Editors' note on the October 2023 issue of Reviews in Digital Humanities, a special issue on digital Native and Indigenous studies, edited by Jennifer Guiliano
Jennifer Guiliano and Roopika Risam
We begin this month’s editorial note with heavy hearts as we continue to witness the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people and the humanitarian crisis that has been encouraged by colonial and capitalist regimes. The prevalence of anti-semitism, Islamophobia, and violence around the world horrifies us, as do the unwarranted and illegal actions now targeting innocent Palestinians. Coupled with worldwide authoritarian and fascist actions of other regimes and peoples, we recognize that for many of our communities colonialism and decolonization are not issues of theory but instead directly impact our lives, families, communities, and futures.
As an academic journal we are cognizant that the business of producing another issue might suggest a lack of sensitivity to these concerns. Instead, we approach producing this issue on digital Native American and Indigenous studies as one contribution to understanding how Indigenous communities resist colonialism through digital technologies and platforms. With a social justice agenda as one of our core values, we view putting out this — and every issue — as a way to support colleagues and communities challenging the structural and systemic violence of these types of forces both in their own contexts and through global allyship. The trauma of these moments takes generations to heal; we hope that our colleagues in Palestine see an immediate ceasefire so they can begin to heal from this trauma.
So, we will continue to produce our issues and seek to support communities and colleagues who are grappling with these issues and impacts. We hope our issue provides a brief respite to you as you read.
We welcome your participation in Reviews in Digital Humanities. You can submit a project for review, nominate a project you admire, volunteer for our reviewer pool, and tell your colleagues and students about the journal.
Questions? Thoughts? Concerns? Contact the editors, Jennifer Guiliano and Roopika Risam, by email or through the Twitter hashtag #ReviewsInDH.
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Centered around community responsibility, reciprocal relationships, and consent, Native American and Indigenous studies has long embraced the values espoused by digital humanities, albeit in analog form. Yet, with the growth of digitized and born-digital archives and the expansion of tribal communities’ access to digital environments, the last decade has seen tremendous growth in the number of projects by, and about, Indigenous peoples.
This issue of Reviews in Digital Humanities highlights key concerns of Native and Indigenous communities: sovereignty in political and digital forms; representation in archives, databases, and public spaces; and forms of storytelling that highlight the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples. My goal as special issue editor was to provide a glimpse of the ways that Indigenous scholars and their allies are embracing digital environments while holding true to the concerns of Indigenous communities.
The issue highlights:
Wikipeticia Atikamekw Nehiromowin, the Wikipedia instance developed by the Atikamekw First Nation (Quebec, Canada) that combines the development of articles on Atikamekw culture with collaborative writing that relies on elders of the three Atikamekw communities sharing knowledge, directed by Nastasia Herold and reviewed by Melissa S. Stoner;
The Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project, a collaborative effort to digitize, describe, and create access to materials related to the Genoa U.S. Indian Industrial School (Nebraska, USA), that centers community members as both experts and audience to tell the stories of the Indigenous children who attended Genoa, their communities, and their descendants, directed by Susana D. Grajales Geliga, Margaret Jacobs, and Elizabeth Lorang and reviewed by Cristina Stanciu;
The Guide to Indigenous DC, which writes with and against governmental and tourist-based narratives of the lands that became Washington, DC. Serving the Piscataway community upon whose traditional homelands Washington, DC was built and the many Indigenous peoples who have traveled to and through the city in the past and today, the guide offers an alternative story of one of the US’s most well-known places, directed by Elizabeth Rule and reviewed by Joshua Catalano;
Terrastories.io, an open-source participatory mapping and storytelling application that assists Indigenous communities with mapping, protecting, and sharing stories about their land, directed by Rudo Kemper and reviewed by Niiyokamigaabaw Deondre Smiles.
Following Gerald Vizenor’s work on survivance, Ho-Chunk scholar and community member Amy Lonetree writes: “Knowing our history through the lives of our ancestors opens a recovery process that is central to addressing the legacies of historical unresolved grief that persist in our communities. Through these journeys into our past, we can reclaim our history for current and future generations of Ho-Chunk people.” The four selected projects demonstrate how recovery of Indigenous knowledge can lead to Indigenous futures. My hope is that you see the beauty of these projects as they chart a course for Indigenous storytelling and sovereignty.