Article : « Oral history goes digital as Google helps map ancestral lands »

google mapUn article du journal canadien The Globe and Mail signé Justine Hunter et intitulé « Oral history goes digital as Google helps map ancestral lands » présente les travaux de recherche de Brian Thom, anthropologue, Université de Victoria, dans le domaine de la cartographie autochtone.

Oral history goes digital as Google helps map ancestral lands –Justine Hunter, The Globe and Mail, 11 July 2014

As a commercial fisherman and an elder in the Stz’uminus First Nation, Ray Harris has long been a guardian of secrets. Neither his favourite fishing spots nor the oral history of sacred spaces around his community on Vancouver Island’s east coast have been easily pried from him.

But he is now telling tales in the most irretrievably public way, contributing to an indigenous mapping project that imbeds his culture into the digital expanse of Google Earth.

Cruising in his 37-foot gillnetter, Bearcat, across Kulleet Bay, Mr. Harris points out some boulders, glacial erratics that rest on the shore. One features a petroglyph of a fierce sea wolf – a reminder of times of war along the coast for the Stz’uminus people.

“It was the only sentry we needed. You couldn’t make an approach to Kulleet Bay or Shell Beach, without that rock seeing whoever was coming,” he explained. Anthropologist Brian Thom sits at his side, recording the story over the thrum of the Bearcat’s engine and marking the locations on his laptop.

With these stories, Mr. Harris, a former chief of the Stz’uminus First Nation, is helping to redraw the map, with the assistance of anthropologists from the University of Victoria, led by Mr. Thom, and backed by the California tech giant, Google.

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