Design Idea for Indigenous Social Justice: Database of Crowd-sourced Place-based Stories

Image result for mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier. Precious to many who live in the greater Seattle area.

Tahoma. To those who have been here much longer. 

Before we can really talk about jurisdictional issues with many non-Indigenous people, it is important for non-Indigenous people to recognize their own love for place. No matter how much us natives might know a certain place to be sacred, the idea of sacred places just doesn’t seem to register anything in many non-Indigenous people’s hearts. Many non-Indigenous people would be happy to fly off to another planet and live there if they ccould. I want to awaken that love for place so non-Indigenous people can begin to empathize with some of our land-based issues. But, I don’t want to do it like a door-to-door proselytizer. My idea is to create a digital social space where people share their stories of certain real-world places.  Imagine having an app on your phone that wherever you go, whether it’s to the park, the beach, or wherever, you can open it up and see beautiful stories of this place. They could be Indigenous stories curated by tribes, personal stories, and if you want, you can add your own. For free! No Ads!

It could be like a place-based Wikipedia of people’s stories. It could start out like a map that say, connects with Google’s GPS, and if you click on a place you can go to the database (similar to Wikipedia) of stories, with pictures, video etc. If people want to share a story with the rest of the world about a little trip to the park they had with their family, or something bigger or more significant, they can. It should be not-for-profit and maintained by a core group and group-sourced contributions. It it catches on, a mass of non-Indigenous people may suddenly see how much place means to them. It gives them an opportunity to reflect on how place matters, something that Indigenous people have known all along. After this takes effect, more people may will be willing to empathize with Indigenous people’s claims to sacred places and their lands. It might not, it’s just an idea.

I want to add that this land-based social experiment would have layers. The bedrock layer to any place should be controlled and maintained by the tribes original to those lands. So no matter what story that settlers add, it will always be on the surface of the bedrock layer of the tribal nations stories that have been here since time immemorial. In visual representation you could have the tribal stories being bigger font, with bigger pictures and all the other personal stories be smaller. The significance would be quite powerful for those who visit the project and participate in the growing collection of stories.

With a changes of heart comes changes in policy.

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