On Saturday, May 13, 2023 members of The People and the Text team will present a panel at the Native and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) conference in Toronto. The panel, titled "Using Digital Humanities Tools to Reconsider the 19th Century Indigenous Archive: The People and the Text" will be chaired by Cherokee scholar Daniel Heath Justice (UBC), with Cree-Métis scholar Deanna Reder, and settler scholars Susan Glover and Alix Shield as panelists. Digital Humanities settler scholar Susan Brown will be the respondent.
This panel considers the usefulness of Digital Humanities (DH) tools to re-examine Indigenous writing spanning the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While aggregating and analyzing an entire corpus can uncover grammatical or semantic signals or word frequency, can it allow scholars to uncover Indigenous understandings embedded in the English language?
Deanna Reder asks if it is possible to detect Anishinaabe worldviews embedded in George Copway's 1847 autobiography using the method of "distant reading". Susan Glover asks how early Indigenous writing can be respectfully catalogued in databases with ontologies designed for Euro-Canadian literary production. Alix Shield illustrates how DH techniques can be used to recognize the narrative voices of storytellers Chief Joe and Mary Capilano, whose storytelling contributions have often been overlooked in Mohawk writer E. Pauline Johnson's Legends of Vancouver. Daniel Justice will introduce the panel in light of his book, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter. Finally, Susan Brown will comment on the potential of the Digital Humanities to question how technologies can better serve Indigenous literary studies and ultimately Indigenous stories and communities.