Upcoming presentation about Digital Technologies in the POSOH Project at the 2014 First Americans Land-grant Consortium (FALCON) Conference


10/24/14 – The University of Wisconsin-Madison POSOH Project and Reynaldo Morales, a UW-Madison doctoral student who studies and has broad international experience using digital media as a social justice and educational tool, were selected to present at this important conference (http://falcon.aihec.org/Pages/FALCONHome.aspx) that will take place on Saturday, November 08, 2014. The Falcon Conference is dedicated to discuss research, teaching, and community programs at 1994 Land-grant Institutions conducted by students, faculty and staff.  This year there will be a strong student focus, and tribal colleges’ successes in teaching, extension services and research that benefit Native American students, communities and lands. The tile of our presentation is “Digital Technologies in the POSOH Project: Tools for Reflection and Building Capacity Through Leadership Development in American Indian Communities of Northeast Wisconsin”. We are very please to present the same day that fellow partners from the College of Menominee Nation-Sustainable Development Institute as Eric Schneider, Keith Kinepoway, Rebecca Elder, and Chris Caldwell will offer a presentation about a Partnership in Forest Stewardship Education.

The emphasis in our presentation will be focused on how digital media technologies are employed in the POSOH Project to both transform science teaching and learning directly, and to build local capacity by supporting reflective leadership development. This presentation introduces several of POSOH’s innovative uses of digital media as educational communication tools for both teachers and students in overarching inquiry processes, including fostering American Indian students’ interest and participation in science learning and academics in general, as well as supporting transformative pedagogical practices and learning experiences for K-16 educators. The presentation will showcases excerpts from a documentary film, Decolonizing Local Capacity: Participatory Curriculum Development in Culturally Relevant STEM Education for Tribal and Public Schools in Northeast Wisconsin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ozgW_-63bA), to both describe the curriculum development aspects of POSOH’s work and demonstrate how digital media can be used as a reflective tool in support of leadership development. The presentation will include also reflections about affiliated UW-Madison Youth Media programs, in which Reynaldo served as Lead Instructor during 2013 and 2014 that developed complementary approaches. This session will offers innovative ideas for making the processes associated with digital media use as valuable as the products that are produced.

POSOH Hosts its First FIG (Freshman Interest Group) @ UW-Madison

Freshmen Interest Groups (FIGs) hold high importance to many new Freshmen at UW-Madison. FIGs organize course offerings around various themes, and offer small seminar groupings (alongside large lecture courses) to small cohorts of students to better facilitate a smooth transition to life and academics in the large, competitive setting that UW-Madison provides. This Fall Semester, POSOH is teaching its first FIG, “Native Science, Biodiversity, and Sustainability,” using an adapted curriculum from the Netaenawemakank unit on the Menominee Forest. Our 14 students are learning about biodiversity and sustainability through the context of the Menominee Forest using an approach to Native Science and an American Indian ethic of land stewardship that comes from POSOH’s place.

“It’s so great that I can come here and just talk to one of you,” says Emma, one of POSOH’s FIG Freshmen. “Other people I’ve approached are always so busy and I need to stick to just discussing course topics.” Emma, like other students, appreciates the home-like atmosphere of Science House, one of the oldest buildings on campus, which is the site of this Native Science FIG. FIG instructors Dr. Hedi Lauffer, Linda Orie (UW graduate student in Curriculum & Instruction), and Justin Gauthier (UW undergraduate student in Creative Writing) make concerted efforts to make all students feel comfortable and part of a cohesive, supportive group. In September, our Native Science FIG took a field trip to the College of Menominee Nation’s Sustainability Development Institute to meet some of POSOH’s partners and experience a part of the Menominee Forest. None of the students had ever been there, and this opportunity opened their eyes to a part of Wisconsin they hadn’t known much about before.


Team POSOH-TLAM is on the case!

Yesterday, when Omar, Lotus, and I met for our weekly update meeting, we dug deep into Mukurtu. It was great! As a team, we experimented and figured out how to do things that we were unclear about. Omar took the lead as the administrator of the site, changing the status of our dopplegangers, deleting mistakes, and finding instructions we needed to accomplish our experimental tasks, while Lotus and I switched between my log-in and hers, testing the limits of what each could and could not do on the site. Though we had gone through the webinar series to-date, without a complete hands-on experience, some of Mukurtu’s functions were a bit fuzzy. I think yesterday’s excursion through Mukurtu cleared up a bit of the fuzziness.

We were able to understand the workings of the “Cultural Protocols” function. Mukurtu has a wonderful layering system that allows for private groups. A “Community” can be created as an open community, a community where only the members of the community can view digital heritage items in that community (without additional restrictions within the community), or a community can have restrictions both outside and inside the community. For instance, if a community protocol only allows for tribal members of a certain group to be able to view an item, this protocol can be created and then within that group, the members limits can be set to allow only the people who fit that criteria to view certain items. Say Omar has a document that should only be viewed by him and another person, possibly do to the sensitive nature of the item, a protocol could be created with the title “Omar and ? only”. If the item is then created with this cultural protocol selected, then in order for the item to even show up, the member would need to have this protocol listed in their profile. So, in order for Omar and the other person to be able to view the object, they would both need to have this protocol listed in their profile.

This was a little confusing when we first started our journey into the Mukurtu world, but we were able to have that “Aha!” moment, which was AWESOME! The more we work with this incredible resource, the more of these moments we will have. Thank you Mukurtu team for creating this incredible resource! It is an invaluable innovation for tribal communities!

Mukurtu Mobile is Here!

On October 8, 2014, Lotus and I attended the Mukurtu webinar revolving around Mukurtu Mobile. This is an exciting addition to the already awesome Mukurtu CMS. Mukurtu Mobile is an application for mobile devices, such as iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. It allows users to log onto their Mukurtu account and upload digital heritage items on the go. This can be done either online or offline, once the user is logged in, and of course to add the items to the content of their site, they would need to be online.

During the webinar, Elena Toffalori and Ruth Tringham explained the many uses and demonstrated these uses to us. Some of the main features include:

  • Seamless integration with Drupal/Mukurtu CMS (can log in with same username and password)
  • Create digital heritage items
  • Mukurtu CMS standard metadata for content
  • set access permissions based on communities and cultural protocols
  • Collect content offline (only need to be online to upload)
  • Add media; media types supported: audio (recording tool on Mukurtu), image, video (supported by youtube)
  • Internal documentation and links to online support

For now, to enable Mukurtu Mobile, users will need to ask Mukurtu support, but once Mukurtu 2.0 is released in January 2015, this will change.

It was interesting and exciting to learn that this feature will be available. It is possible that I won’t use it a lot in my project, but hopefully it will be a useful tool to those who will become the stewards of the POSOH Digital Library. If anyone is interested in Mukurtu, please visit Mukurtu.org. The people are great and would be happy to help you with any questions or help you to get set up with Mukurtu.

Omar was able to get us an instance of Mukurtu 1.0 that resides on the Pantheon servers used by the Mukurtu group. This is also very exciting because now we get to work directly with the system and learn about it in a hands-on fashion. Sometime this week or next, I will request an instance of Mukurtu Mobile for my iPad so that I can check that out, too.

I am also beginning to collect the resources for POSOH and to learn the best way to organize them both before they are added to the library and once they are part of it. Things are rolling along!

Mukurtu’s Creation Story

During the Mukurtu webinar held on September 24, 2014, I was introduced to Mukurtu on a more personal level. Kim Christen Withey, the creator of Mukurtu, and Alex Merrill, who assisted in the creation of Mukurtu 1.0 were guest speakers during this episode. It was great to hear their personal stories first-hand, giving me a deeper understanding as to the drive of the project as a whole.

Mukurtu, as I have noted in a previous post, was originally created as a one-time archival project for one specific community residing in Central Australia. In 1995, Kim Christen Withey began working with the Warumungu people in order to help them create a digital archive meant to house sensitive cultural materials in a way that adhered to their cultural protocols.

Kim told her story of how the Warumungu people were building a cultural center and were receiving mostly CDs containing digitized versions of Warumungu objects. These objects had been removed from the community and were being held in museums and archives, some of which were thousands of kilometers away. The community wanted a way to view these objects while adhering to their community, cultural protocols. In talking about the community, Kim said, “Protocols already function in a very real way offline every single day the way you interact with people”, and people in the community were saying, “How do we make it work on that (pointing to the laptop)?”And so, the seed for the Mukurtu we now know and the version to come in January was planted.

Mukurtu CMS came about after version 1.0 was created because it was apparent that there was a strong need for a CMS (content management system). This need became apparent when Kim went on the conference circuit to talk about the Mukurtu project. She said “my phone in my office starting ringing off the hook with people asking how they could get it” – at first, she thought they can’t and then began thinking of how to make it possible.

Enter Alex Merrill. Alex works with Kim on the Mukurtu project. He had been interested in history in a way that strayed from what he calls “big history”. He said, “History, as you look backward is…you look through a lens. Where that current lens is, it can look different at different times, right, and bringing in this traditional knowledge from people who aren’t part of the ‘western European scholarly record’ gives a more complete view in my mind, and so when these communities share this back with institutions, this collaborative stewardship, it makes me happy.”

After being able to hear both Kim Christen Withey and Alex Merrill talk about the paths that led them to what is happening now with Mukurtu, I understand that Mukurtu is built on a foundation of advocating for the rights of Indigenous groups to be able to be stewards of their own histories and cultures.

Hello Mukurtu!

I was introduced to Mukurtu on Wednesday, September 10. It was love at first site! Our network of University of Wisconsin – Madison (POSOH and TLAM) folks: Omar Poler, Lotus Norton-Wisla, and myself met at the University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Library and Information Studies to attend a webinar hosted by the Center of Digital Archaeology. It was an hour-long meeting introducing us to Murkurtu Premiere.

During the webinar, Omar, Lotus, and I were able to create a digital record using Mukurtu Premiere. The metadata was done for us, but we were able to see the distinction between the field/element and the value associated with each one. Mukurtu software uses a base of Dublin Core, with additional fields/elements specifically to adhere to local cultural protocols. One such field was titled “Cultural Narrative”. This field was created in order to allow for personal comments to be added to the record, giving the object a new life.

The three of us, Omar, Lotus, and I, will be attending the webinar series throughout this semester in order to understand the ways of Mukurtu and prepare ourselves for the new version expected to come out in January of 2015.

Stay tuned for more updates on the progress of the POSOH Digital Collections project!

Information Overload

For this week’s meeting of the POSOH/SLIS group, we are reading three articles, one of which was written by Michael Ashley, entitled “Deep Thinking in Shallow Time: Sharing Humanity’s History in the Petabyte Age”. The article delves into the reality of our current situation with regard to information. There is A LOT of it and a lot of it is in a digital format, which means it is at a higher risk of being lost to the ages. Rather than losing the information to decay or a weather related catastrophe, it is more than likely the information will be lost to weeding or lack of preservation. In his article, Ashley states, “Hillis describes the ‘here and now’ as a ‘Digital Dark Age’, because information is devalued by the ubiquity of digital content that cannot outlast our lifetimes” (Ashley 6). I had thought of this before, but had not thought of the impact this kind of loss might have on the history of humanity.

Ashley talks about the timeline of human written/recorded history. He asks the question, “The Internet, or electronic networking, is transforming so quickly, what will it be like in 25 years, one reflection of time from its creation?” (Ashley 4). His article is concerned that, like the hieroglyphs of ancient times, digital information from today will not be recognizable in 25 years. It will not be readable and it will therefore not be relevant. For this reason, it is important to begin a process of standardization that will morph as needed into newer versions of itself, rather than having to start from scratch every time a new digital information preservation language is introduced.

An interesting point about this that was made in his article is that it is up to the producer of the information to preserve the information now. He says, “Until we can invent the digital equivalent of the cuneiform tablets, that is, a substance that can preserve the medium and the message equally, we will need stewards of the human record” (Ashley 6).

The importance of the digital library project I am working on is stated in the above sentence. If we don’t preserve the legacy of the POSOH project, no one else will. The products, the science units, will be available, but the work that went into them will be lost. The background of the project, the people who worked so hard on it need to also be preserved. The digital library project will not only preserve the work of the POSOH project, it will be an avenue of preservation for other projects of the Sustainable Development Institute of the College of Menominee Nation and hopefully also, through Mukurtu, a preservation tool for other tribal projects and information.

Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End

I am a graduate student at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. This is my first semester and I have been lucky enough to have a Project Assistantship created for me to assist the POSOH project, which I have been working on for the past three years as an undergraduate Philosophy student.

The POSOH project is a five-year project funded by the USDA.The project is the hub for a variety of educational projects focusing on sustainability and bioenergy. A bulk of the project has focused on creating culturally relevant, place-based science curriculum to be taught throughout Wisconsin, but specifically in the Menominee Nation and the Oneida Nation, both of Northeastern Wisconsin. These curricula, for 7th, 8th, and 9th grades have then been taught to teachers in Professional Development Institutes, which in turn have been taught in classrooms throughout northeastern Wisconsin. There are many other aspects of the POSOH project, which I will not go into here, because more information will be available on the website, which will be available in the near future. This is where I come in.

I have been incredibly lucky to be a part of the project for the past three years. As I entered the SLIS community, my role has changed within the project to reflect my leveling up. I am able to continue being a part of the project for at least the next year, within another path of the project, while I, along with help from members of the SLIS community, primarily Omar Poler, create a digital library of the resources both used to make the POSOH curricula and resources that have been created for the POSOH curricula. The POSOH digital library will be built using Mukurtu CMS.

Mukurtu CMS is a wonderful content management system created to allow Indigenous communities around the world to create digital libraries, which reflect the same cultural protocols with regard to access to objects and information seen in their own communities. For more information on the mission of Mukurtu, please visit www.mukurtu.org. In using Mukurtu CMS, we will be allowing for further development of the library by the Menominee Nation once the POSOH project reaches its completion, with the hopes that the digital library will then be housed on the College of Menominee Nation’s Sustainable Development website.