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Jatta Wöötanö: “Digital Media, an Important Possibility for Indigenous Communities”

Rising Voices grantee project update

Danny formación

Image used with permission

Jatta Wöötanö is a digital media and ICT training project for indigenous youth from the Yekuana ethnic group in Venezuela. The Yekuana is a community comprised of river navigators that settled along different banks of the tributaries of the Orinoco river that currently span 30,000 km² of territory in the Venezuelan states of Bolívar and Amazonas as well as parts of Northern Brazil.

As part of the youth training activities, the project carried out a series of training workshops on digital media in the headquarters of the Kuyujani Organization, an institution dedicated to support Sánema and Yekuana communities from the Caura river basin in the Venezuelan state of Bolívar.

The workshops encouraged the participants to approach digital media critically and thoughtfully, as they share their life and community stories through blogs, social networks, etc.

Professor and educator Danny Franco, specialist in educational technology, was in charge of creating the training program, and he also led the participants in creating their blogs. About this task, he told us:

Ha sido un trabajo muy interesante y aleccionador. Hemos tratado dentro de del equipo y desde los objetivos del proyecto, poder crear un programa de formación acorde a las realidades de los indígenas participantes. En ese sentido nos hemos centrado en dos perspectivas particulares; la parte del uso instrumental de las TIC, es decir, computadoras, teléfonos móviles, tabletas, etc. Así como el acceso a los medios digitales y el manejo de las interfaces de blogs y redes sociales y por otro lado todo lo relacionado a la concientización del uso de estos medios de comunicación en el contexto de los pueblos indígenas y sus cosmovisiones.

It has been a very interesting and enlightening work. Among the team and the project's objectives, we've tried to create a training program that matches the realities of the indigenous participants. Thus, we've focused on two particular perspectives: the instrumental usage of ICTs, such as computers, mobile phones, tablets, etc, as well as the access to digital media and the management of blogs interfaces and social networks. On the other hand, we also stressed everything related to how to best use this communication media within the context of indigenous communities and their world views.

Franco has been professor at the Indigenous University of Venezuela for over six years. During this period, he has gained the necessary experience that has allowed him to understand and to have the sensibility for working with indigenous people.

Creo que el tema indígena en general es muy interesante y al mismo tiempo muy complicado. Aunque en Venezuela la Constitución Nacional y las leyes protegen al indígena de manera excepcional, aún faltan acciones contundentes sobre hechos puntuales como lo ocurrido recientemente en la cuenca del río Caura, donde se vieron vulnerados los derechos de las etnias Sánema y Yekuana por la minería ilegal y el abuso de las autoridades. Ahora vemos que los medios de comunicación social, sobre todo los digitales, son una posibilidad importante para que las comunidades indígenas y sus miembros, cuenten sus historias y el mundo no indígena pueda estar informado de lo que está pasando.

I think indigenous issues are very interesting and at the same time very complicated. Although in Venezuela, the National Constitution and laws protect the indigenous in an exceptional way, there is still lack of strong actions regarding specific events, as had recently happened in the Caura river basin, where the rights of ethnic Sánema and Yekuana communities were affected by illegal mining and mistreatment by the authorities. Now we realize that social communication media, especially the digital media, represents an important possibility for the indigenous communities and their members to share their stories so the non-indigenous world can be informed about what's going on.

The Jatta Wöötanö project will continue its training activities all throughout May due to the high demand within the Yekuana communities. You can visit the project's blog where you can also access the blog of each of the participants and the multimedia material produced so far.

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