5436 - Creating "Indigenous Modernity" through information and communication technologies: The case of the Kuhkenah Network (K-Net) in northwestern Ontario, Canada

This paper takes a look at indigenous media technologies in the geographical and sociocultural contexts of northwestern Ontario, Canada. By introducing the case of the Kuhkenah Network (K-Net), it intends to show how First Nations have taken control over the planing, creation, distribution, and uses of information and communication technologies (ICT), such as broadband internet and cell phones. Overall aim of this development is to connect the people of this huge and thinly populated area by state-of-the-art communication technologies, contributing thus to what has been termed "indigenous modernity".

Beside technological infrastructures, K-Net also provides and supports services such as telehealth, videoconferencing, online learning, personal e-mail, webspace and homepages to the Ojibwa, Ojicree and Cree people of the region. Those services are designed to fit the specific needs of the indigenous population, considering their sociocultural, political, and economic situation. As one of the world's leading indigenous ICT provider, K-Net is spearheading a movement of indigenous ICT organizations by sharing year-long experience, best practice models, and knowledge within Canada, but also in the Americas and on a global scale.

Building on ethnographic research, which was conducted offline as well as online in the last 5 years, this paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the history, the challenges, and the possible future of indigenous media technologies in this part of the Americas and in the wider transnational contexts of "indigenous modernities".

Keywords: First Nations, Canada, information and communication technologies, Indigenous Modernity

Author: Budka, Philipp (University of Vienna, Austria / Österreich)


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