Cross-Cultural Digital Storywork: A Framework for Engagement with/in Indigenous Communities
While Indigenous peoples have long urged attention to Six Rs (respect, relevance, reciprocity, responsibility, relationality, and representation) that are important to community-engaged work, application of these principles has been sporadic within the filmmaking industry. Many Indigenous communities do not have the technical expertise and/or resources needed to support professional quality audiovisual production. As a result, they rely on predominantly White filmmakers from beyond the community. Unfortunately, mainstream filmmaking practices have historically demonstrated a disregard for Indigenous ways of knowing, and a scarcity of meaningful relationships between filmmakers and community members has further contributed to a legacy of insensitive filmmaking within Indigenous contexts. In addition, internet-based distribution of cultural content raises questions about post-production sovereignty. In this project, Tribal College (TC) students and faculty partnered with students and faculty from a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) to develop culturally sustaining and revitalizing documentaries using storywork, digital storytelling, ethnocinema, and community-centered participatory research. Throughout the Digital Histories Project, TC participants gained technical expertise, PWI participants learned about culturally sustaining/revitalizing filmmaking, and faculty leaders identified ways to support use of the Six Rs within social science, history, and teacher education. Results offer methodological and pedagogical insights for scholars, educators, tribal leaders, and filmmakers.
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