Have you ever noticed that if something is Indigenous then it’s labelled with terms such as “myth”, “tradition”, “customs” or “stories” but if it’s Western, European, or colonial, they change to “religion”, “‘science”, “technology” and “data”? Do you ever think about what any of these terms actually mean and why they are used in some contexts but not others? How often do you come across Indigenous religion? Indigenous science? Indigenous technology? Indigenous data? . . . Indigenous Peoples have developed countless sciences, technologies and innovations since time immemorial but common indicators of human “progress” and “development” don’t include Indigenous perspectives. Attempts to “close the gap” that doesn’t account for the effects of colonialism will continue forced assimilation and inequality through a continued disregard for Indigenous sovereignty. . .Unfortunately, much of the priceless and irreplaceable knowledge Indigenous Peoples used for millennia is lost as a result of the colonial project. As settler states grow, Indigenous Peoples are no longer guides, teachers and allies; now they are inconvenient neighbours whose “inherent backwardness” is an obstacle to “civilized progress”. From the perspective of the settler state, they are doing Indigenous Peoples a favour by “encouraging” them to assimilate and/or “get off” government aid. When that doesn’t work, settler states force the issue by outlawing Indigeneity and forcing Traditional Knowledge underground. To this day, Traditional Knowledge still struggles for recognition. For wider society to appreciate and embrace them, we need to rethink our common perceptions of data and end the ongoing colonial mindset that dominates most of the world.
Excerpt from Decolonizing Digital: Empowering Indigeneity Through Data Sovereignty, https://animikii.com/news/decolonizing-digital-empowering-indigeneity-through-data-sovereignty