditional modes of communication were never
textual. They are performative and oratory. Symbolic and iconographic drawing,
painting, and etching were authoritative means of communication. The
relationship between performer and participating audience was heavily emphasized
by pictographic and performative modes. The hypermedia and emergent post-textuality
of the WWW enables communications that are analogous to these traditional forms.
WWW is a place for interactive performance. This bodes well for Native
Americans, whose traditional form of historiography is performative. In the
Native American past, major forms of communication were audio, haptical, visual,
and performative. A non-textual people collectively remember historical events
and origin narratives in oral traditions, landscapes, and embodied movements.
Oral traditions and the WWW conflate the aural, visual, spatial, and corporeal.
performances exploited place,
time, and other elements such as feasting, music, drumming, dancing and smoking
to produce a multisensorial environment in which participants could experience
with all their senses the historical moment. Conflating all trajectories
containing sacred information and sensuality was intended to deeply encode
traditional knowledge through the memory-etching powers of profound sensuality
into the participants [Howe 2002: 166-167].
the Columbia Plateau, raconteurs use multisensual tactics and the spectators are
During the narrative
performance, listeners periodically respond by saying aloud, i···!
[ee!] ‘yes’ (Jacobs 1934-1937, 1:x; Teit 1912a: 349) or as among the Pend
d’Oreille, giving the hand sign of hooking the index finger and drawing it
toward you as a sign for ‘getting it’ (Clarence Woodcock, personal
communication 1991) [Frey and Hymes 1998: 587].
raconteur is dramatic, compelling, playful, and animate with intonation, pauses,
gesture, rhythms, and references in a ritual performance (Frey and Hymes 1998:
594, 595, 598). In hypermedia archaeologies there are entrances, exits,
dead-ends, thresholds, crises, incidents, interruptions, repetitions,
discontinuities, incoherence, and integrations (Pearson and Shanks 2001: 125).
from an indigenous tribal perspective must be presented in a format that can
accommodate multimedia data and structure it in a nonsequential
order [2002: 167 emphasis mine].
of being both multisensual and nonsequential, digital multimedia is suitable for
a graphic and oratorical history (Howe 2002: 167). The WWW is one
representational mode that has the capacity to transcend ocularcentric
textuality and move towards an iconographic, speaking, participatory, and
of tribal histories often depart from standard scripts—spontaneously
fortifying their performances with anecdotes, asides, and commentary. More than
whimsical digressions, these tangents modernize the traditional history by
making them pertinent to contemporary people and the issues they face. A
political problem, insight, passing raven, or wind gust may trigger the
raconteur. A fugue results, integrating the traditional wisdom into the social
present for the participating people. In this way, the story is publicly
modified. This integrates the past inside the present, making new the
traditional wisdom. As Vizenor explains,
the oral tradition, the mythic origins of tribal people are creative
expressions, original eruptions in time, not a mere recitation or a recorded
narrative in grammatical time. The teller of stories is an artist, a person of
wit and imagination, who relumes the diverse memories of the visual past into
the expressions and metaphors of the present [Vizenor
interpretive archaeologist is also a raconteur making “juxtapositions and
interpenetrations of the historical and the contemporary, the political and the
poetic, the factual and the fictional, the discursive and the sensual”
(Pearson and Shanks 2001: 159). Open performativity, subject to adaptation in
the present, is akin to the non-sequential digressions that are available to WWW
only a text resource at its inception in 1994, broadband and inexpensive digital
visual and aural recorders accompany the WWW in some areas of the United States.
In this move towards pictorial and performative media, the WWW, like tribal
histories, is grounded in “drawing and speaking” (Howe 2003: 162). They are
both integrative. Frey states that, “Should the ee’s
cease, so too the story” (Frey 2001: 6). He correlates the vocal gesture “ee!”
[i•••!] with the “clicking of the mouse to assure interactivity” (Frey
2001: 9). While the ‘click’ is more authoritarian, a new engagement emerges
as the participant works with the raconteur through the non-human technological
world (Haraway 1991, 1997). The IDM modules exhibit how traditional oral and
performative tactics are made new.
WWW offers tribal designers of digital histories a forum where ancestral
communicative tactics can be curated and created. The WWW allows traditional
historians to foray into the “dot-commons” without losing much semiotic or
persuasive integrity (Center for Digital Democracy 2004). Tribes with a
multimedia web-presence are creating historiography more akin to traditional
forms than ever before.
storyscapes and digital ecologies
storyscapes, Nimíipuu ethnographer Archie Finney said in 1934, there is the
“feeling as a moving current all the figures and the relationships that
belong to the mythbody” (Finney 1934: x in Frey and Hymes 1998: 595-596). One
Colville elder always ends her stories by saying, “…and then I came back.”
Participants travel with the raconteur. Life moves. A couple of lifelong
students of Columbia Plateau mythology conclude, “each performance [is]
different” (Frey and Hymes 1998: 599).
identity, like all social being, is in processual flux, making it a phenomenon
difficult to quantify with static archaeological chronologies ill adapted to
rationalize either mind or agency
(Leone 1982; Dobres and Robb
2000). Vizenor explains, “tribal consciousness would be a minimal existence
without active choices, the choices that are heard in stories and mediated in
names; otherwise, tribal identities might be read as mere simulations of
remembrance” (1994: 56). Between orations and communities, tribal identity
adapts to the present. Stories form the vehicle for the embodiment and
historiography of tribal identity, as it is and as it changes.
is a recurring metaphor for storytelling and cyberculture. Columbia Plateau
Native Americans speak of “traveling the trails and exploring a territory”
or of “paddling a canoe on the rivers of the myth world” (Frey 2001: 6). We surf
the ‘net. In both situations, “the human is enveloped within a dynamic
and on-going text, a text in process, and thus within a world that is emerging,
that is being brought forth, that is in the making” (Frey 2001: 6; see also
approach and vision of the viewer is of supreme concern to the Schitsu’umsh.
They state that “how” one learns from a foreign culture is as important as
“what” one learns (Coeur d’Alene 2002b: Approaching this Module:
Pedagogy). This is a truth for the Schitsu’umsh and a trope of postmodernism.
Schitsu’umsh capitalize on the different worldviews, effectively contrasting
in the multimedia medium, between indigenous creator and participating viewer.
They invite the participant to travel and make choices from an embodiment of hnkhwelkhwlnet,
the Schitsu’umsh worldview. This interaction between self-examination and
action creates the ecology for plurality, reflexivity, and the opportunity to
travel on the First Peoples path.
to Columbia Plateau history, the First Peoples lived before human people but
prepared the world for the human people. A challenge of the Schitsu’umsh
module is to “stay on the trails established by the First Peoples” (Coeur
d’Alene 2002b: Approaching this Module: Pedagogy). The narrator warns that the
viewers’ perspective may make it difficult to follow the First People. The
narrator asks the viewer, “before you take a look at us take a closer look at
yourself” (Coeur d’Alene 2002b: Approaching this Module: Pedagogy). So,
while the environment of the WWW encourages visitors to exercise their
discretion and liberty, the participant is challenged to follow the faint but
extant trail of the First Peoples in the module. “Heart knowledge” as
opposed to head knowledge, as Schitsu’umsh spiritual leader Cliff SiJohn
articulates in three video clips, will help the viewer navigate the First
Peoples’ trail (Cliff SiJohn, Coeur d’Alene 2002a: Approaching
the Oral Traditions: Preparations).
All of this reflexivity and introspection is designed to invite the viewer to be
a participant in the Schitsu’umsh culture.
and digital communications share the metaphor of travel. The term
“tamastslikt” means “interpretation” in the Umatilla’s Sahaptin
dialectic. In a video clip, Martha Franklin uses the term “tamastslikt” to
describe the journeyer’s path through the Umatilla module. Franklin says,
“tamastslikt, the word in itself, is an Indian word and it’s a full
word, it doesn’t mean just to tell you what happened…So you need to come in
here and to examine, to look to turn, to examine. And then the word becomes
full” (Martha Franklin, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Umatilla, Walla Walla, & Cayuse).
The word tamastslikt poses an open-ended and engaged hermeneutical method
for approaching the Umatilla module. The multiple choices possible as one
navigates the WWW help make the word and praxis of tamastslikt possible
(Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation 2003: The
Umatilla, Walla Walla, & Cayuse).
a video clip from the Schitsu’umsh module, Cliff SiJohn, sitting near a sacred
sweat lodge, instructs, “We have no books to give you, we have no pencils to
hand out. What I want you to do is to sit back and open your heart” (Cliff
SiJohn, Coeur d’Alene 2002a: Approaching
the Oral Traditions: Preparations).
Franklin of the Umatilla and SiJohn of the Schitsu’umsh, and raconteurs in
general, request that the participant be available and curious. This request is
particularly possible to reply to on WWW modules that enable visitors to explore
diverse, multisensual paths with personalized, multilinear connections.
material culture of the print-based text creates hegemonies of chronological and
linear historiography tending to a similarly monological phenomenology for
readers, something that is undermined by postprocessual archaeologists (Tilley
1994), New Western historians (Limerick 1987, 2001; White 1991, 1995;),
indigenous archaeologists (Nicholas 2001, 2003, 2004), and site-specific artists
(Kaye 2000). Viewers of WWW modules are encouraged to choose from a range of
adventures amongst tribally designed sites and fields. Personally mediated links
and relationships are created on the WWW. These links allow the connection of
disparate subjects and non-temporal movement through history as participants
link from text-to-video-to-audio-to-animation. Participants select amongst a
heterogeneous yet organized ecology of “sites.” Barthes describes hypertext
when he writes,
the networks are many and
interact, without any of them being able to surpass the rest, this text is a
galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds, it has no beginning, it is
reversible, we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can be
authoritatively claimed to be the main one [1975: 5 in Olsen 1990: 185].
and space are obsolete. Atemporal horizontal palimpsests are explored in the
production of experiential history.
is a storytelling craft (Joyce 2002: 17). Some forms of postprocessual
archaeology stress the role of archaeologist as raconteur. The targets of
fieldwork and representation of these archaeologies are intertextuality,
heteroglossia, polyphony, and multvocality (Bakhtin 1981, 1984; Joyce 2002: 10,
11, 75; Kristeva 1986). Like traditional oration and performance, postprocessual
archaeography benefits from the polyvocality of hypermedia (Lopiparo and Joyce
2003: 194). In the IDM modules as in hypermedia archaeology, “the reader
chooses to follow particular links, he or she creates a unique juxtaposition of
primary data and secondary analyses shaping an experience that, while
constrained by the sources, is irreducibly unique” (Lopiparo and Joyce 2003:
194). While “irreducibly unique” is presumptuous and experiments in
hypermedia archaeology are rare, digital technologies and dialogic theories
benefit the assembling of literary, artifactual, and historical elements under
the aegis of the archaeological. In these productions, archaeology will
look more like the network of features in a highly stratified excavation profile
or the Schitsu’umsh module than a technical cultural resources management
And in this archaeological
cyborg world we will have to talk a great deal of ‘might and ‘if’, of
slippages and fluidity, of mess and what is missing, of gaps and bridges between
different worlds, of time breaking up, moments lost and regained. We will need
our dramaturgical imagination [Pearson and Shanks 2001: 101].
allows us to perceive and produce replications that model both the physicality
and phenomenology of the archaeological.
emphasize remaining ocularcentric, the WWW is a tool that is more participatory
than the printed text. This is coterminous with the evanescence of traditional
storytelling and the archaeological field act. Joyce encourages archaeologists
to conceive of their work as an analog of the storyteller’s craft (2002). It
might not be premature to invite the phrase “blurred genre” to describe the
character of IDM, hypermedia archaeology, and oral traditions (Tilley 1994: 1).
In IDM, hypermedia archaeology, and oral traditions there is a blending of
memory techniques, spatial linkages, and polysensual representation. Temporality
in all three epistemologies is networked into multilinear and personalized
experiences. These practices are not limited to alphabetical texts and static
eclipses the ocularcentrism and textuality of academic and professional
archaeological representation. The participatory ethos, as opposed to the
spectatorism of televised media, is unique to WWW media and ancient performance.
The tribes are some of the first indigenous people to exploit the WWW to
communicate more organically and they are uniquely prepared by immemorial years
of practice to perform their knowledge in this medium of the present.
Schitsu’umsh narrator states, “In the act of storytelling the creation time
is re-witnessed and re-traveled, and brought forth into this time. The stories
that occurred in a distant past are continued into the present” (Coeur
d’Alene 2002a: Approaching the Oral Traditions: Preparation). The Nimíipuu
narrator states, “In the act of re-telling these ancient accounts, and
especially when told in the Nimíipuu language, the listeners are made
participants of the unfolding events” (Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho 2001d: Oral
Traditions Along the Clearwater and Snake Rivers). Cliff SiJohn says to the WWW
viewer, “it is time for you to listen, sit back, prepare yourself for you are
going to take a walk with the Coeur d’Alene Indian people through the real
world of the Indian people” (Cliff SiJohn, Coeur d’Alene 2002a: Approaching
the Oral Traditions: Preparation). If the WWW can coax visitors to re-witness
the “creation time…through the real world of the Indian people” what of
the specificity of place and time emphasized in Columbia Plateau oral
Schitsu’umsh explain: “the accounts of Coyote and all the meanings and
significances, all the teachings, are thus embedded in the river beds and
mountain ridges” (Coeur d’Alene Tribe 2002e: Heart Knowledge: Listening to
the Ancestors). Native American history is not a portable paper book that can be
read or experienced anywhere. Columbia Plateau Native American histories consist
of inter-personal engagements with landscapes mediated by story. Tribal
histories are told in specific places and times and utilize particular
environmental elements to enhance the transmission and retention of cultural
information. If it is true that culturally significant physical landscapes
perform an indispensable communicative function, WWW modules naturally fail to
facilitate the crucial conditions under which cultural information is
concept of place constitutes the primary difference between tribal and digital
histories. The spatiality of the WWW may oppose the topocentrism of traditional
The WWW has no allegiance to certain places or times, the same content can be
viewed anywhere in the world at all hours. The
WWW is everywhere and nowhere - but access to it is very specific. Sophisticated
technologies, network access, and technical skills are required. When these
elements converge the WWW is a portal to cyberspace. On the Columbia Plateau,
sacred space and time emerges from the careful mix of sophisticated body and
speech technologies, producing “portals to the sacred” (Walker 1991). The
raconteur is the WWW connection, as it were, to an indigenous sacred/cyberspace.
problem of sacred place in cyberspace can be triangulated through an alternative
reading of Schitsu’umsh time and spatiality. The Schitsu’umsh narrator
states, “ the way the Schitsu’umsh relate to “‘time’ and ‘space’
and ‘causation’ differs considerably” (Coeur d’Alene 2002b: Approaching
this Module: Pedagogy). Native American autobiographical narratives focus on a
communal or relational identity and tend to be cyclical rather than lineal” (Vizenor
1994: 100). In WWW modules, time, space, and causation are convoluted, inverted,
and multilinear. Circular phenomenologies of time are available in WWW journeys
and by traditional Columbia Plateau peoples. Weblinks afford opportunities to
transcend the rigid order of place and time. The
multimedia and hypertextuality of the WWW creates an environment in which tribal
historiographies can adapt to the changing communicative modalities of today and
in the future. Essentially, “mythology is passing from a ritual act…–from
a mythology traveled, within oneself and one’s world to a mythology viewed, in
speech on the page” (Frey and Hymes 1998: 598).
Schitsu’umsh module participant travels, if they so choose, with elder Felix
Aripa to the era when the First People were creating the canyons, waterfalls,
outcrops, and mountains of the Columbia Plateau. The signatures left by
Beaver’s tail, Raven’s talons, and Bluejay’s beak are sacrosanct and
remade in ritual performance. The WWW and oral traditions subvert, expand, and
obliterate the experience of time, rewarding the participant with attendant
transcendence. Native American storytelling and their audiences utilize, but
essentially overcome, the gross boundaries of time, place, and convention to
create a spiritual ecology, which, in its most exquisite forms, is cosmically
moral and meta-reflexive.
on the WWW is demanding new concepts for the relationship between oral
traditions and specific places. Schitsu’umsh are innovatively using IDM to
solve geo-social problems. Using Geospatial Information Systems (GIS), the
Schitsu’umsh create hypertext cartographies consisting of audio, video, and
photographic data connected to interactive digital maps (Coeur d’Alene 2002c: Cultural
Preservation: GIS Names-Place Project).
The Kootenai-Salish, neighbors to the Schitsu’umsh, have a similar
cartographic program (Chris Horsethief, personal communication 2003; John Sirois,
personal communication 2004).
elder Felix Aripa, of a handful of speakers the most knowledgeable of
Schitsu’umsh language, is optimistic about hypertext cartography and IDM.
Linking indigenous language to sacred and gathering localities with digital
technology fuses language and landscape, to the best of our technical abilities.
In their endeavors in hypertext cartography, the Schitsu’umsh have gathered 35
hours of video, 30 hours of audio, and 1500 photographs from fieldwork at 130
traditional cultural properties (TCPs). This labor represents the most
comprehensive IDM project on the Columbia Plateau, and certainly one of the
largest in Native America.
cartographies appear interactive and three dimensional on the monitor. As the
viewer clicks on a particular location on the map, information about a gathering
place visited as a youth, for example, or a prehistoric harpooning station
“drops down [with] up to three or four perspectives that might include a story
told by an elder in both Coeur d'Alene and English, a history, as well as the
site's videos and slides” (Coeur d’Alene Tribe 2002c: Cultural Preservation:
GIS Names-Place Project).
This is a description of the most complex form of interactivity possible in indigenous hypertext cartography and a most sophisticated use of IDM in the service of tribalism. Certainly a “deep map” (McLucas 2004), this technology represents a place’s presence on all fronts, personally and positively, accurately and detailed. IDM is a living adjunct to and eventual underminer of the hegemony of descriptive archaeological and TCP reporting.
The current relief from visual
imperialism afforded to indigenous peoples by the web may be phantasmagoric, and
the “virtual performative” alone will not overturn their subaltern positions
in the political arena [Prims 2002: 72].
tribal modules example how narrative histories vie with dominator
historiographies (Bakhtin 1981) and use extant communication systems to
undermine domination. Tribes are long experienced in resisting the control of
their cultural images and likely see the WWW as an open space in which to grow
and affirm their tribalism. The post-textual tribalist methodology is to
undermine and surmount, with
imagination and the performance of new stories, the manifest manners of
scriptural simulations and “authentic” representations of the tribes in the
literature of dominance [Visenor 1994: 17].
taunt is noteworthy. IDM will not “overturn” the marginalization of Native
Americans but, like the advent of tribal newspapers, radio, television, and
film, it is a crucial advancement of tribal media sovereignty.
The IDM modules expand the
jurisdiction of intellectual property rights and “undermine” false
“authenticity” by presenting official public histories. The value of media
sovereignty increases as social engagement becomes more informational.
most relevant metaphor to discuss performance archaeology, dialogic literature,
and subvertising art is no longer the bricolage
of structuralism (Tilley 1990: 27) but the erosion of
poststructualism. Living surface structures discombobulate, subsurface
anthroposols and artifacts scatter and rearticulate on the undercut beach. By
using the dot-commons as a place to rearticulate their history, the
Schitsu’umsh offer an alternative, undermining the imperialist code of living.
democratic idealism of the WWW oscillates between flashes and dims. As
government and corporate control recedes and expands (Electronic Frontier
Foundation 2004), the WWW remains a postcolonial platform for those who have
access to web-production, viewing, and a tribalist project. While the elite
control of the WWW is expanding, the dot-commons exists as an attainable ideal
for cyberspace democracy, despite certain threats.
WWW poses new challenges for indigenous intellectual property rights.
Information can be distributed, reinterpreted, and exploited out of context on
the WWW. Identity politics affect cultural and economic prosperity in Indian
Country. The Schitsu’umsh drafted an intellectual property rights agreement
giving them complete control over the module, its direction, and existence, now
and into the future (Coeur d’ Alene 2002g: Setting
the Stage: Cultural Property Rights Agreement).
It is technically impossible to copy either text or pictures from the module.
The production of IDM, in consortium with elders and new media producers, while
working under comprehensive intellectual property rights agreements, strikes an
exquisite balance for indigenous people who claim a place in the dot-commons,
control its territorial boundaries, and invigorate the multicultural liminal.
The modules claim and defend indigenous identities in cyberspace.
over a century, Angloamerican anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians
have mediated Columbia Plateau Native American cultural content with direct
funding from the U.S. federal government (Fish 2005). This work, usually salvage
archaeology and salvage ethnography, done to standards of the day, have profound
political implications today, as witnessed by the power of the Indians Claims
Commission, by setting restrictive trends in methodology, content, form,
temporal depth, and geospatial breadth. Traditional people are offended by the
publicizing of incorrect, sacred, and private content in these technical
reports, interpretive ethnographies, and romanticized films.
militaristic, legal, and scientific historiography informed Native American
archaeology through the 19th and 20th centuries (Kehoe
1998; and Patterson 1995). On the Columbia Plateau in the 20th
century, from 1933-1975, ‘science’ excavated village and burial grounds
before the floods of reservoirs from electricity producing dams seriously
disturbed tribal subsistence and identity (Anonymous circa 1939; Collier Hudson,
and Ford 1942; Crane 2002; Dickson 1998; Fielder 1979; Frank 1948; Fryxell and
Keel 1969; Hicks 2004; Krieger 1927; Nez Perce Tribe 1998; Perry 1939; Robert
1948; Sprague and Birkby 1970).
one of these archaeological reports defined Native American culture as static,
incremental, evolutionary, geo-biological, ecologically determined, and to the exclusion
of all things, functional –usually only with rocks (Ames 1985; Bense 1972;
Butler 1965; Chatters, 1989; Hicks 2004; Lohse and Sammons-Lohse 1986; Reid
1991a; Sappington 1994; Swanson 1962; see Fish 2004a for detailed critique). In
2005, on the Columbia Plateau, a thousand archaeological reports will be written
confirming that the Native American past was cognitively
non-existent/absent-minded, and, while redundant for over 6000 years, not
affiliated with prehistoric peoples of such antiquity (Gould 2004, Jeldirks
2002). Indigenous digital media undermine previous texts, films, research
paradigms, and old archaeologists.
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Northwestern North America. In Prehistoric
Hunter-gatherers: The Emergence of Cultural Complexity, edited by T.D. Price
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Rising Waters Will Ruin Cemeteries-- Columbia River Areas to be Submerged
Are Being Cleared and New Sites are Located. Newspaper clipping on file at the
Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA.
Bakhtin, M. M.
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by Michael Holoquist. University of Texas Press, Austin.
S/Z. Hill and Wang, New York.
The Cascade Phase:
A Study in the Effect of the Altithermal on a Cultural System. Ph.D.
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Language and Symbolic Power, Edited by John B. Thompson. Polity Press
The Structure and Function of the Old Cordilleran Culture Concept. American
Anthropologist 67(5): 1120-1131.
1948 ‘Pick and Shovel
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accessed on December 9, 2004.
Resource Intensification and Sedentism on the Southern Plateau. Archaeology
in Washington 1: 3-19.
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accessed on November 12, 2004.
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accessed on October 25, 2004.
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accessed on November 15, 2004.
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accessed on October 25, 2004.
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Acknowledgements and Review Process, electronic document http://www.l3-lewisandclark.com/ShowOneObject.asp?SiteID=50&ObjectID=714,
accessed on November 15, 2004.
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accessed on November 11, 2004.
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accessed on November 14, 2004.
Donald, Alfred E. Hudson, and Arlo Ford
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Available Publications. Electronic document, http://www.cskt.org/hc/salish-publications.html,
accessed on December 7, 2004.
Thirty Years of Cultural Resources Management with the Confederated
Colville Tribes with Camille Pleasants, Tilley George, Barbara Aripa, Mary
Marchand, Adam Fish, Guy Moura, Consuelo Johnston, Sean Hess, Elizabeth Ezell,
and Donald Shannon. Symposia presented at Honoring the Heritage of the Plateau
Peoples: Past, Present, & Future, Washington
State University, Pullman, WA. September 29–30, 2004.
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The Umatilla, Walla Walla, & Cayuse, electronic document,
accessed on November 12, 2004.
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Four Dams, 1838-1955. Oregon Historical Quarterly 103(3): 295-219.
Oral History, Narrative Strategies, and Native American Historiography:
Perspectives from the Yukon Territory, Canada. In Clearing a Path: Theorizing
the Past in Native American Studies, edited by Nancy Shoemaker. Routledge
Cultural Resource Protection Associated with Lower Snake Drawdown.
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Submitted to the
Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Portland, Or.
Electric Frontier Foundation.
Electronic Frontier Foundation, electronic document, http://eff.org/,
accessed on December 6, 2004.
George F., Jr.
Palus Material Technology: A Technical Analysis of the Palus Burial
Assemblage from 45FR36B. Master’s thesis, University of Idaho, Moscow.
A Critique of Archaeological
Science on the Columbia Plateau. The Center for Landscape & Artefact.
Manuscript submitted on August 18,
2004, Wicazo Sa Review 28. Electronic document, /Kennewick_Plateau_Science.htm,
accessed on December 6, 2004.
Archaeologies of Ethnographic Film on the Columbia Plateau. Project
proposal by the Center for Landscape & Artefact. Electronic manuscript, /archaeologies_of_ethnographic_film.htm,
accessed on December 6, 2004.
History of Anthropological and Archaeological
Research on the Southern Plateau. In Social Archaeologies, Ethnographies,
and Histories of the Lower Snake River: Cultural Overviews of the Lower
Monumental Reservoir. Prepared by the History/Archaeology Program,
Confederated Colville Tribes, in partial fulfillment of contract #
DACW68-03-P-0154. Prepared for the Walla Walla Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla
District. Copies available from the Walla Walla Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla
District, Walla Walla, WA.
Digitized Coyote’s Landscape: Traversing American Indian Internet
Epistemologies. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Northwest
Anthropological Conference, Moscow, Idaho, March 22, 2001.
Frey, Rodney and Dell Hymes
Mythology. In Plateau, edited by D. E. Walker, Jr., pp. 584-599. Handbook of
North American Indians, 12, W.C. Sturtevant, general editor.
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
R., and B. Keel
Emergency Salvage Excavations for
the Recovery of Early Human Remains and Related Scientific Material from the
Marmes Rockshelter Archaeological Site, Southeastern Washington, May 3-December
15, 1968. Laboratory of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman.
Submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, Walla
Walla. Copies available from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla
District, Walla Walla.
Opinion and Order for Robson Bonnichsen et al. v. United States of America et
Memories: Resignifying the Traditional in Indigenous Claims. In Media
Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain, edited by Faye D. Ginsberg, Lila Abu-Lughod,
and Brian Larkin. University of California Press, Berkeley.
Ginsberg, Faye D., Lila Abu-Lughod,
and Brian Larkin
Introduction. In Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain, edited
by Faye D. Ginsberg, Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin. University of California
Situated knowledges: the science question in feminism and the privilege
of partial perspective. Simians, cyborgs
and women: the reinvention of nature: 183-201. Routledge, London.
Space and time. In: Haraway, Donna. Modest_witness@secondmiullenium.femaleMan_meets_oncoMouse:
11-14xx. Routledge, New York.
Personal Communication, November 16, 2003. Nespelem, WA
Keep Your Thoughts Above the Trees: Ideas on Developing and Presenting
Tribal Histories. In Clearing a Path: Theorizing the Past in Native American
Studies, edited by Nancy Shoemaker. Routledge Press, London.
Hicks, Brent (editor)
Marmes Rockshelter: A Final Report on 11,000 Years of Cultural Use.
Washington State University Press, Pullman.
Opinion and Order for Robson Bonnichsen et al. v. United States of America et
al. Civil No. 96-1481-JE.
Languages of Archaeology, Blackwell Press, Oxford.
Art: Performance, Place and Documentation,
Krieger, Herbert W.
1927 Archeological Excavations in the Columbia River Valley. Smithsonian Institution Miscellaneous Collections 78(7): 187-200.
The Land of Prehistory: A Critical History of North American
Archaeology. Routledge, New York.
We have never been modern.
Harvester Wheatsheaf, London.
Leone, Mark P.
about Recovering Mind. American Antiquity 47: 742-60
Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West. W.W.
Norton, New York.
Something in the Soil: Legacies and Reckonings in the New West.
Dimensions, New York.
E. S., and D. Sammons-Lohse
Sedentism on the Columbia Plateau: A Matter of Degree Related to the Easy
and Efficient Procurement of Resources. Northwest
Anthropological Research Notes 20(2): 115-136.
History of Research. Handbook of North American Indians, 12,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, edited by William Sturtevant, pp.8-27.
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Lopiparo, Jeanne and Rosemary A.
Crafting Cosmos, Telling Sister Stories, and Exploring
Archaeological Knowledge Graphically in Hypertext Environments. Ancient
Muses: Archaeology and the Arts, edited by James H. Jameson, Jr., John E.
Ehrenhard, and Christian A. Finn. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
The ideology of tribalism. The
Journal of Modern African Studies 9(2):253-61.
Native American Tribalism. Oxford University Press, London.
Morris, Rosalind C.
New World from Fragments: Film, Ethnography, and the Representation of
Northwest Coast Cultures. Westview Press, Boulder.
The Photoplay: A Psychological Study. D. Appleton, New York.
Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho
Cultural Resource Protection for Dam Removal or Breaching on the Lower
Snake River. Prepared by Nez Perce Tribe, Cultural Resource Program.
Submitted to the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Portland, OR.
Cultural Resource Program, electronic document,
accessed on November 11, 2004.
Geography, electronic document, http://l3.ed.uidaho.edu/ShowOneObject.asp?SiteID=34&ObjectID=152&ExpeditionID,
accessed on November 4, 2004.
Language Program and Some Lessons, electronic document, http://l3.ed.uidaho.edu/ShowOneObject.asp?SiteID=34&ObjectID=87,
accessed on November 8, 2004.
Oral traditions along the Clearwater and Snake Rivers, electronic
accessed on November 8, 2004.
To Sing and Dance in the Present, electronic document,
accessed on November 5, 2004.
Nicholas, George P.
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American Perspectives, Australian Prospects. Australian Archaeology 52,
Understanding the Present, Honoring the Past. Proceedings of the 32nd
Annual Charcoal Conference, edited by Trevor Peck, Evilly Siegfried, and
Gerald A. Oetelaar. Archaeological Association of the University of Calgary.
A Necessary Tension: Integrating Processual, Postprocessual, and Other
Approaches to the Past. In Indigenous Peoples and Archaeology, edited by
T. Peck and E. Siefried and G. Oetelaar, pp. 114-129. University of Calgary
Archaeological Association, Calgary.
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edited by Christopher Tilley. Blackwell Press, Oxford.
Toward a Social History of Archaeology in the United States (Case
Studies in Archaeology Series).
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Pearson, Mike and Michael Shanks
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Notes on the Type of Indian Burial Found in the Mid-Columbia River
District of Central Washington. New Mexico Anthropologist 3(5): 80-82.
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The author must thank Ian Harris,
Sven Ouzman, Stanley Krippner, Brad Garrett, and Rodney Frey for their edit and
ideas. Michael Shanks supplied a reference.
Adam Fish, MA, Executive Director, Center for Landscape & Artefact (www.landarte.org)
areas of specialization: indigenous archaeology, postcolonialism, iconography, critical theory, advocacy cinema, digital media, performance, music subcultures
geographies: Columbia Plateau, Pacific Northwest, Native American reservations in the West, Southwest, Yucatan, West Coast urban
narrative: I am an anthropologist, historian, and writer on Western American culture. My training is in the analysis of material culture and the practice of historic preservation in indigenous contexts. My primary interest is the indigenist turn in contemporary ethnographic media, specifically the uses of digital media in projects of self-representation and the advocacy of tribal sovereignty. I also study aural performance as an alternative and adjunct to the text
More biographical information:
represents only the interpretations and observations of its author. This
book chapter has not been reviewed or endorsed by any of the exampled
Before citing me as a secondary author, please consult the page you are
citing and the Coeur d’Alene Tribal review process
The Schitsu’umsh are politically and legally known as the Coeur d’Alene
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes also participate in IDM. Their
information is not on the WWW, instead there are over one hundred films,
presentations, lessons, and footage that individuals can check out for
Those that can be purchased include myths and films designed to teach
traditional language (Confederated Tribes of the Salish and Kootenai 2004).
The Colville just made a film on Kettle Falls using digital technologies and
plan to produce another in 2005 (Confederated Colville Tribes 2004).
are considered from the viewer’s perspective. In the ten videos depicting
powwow dancing, the slower 28k connection is not offered so as not to
distort the dancing, instead a 512k connection is offered so the viewer can
acquire a more accurate experience (Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho 2001e: To Sing
and Dance in the Present).
With the ease of a click, it is possible to hear the pronunciation of major
consonants, vowels, and phrases. With the advent of broadband across the
Coeur d’Alene reservation this will give, to anyone interested, access to
traditional language instruction. Schitsu’umsh off the Reservation can
access the website, hear the native language and the traditional teachings.
For the advanced student there exist ample possibilities to practice with
Felix Aripa as he raps in Schitsu’umsh about Coyote and his friends. On a
video clip on the Nimíipuu module, Horace Axtell, in
the Nez Perce Sahaptian dialect, tells of an account of the origin of Hells
Canyon and Seven Devils mountains in the Snake River of Idaho. (Nez Perce
Tribe 2001: Cultural Preservation: Language Program; Language Program and
this is why, on the Nimiipuu module, there is no section on “geography.”
According to the Nimiipuu, “‘geography’… [is] thoroughly integrated
throughout the Nimíipuu way of life (Nez Perce Tribe 2001: Geography).
Concepts of place, therefore, cannot be divided from the phenomenal world