Indigenous web round-up

Every month we share indigenous news, stories and media from around the world in our weekly round-up. With a focus on arts, culture & promoting the strength of indigenous knowledge. We also introduce new members who have joined our global collaboration network.

This week, we’re happy to feature:

The Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC) is a network of 135 indigenous peoples’ organisations in 20 African countries.

Dutch/British acclaimed photographer with over 15 years of experience working with indigenous tribes Jimmy Nelson.

Culture is Life: non-profit organization established to underpin Aboriginal and Torres Trait Islander led initiatives.

Fanny Cochrane Smiths’ songs of survival

This here is the only recording of a language that has become extinct, the languages of the Tasmanian indigenous people:

The woman in this recording is Fanny Cochrane Smith. Fanny was born in 1834 on Flinders Island. She became a trailblazer for her people and well-known for her singing voice, she sang the songs of her people to crowds of European people and they seemed to love it. Between 1899 and 1904, recordings were made on wax cylinders using a grammophone. Being the last fluent speaker of any Aboriginal Tasmanian language (she was around the age of 70 at the time), these recordings of Fanny have been preserved by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) and last week they were inscribed on UNESCO’s Australian Memory of the World Register.

One of Cochrane’s descendants said it was a proud day and spoke about the general message of the songs she sang in an interview with ABC news:

“She was a strong woman, a woman who stood up and spoke the truth about what was going on. Bearing in mind she would have known of the atrocities of the things that happened in the past to her families, she was singing about what was important to her as an Aboriginal person.”

Photojournal – Fábio Nascimento


PHOTOGRAPHER: Fábio Nascimento


The Tapajós river basin is a sanctuary of biodiversity and one of the largest rivers of the Amazon rainforest, and now it is under threat. The Brazilian government is planning to build three dams, which would impact its unique and rich biodiversity and the homes of 14 thousand indigenous people of the Munduruku ethnics.

Reconciliation through storytelling

“Reconciliation can only happen if somebody is interested in actually learning and being a part of that conversation. And so I think engagement and awareness of the culture in general is really the first step.”

This is an inspirational quote from a young Canadian native called Adrian Duke, living in Vancouver and working on a very ambitious project: Duke is building a storytelling app with indigenous stories that are attached to land and cities all across the country. The app works much like Pokemon GO, it shows the user real-time information as they follow the tracks laid out on their phone. Duke’s amazing project received funding from the government’s Department of Canadian Heritage and as 200.000 dollars were already spent on building the software, he is now working on crowdsourcing the stories itself; granting 50 dollars as a reward for every submission. Up till now he only has 6 and wants to work up to 600 before the beginning of june, the official release of the app.

The app is supposed to be a step towards a full reconciliation of Canadian indigenous knowledge. David Gaertner, an expert in digital storytelling with the university of British Colombia says he loves the idea, but it’s not entirely new. There have been previous attempts at re-layering stories upon the land (through native storytelling). According to Gaertner the Survivors Speak series are a very powerful example. You can watch a short fragment right over here:

Read the full story in Vice Motherboard.

Musical feature: the Andean panflute

Being one of the earliest instruments of the Americas, ancient Panpipes or Panflutes have been excavated from South America all the way north to Canada, with oldest known examples dating back to 4200 BC. The siku (panpipe) is originally from the Aymaras of Perú and Bolivia, residing along the Titicara lake. The Aymara women would play their siku as they came down from the mountains. Since the largest siku has every note (A-G), and was too big for the woman to play by herself, they often got two sikus (usually smaller ones) that would be played together with someone else, so they could play them continuously after another and thus the scales could fully be used. Once the 2 women partnered, they then became musically bonded with each other, as part of their religion, and neither could play the pipes with any other for the rest of their life.

Here’s an example of a panflute player: