The Cultural Conservancy - The Storyscape Project Ethnographic Audio/Video Recording (SPEAR) Workshops
Nicola and Gilbert – Nicola Wagenberg with workshop participants
The people need a language nest at home, in the schools, in the community. The health of a language indicates the health of the community.
-- Germaine Tremail (Dakota)
Starting in 1998 TCC began to offer audio recording workshops to indigenous communities, tribes, and cultural programs. These one to three day workshops cover all aspects of ethnographic recording from the use of equipment, production to post-production, intellectual and cultural property rights and the use of the recordings for cultural revitalization programs. We tailor the workshops for the particular needs of each group we serve.
We have provided workshops for indigenous communities, tribes and tribal associations including:
- Southern California Tribal Digital Village
A series of workshops for the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association in Pala, California covering all aspects of cultural ethnography and the installation of a recording studio.
- Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation
A workshop for members of the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation in Utah on cultural ethnography and film documentation.
- Taos Pueblo and Taos County Economic Development Corporation
A workshop for members of the Taos Pueblo and other community members in New Mexico on cultural ethnography. We also participated in the recording of the 30th anniversary celebration of the return of Blue Lake and other ancestral lands.
- Salt Song Trail
A series of pre-production and post-production workshops associated with the making of the Salt Song Trail films, including intensive Final Cut Pro workshop for Paiute tribal members.
- “Language Is Life” Conference of the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival
Background of Media Trainings
All over the world, the living voices of the elders, the traditional speakers, teachers, singers and storytellers are recorded to preserve and revitalize their cultures and their ancestral lands.
Despite the tragic loss of so many of our ancestors, Native peoples are still speaking their languages, performing their songs and practicing their rich and diverse traditions. But indigenous people and lands continue to be threatened, and it is essential that we work to protect the storehouses of history, philosophy, spirituality, healing, wisdom and knowledge of the natural world.
Native peoples are documenting their traditional arts such as food gathering and preparation, basket-making, jewelry, music, clothing, dance and regalia, song cycles, native science, health and healing, journeys, ceremony and protocols, and much more.
Cultural revitalization is a community effort including a recognition of the role of the elders and culture bearers and support for young learners. Community groups have created language programs, books accompanied by compact discs, web sites and documentaries films.
There are many different ways to preserve culture, and one of the challenges of ethnographic recording is to translate oral traditions and their protocols into recorded materials.
We use these tools to amplify the voices that need to be heard. A machine is just a machine – it’s how you use it that counts.
-- Gerald Hill (Oneida)
Nicola at workshop – Nicola Wagenberg with Taos Pueblo workshop participants.
Two key areas we have focused on in these trainings are Legacy Recordings and Contracts
LEGACY RECORDINGS are in use today and are the backbone of many language and cultural preservation and revitalization programs.
Using technology has both benefits and responsibilities. The ethnographer has to be very sensitive to community dynamics and the needs and expectations of the people recorded.
Certain songs, stories, events or ceremonies should not be recorded. And in any case, permission must be obtained before any recording or use of those recordings. We insist on Free, Prior, and Informed Consent before any recording is started.
Many ethnographic photographs, films, sounds and songs have been recorded without permission and used in ways that were never intended. It is important to know your rights and responsibilities.
CONTRACTS clarify how recordings will be used and who has control of them. RELEASE FORMS defines the relationship between the people recorded and those recording and how the materials can be used. COPYRIGHTS protect the works of its authors and participants. Other topics for consideration include the sale or distribution of recorded materials, if and where to ARCHIVE ethnographic materials and who should have access to them.
New technologies bring new challenges that are best resolved from the start.
Detailed WORK PLANS help to identify all the needs of the studio or field recording so that the whole effort from preparation to final product can be organized ahead of time.
Audio and video recording skills require both training and practice. Communities have gathered their resources to purchase and share recording equipment. The capacity to make good quality ethnographic recordings is becoming cheaper and easier. Those with ethnographic skills can train others in their community and form production teams.
The same skills used for ethnographic recording can be directly applied to number of job and business opportunities, multimedia cultural programming, filmmaking, education, cultural interpretation and the arts.
Traditional songs and stories have been used to protect sacred and traditional lands and to prevent degradation of natural and cultural resources -- cultural preservation and environmental protection go hand-in-hand.
To bring a media training to your community, please contact us for workshop rates and ways to collaborate with fundraising to cover the costs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at: 415/561-6594.