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The Aboriginal Mapping Network : a case study in the democratization of mapping Johnson, Benjamin David 1999

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T H E A B O R I G I N A L M A P P I N G N E T W O R K : A C A S E S T U D Y I N T H E D E M O C R A T I Z A T I O N O F M A P P I N G by B E N J A M I N D A V I D J O H N S O N B . A . (Honours), M c G i l l University, 1995. A THESIS S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F M A S T E R O F A R T S in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S (School of Community and Regional Planning) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Apr i l 1999 © Benjamin David Johnson, 1999. UBC Special Collections - Thesis Authorisation Form Page 1 of 1 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the Uni v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Li b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference and study. I further agree that permission f o r extensive copying of th i s thesis for sc h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by h i s or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s thesis f o r f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Dep^f^tment o The University of B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date http://\AAAAA/.library.ubc.ca/spcoll/thesauth.html 4 / 1 / 9 9 Abstract Land claims, increased control over natural resources and movement towards self-government demand that First Nations produce maps that bring local knowledge into planning and governance processes. For their mapping needs, First Nations are turning largely to geographic information systems (GIS), complex and expensive computer-based spatial database systems. They are, however, developing their technical skills independently of each other, rarely experiencing the knowledge-sharing benefits characteristic of an integrated community. To address this problem, and to help build mapping capacities in general, the Aboriginal Mapping Network was created by Ecotrust Canada, an environmental non-governmental organization, and several First Nations. Using the medium of the World Wide Web, the Network seeks to create linkages between First Nations mappers and to provide a space for the sharing of knowledge. This thesis uses a formative program evaluation framework to assess the strengths, weaknesses and potential of the nascent Network. The evaluation draws on interviews with First Nations mappers and network developers. Conclusions are drawn on how effective the Network is in developing communications linkages and facilitating knowledge sharing, and how this might continue in the future. Concurrently, the Network is used as a case study in the democratization of mapping. Capacity building in GIS technology, it is argued, w i l l allow First Nations to produce unconventional maps that articulate local worldviews and perceptions of place. A s embodiments of local knowledge, these maps wi l l in turn be used in planning, negotiations and governance to empower First Nations on their own terms. i i i Table of Contents ABSTRACT II TABLE OF CONTENTS • Ill LIST OF TABLES IV LIST OF FIGURES • V CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1 1.1 RATIONALE 2 1.2 THESIS OBJECTIVES 3 1.3 METHODS 4 1.4 THESIS ORGANIZATION 5 CHAPTER 2: MAPPING THEORY AND EMPOWERMENT THROUGH MAPS 7 2.1 MAPS AS SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONS , 7 2.2 EMPOWERMENT THROUGH MAPS 11 2.3 FIRST NATIONS, MAPPING AND GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS 16 2.4 CONCLUSION 39 CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY 41 3.1 PROGRAM EVALUATION 41 3.2 PROGRAM EVALUATION METHODS USED IN THIS RESEARCH 46 3.3 CASE STUDY METHODS 50 CHAPTER 4: THE ABORIGINAL MAPPING NETWORK 54 4.1 INSTITUTIONAL CONTEXT 55 4.2 T H E HISTORY OF THE ABORIGINAL MAPPING NETWORK 57 4.3 T H E NETWORK'S FORM 62 4.4 GOALS AND OBJECTIVES 67 CHAPTER 5: EVALUATION OF THE ABORIGINAL MAPPING NETWORK 71 5.1 CHARACTERISTICS OF FIRST NATIONS MAPPING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA 71 5.2 COMPLEXITIES IN G I S IMPLEMENTATION AND OPERATION 75 5.3 T H E PROBLEM OF ISOLATION 81 5.4 NETWORK EVALUATION 83 5.5 T H E MEETING OF GOALS AND OBJECTIVES 109 CHAPTER 6: THE NETWORK AND THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF MAPPING 112 6.1 CAPACITY BUILDING IN GIS THROUGH THE ABORIGINAL MAPPING NETWORK 113 6.2 W H A T DOES DEMOCRATIZED MAPPING M E A N ? 118 CHAPTER 7: CONCLUSION 121 CONSOLIDATED RECOMMENDATIONS 126 BIBLIOGRAPHY 129 APPENDIX I - QUESTIONS FOR NETWORK DEVELOPERS 134 APPENDIX II -INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR FIRST NATIONS MAPPERS 136 APPENDIX III - INTERVIEW SUBJECTS 138 List of Tables Table 5.1 Aboriginal Mapping Network Website: Hits Per Month V List of Figures Figure 2.1: A Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of Mt. Baker, WA 25 Figure 4.1 Layout of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 63 Figure 4.2 The Aboriginal Mapping Network Homepage 64 Chapter 1: Introduction Guided by a mandate of 'networking the aboriginal mapping community,' the Aboriginal Mapping Network aims to open up pathways of knowledge sharing and communication between First Nations mappers in British Columbia with the goal of building capacity in map production. First Nations are active mappers, and in fact are one of the fastest growing user groups in the field of geographic information systems (GIS), computer-based spatial database programs capable of producing maps. There are several reasons why First Nations are actively engaged in mapping. First, the land claims process demands identification and demarcation of traditional territories. Indigenous populations are therefore required to consolidate large amounts of spatial data to generate an image of their traditional territories as a starting point in formal land claims negotiations with the federal and provincial governments. Second, as First Nations develop stronger governance roles in the province or engage in co-management partnerships with government and industry, their resource management initiatives mandate some form of comprehensive spatial planning which in turn requires the production of maps which reflect local priorities, objectives, sensitivities and worldviews. The technologies that First Nations are adopting to produce maps to inform their land claims and resource management planning activities are expensive and complex. Establishing a GIS mapping department is very costly in both human and capital resources, and First Nations governments are often functioning in economically tenuous situations. So while mapping is a requisite component of aboriginal governance in the province, developing the means to produce maps is a compelling challenge for First Nations communities. Introduction 2 This challenge is exacerbated by a context of isolation between First Nations mappers in B . C . While many groups are developing GIS capabilities, they are more often than not doing so in the absence of communication with other mappers. Consequently, there is evidence of wasted resources and redundancy in effort. Noting this reality, members of Ecotrust Canada, an environmentalist N G O (non-governmental organization), and representatives from a number of First Nations conceptualized and developed a network for aboriginal mappers. Manifest primarily as a website on the internet, the Aboriginal Mapping Network exists to facilitate communication linkages between First Nations mapping departments with the aim of creating a higher degree of knowledge sharing than is presently the case. Its objective is to create a support network where mappers can openly share experiences, methods and information as well as consult resources relating to First Nations mapping in the province. The network's goal is to facilitate the development of mapping skills and ultimately the empowerment of aboriginal communities and nations. 1.1 Rationale The aboriginal mapping experience is a subject rarely treated in planning or geographical theory. The literature is notably sparse and is often of an informal character, appearing as websites or as conference proceedings, but rarely published in an academic context. It is the hope that this thesis w i l l help to build knowledge on First Nations mapping. The intention is to relate everyday local experience with a specific program to theories of power relations, culture and meaning. In this sense, the research relates First Nations issues to planning theory - and social theory in general - where documentation of the aboriginal mapping experience is rarely evident. Introduction 3 Additionally, it is hoped that this research wi l l have an on-the-ground impact. This program evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network offers feedback to the network's coordinators which can be used to improve its utility. If the network can realize its goal of creating knowledge-sharing linkages within the First Nations mapping community, this w i l l result in improved mapping capabilities, which wi l l in turn lead to planning that better reflects local needs, beliefs and priorities. This thesis, then, can possibly help facilitate the movement toward empowerment and community-guided development for First Nations. 1.2 Thesis Objectives The Aboriginal Mapping Network can be seen as a case of the democratization of mapping practice. Critical mapping theory suggests that maps are subjective documents that implicitly but powerfully articulate the agenda of the culture that created them (Aberley 1993, Monmonier 1991, Turnbull 1993, Wood 1992). Further, the interests portrayed on conventional maps are almost exclusively those of the dominant groups in society. It w i l l be argued in this thesis that the Aboriginal Mapping Network provides a means to develop mapping skills in First Nations communities, therefore leading to the creation of maps that convey alternative visions of reality. These maps can be used in the planning process to counterbalance what John Forester (1989) would suggest is the "misinformation" inherent in conventional maps. A s map production is generally the domain of government and industry, the development of First Nations mapping capabilities is an example of a counterbalance to the production of conventional maps. Drawing on theoretical material that problematizes maps, this case study wi l l explore the phenomenon of power articulated through maps at the local level. A n additional thesis objective therefore wi l l be to contribute to the literature that sees maps as active cultural products and articulations of specific worldviews. Introduction 4 The fundamental question that this thesis addresses is: what role can a network for aboriginal mappers play in the democratization of mapping practice, and therefore in the empowerment of First Nations in B .C .? A n d further, what are the opportunities and constraints a network faces in playing this role? Since maps play a fundamental role in the planning process, the ability of aboriginal mappers to produce maps that actively communicate a First Nations worldview wi l l improve the quality and relevance of the planning process and therefore lead to more effective local governance of lands, resources and communities. This thesis addresses these questions by undertaking a program evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network to assess the degree to which it has been effective in "networking the aboriginal mapping community" and to identify the factors that determine it effectiveness. Drawing on data from personal interviews with First Nations mappers, this evaluation wi l l offer feedback to the network coordinators on how they might improve service to the user communities. A consequent and related objective of this thesis is to contribute to capacity building in mapping practice and thereby improving the planning capabilities of First Nations. 1.3 Methods First, on the basis of documentary analyses and interviews with 'key players,' this thesis traces the history of the Aboriginal Mapping Network from its beginnings in 1996 and identifies the developers' rationale and expectations of the Network. Secondly, drawing on data from personal interviews with First Nations mappers, the thesis evaluates the network. The evaluation compares the network developers' expectations with the mappers' perceptions of the current context of aboriginal mapping practice in B . C . and their views on the network's performance. Third, this thesis draws on theories of how power relationships are articulated through maps to discuss how the network might contribute to the democratization of mapping and the consequent Introduction 5 empowering of First Nations communities. These methods are explained more fully in Chapter 3. 1.4 Thesis Organizat ion The thesis is divided into seven chapters. Following the introduction is a literature review that addresses the question of how maps articulate certain power relationships in implicit yet effective ways. The manner in which maps convey knowledge is related to John Forester's (1989) critical planning theory that examines issues of information, misinformation and power in planning. Chapter Two concludes with a review of the literature on First Nations use of a particular map-producing technology, geographic information systems (GIS), focusing specifically on the role maps play in land claims and resource management planning. The third chapter focuses on methodology, introducing program evaluation methods and case study analysis. The choice of these approaches is justified and the means of their use described. This chapter conveys to the reader why the respective methods were used, how they were applied and how the results are presented. Chapter Four sets the context for the study. It begins with a description of the institutional milieu in which the network evolved and then goes on to discuss this evolution. The need for a network of this kind is justified and the process and complexities of its development are documented. The network's present form is described, and the chapter concludes with the network's expressed goals and objectives. Chapters Five and Six comprise the analysis component of the thesis. The former is, in essence, the program evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network. It addresses the current use of the network as well as perceptions of its strengths and weaknesses. Using the data from interviews with First Nations mappers, suggestions for the network's improvement are Introduction 6 forwarded. Since the network is operating in a context of limited resources, it is important that all recommendations be realistic. Chapter Six relates the experience of the network to the realm of theory, exploring the implications of local GIS capacity building. It considers the degree to which the network can develop the mapping capabilities of First Nations mappers and what impact this might have on planning practice and therefore local empowerment. Conclusions made in this chapter, and the seventh and final chapter, wi l l refer back to the ideas expressed by John Forester and in the theory that problematizes conventional maps as subjective documents expressing the interests of the culture that produces them. They wi l l explain why it is important that First Nations communities develop the ability to create maps that embody their worldviews. 7 Chapter 2: Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps Every day we are in contact with maps; they help us make sense of the world around us and they provide us with information which we can use to make decisions. Maps are planning tools. If planning "is the guiding of future action" (Forester 1989, 3), maps can serve as decision-making aids for our anticipated activity, be it driving to Whistler, B . C . , or defining the boundaries of a community forest. Maps facilitate and enrich the planning process by unifying a diversity of data over a common spatial framework, illuminating unforeseen relationships. They thus convey knowledge in a form that can be readily used as a document to be referenced in the course of creating a plan or as a means to articulate a position. Maps, however, convey a misleading objectivity. It can be argued that maps are artifacts - socially constructed and selective in content - that tell you more about the culture that created them than what may actually be on the ground. This chapter explores the body of mapping theory that problematizes maps by suggesting that they are social constructions whose power is derived from their apparent passivity. It continues with a discussion of empowerment through local mapping which counteracts the power of conventional maps through the incorporation of local knowledge and worldviews. Questions of information and misinformation as they exist in the planning process are addressed. The final component of this chapter is a review of the use of computerized mapping (GIS) by First Nations as a means to create their own maps for use in land claims and natural resource planning. 2.1 Maps as Social Constructions Maps cannot ever expect to contain all aspects of a landscape they intend to represent. For example, you wi l l not find one map that portrays all of: indices of poverty, the distribution of Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 8 termites, areas of low precipitation, outcrops of basalt. Reality is far too complex to be faithfully recreated on a map. Maps, then, are models of reality or particular representations of 'truth.' A body of theory exists that suggests that all maps are social constructions, in that they implicitly reflect the culture of their creators (cf. Aberley 1993, Monmonier 1991, Turnbull 1993, Wood 1992). The fact that maps are simple models of reality is in itself unproblematic; when the content (specifically the selectivity thereof) of these maps is considered 'natural,' 'uncontestable,' or 'objective,' however, the implicit power of maps is actualized. We tend to reference our maps passively, uncritically accepting the information they offer. They do, however, represent one particular view of reality. The generation of alternative maps, in the case of this thesis by First Nations mappers using GIS technology, provides a counterpoint to the status quo that is portrayed in conventional maps. They present unconventional worldviews that offer First Nations planners and governments knowledge on their own terms. Maps are characterized by two facts: they represent some aspects of the landscape and they are selective (Turnbull 1993, 3). The selectivity inherent in maps reflects the culture which created them, suggesting its priorities and interests: To avoid hiding critical information in a fog of detail, the map must offer a selective, incomplete view of reality. There's no escape from the cartographic paradox: to present a useful and truthful picture, an accurate map must tell white lies (Monmonier 1991, 1). The power of maps, particularly Western maps, exists in the fact that the socially constructed nature of maps is rendered invisible by the apparent objectivity portrayed by them: "no aspect of the map is more carefully constructed than the alibi intended to absolve it of this guilt" (Wood 1992, 18). Our culture has developed an elaborate set of conventions that when applied to the mapping process, obscure the human agency that underlies this process. These conventions, however, are actively defined and redefined by our culture; they are dynamic, arbitrary and, Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 9 importantly, hidden constructions: "[conventions often follow cultural, political and even ideological interests, but i f conventions are to function properly they must be so well accepted as to become invisible" (Turnbull 1993, 8). A s Wood (1992, 70) suggests, "[t]he map is powerful precisely to the extent that the author disappears." Maps adopt a particular code that renders them incontestable portrayals of the truth. When this code is problematized or confronted, however, they move from representations of reality to the realm of opinion: "[...] no sooner are maps acknowledged as social constructions than their contingent, the conditional, their...arbitrary character is unveiled" (Wood 1992, 19). Maps, in this sense, can be deconstructed to reveal the agency of their creators. The agenda of some maps is transparent, such as the route map of an airline that conveys the "embarrassing abundance" of the company's routes (Wood 1992, 73). In other situations, a map may be more subtle. Wood (1992, 80-94), in exploring a government topographic quadrangle from New Jersey, suggests ways in which a particular agenda is articulated in a seemingly passive map. What is chosen to be marked on the map as a permanent feature, for example, is a political decision. Highways, bridges and campsites are 'permanent;' polluted streams, traditional aboriginal territories and bird habitats are not. Further, the cost of compiling data for the map limits what is included. If it can't be photographed, it is rarely recorded. The consequence is that a map, i f it is effective in rendering its creators and its conventions invisible, creates a reality where all that is included on the map is legitimate and substantive, while everything that is omitted is somehow inconsequential or illusory: "It is the isolation of everything not on the map that so potently naturalizes what's on it (what's not on the map...isn't real)" (Wood 1992, 87). The worldview of the culture that created the map is thus articulated through the medium of the material map through the process of inclusion and exclusion. The incontestable and unequivocal Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 10 nature of maps within our culture leads us to accept what we see as a factual representation of reality, rendering us accomplices in the perpetuation of the status quo. Turnbull (1993) addresses the question of indexicality in maps. A n indexical statement is dependent for its truth on its context; an indexical map is understood only within its cultural milieu. It is generally presupposed that Western maps are non-indexical in that they can be "understood independently of their context of use, the worldview, cognitive schema or culture of the mapmaker" (Turnbull 1993, 20). This universal, objective nature of Western maps lends them a certain power that is rarely challenged. Non-Western maps, alternatively, are often seen as being comprehensible only from within the culture that creates them. Turnbull argues, however, that all maps are inherently indexical. Western maps are replete with conventions such as a grid coordinate system and projections (to translate a curved surface to a flat plain) that are only decipherable after familiarity to the Western worldview is developed. The maps of Australian Aborigines are indexical in that the knowledge necessary for their interpretation is tightly controlled and conveyed as a right of passage through life. They seem opaque and impenetrable to the uninitiated. The difference with Western maps is that their indexicality is covert; Western knowledge "gains its power through denying, or rendering transparent, the inherent indexicality of all statements or knowledge claims" (Turnbull 1993, 42). The invisible character that obscures subjectivity in conventional maps gives them a power that is uncontested and illusive. This power can, however, be counteracted i f it is understood and anticipated. Power is realized through the medium of information; it can be counteracted and contested through the articulation of alternative information. The following section looks at the role information plays in the planning process and explores ways in which maps can be used to articulate agendas that challenge the status quo. Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 11 2.2 Empowerment Through Maps A s suggested above, maps can play an important role in the planning process. They can be used as points of reference in the development of plans or they can be used to convey proposed courses of action. Maps, it has been argued, portray only a certain model of reality cloaked in the guise of objectivity. Since conventional maps are often used to inform the planning process, it becomes evident that the priorities of the status quo can subtly work their way into this process and influence the scope of outcomes. The creation of alternative maps can counteract the influence conventional maps have. Maps that embody a community's worldview can serve to bring local knowledge into the planning process, therefore empowering the community to chart a representative and meaningful course of development that is sensitive to its context. John Forester (1989, 28) suggests that "information is a complex source of power in the planning process." Control of information is a fundamental component of power in planning. Forester argues that the provision of information, and, importantly, misinformation has significant implications: B y informing or misinforming citizens, power works through the management of comprehension, or obfuscation; of trust, or false assurance; of consent, or manipulated agreement; and of knowledge, or misrepresentation (Forester 1989, 45). Great emphasis is placed on awareness and anticipation of the implications of information and misinformation in planning. Misinformation can be systemic, Forester argues, and it "undermines well-informed planning and citizen action by manipulating citizens' beliefs, consent, trust and sense of relevant problems, and planners can counteract these influences" Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 12 (Forester 1989, 28). Distortions in communication can be checked by the provision of facts, expertise and warning. Maps - which consolidate, manipulate and articulate information - are key vehicles for misinformation in planning. The theory which sees maps as selective representations of a particular worldview would suggest that conventional maps are a form of misinformation, as they claim to convey 'truthful' representations of reality. In fact, they are models of reality that can, by nature, only portray a subjective vision of the world. The fact that this inherent partiality is largely invisible inhibits critical consideration of maps and consequently influences the planning process, subtly constraining it to the boundaries defined by the culture that created the maps. Counteracting these forces mandates the provision of alternative articulations of knowledge, in this case, the production of maps that embody different ways of seeing the world. John Forester (1989, 41) suggests that planners may counterbalance systemic misinformation by the production of their own information. In the case of mapping, local map-makers can create maps that are not so much examples of misinformation as enunciations of alternative points of view. Since all maps are inherently subjective creations, it must be acknowledged that local maps have no claims of being the incontestable 'truth,' but they do offer a challenge to the apparent objectivity of mainstream conventional maps. While conventional maps show one version of reality, community-based mapping presents an alternative vision which by nature is more representative of its milieu. The creation of such alternative visions is dependent on the democratization of the mapping experience. The production of maps is, for the most part, the domain of government, industry and the military. Maps are pervasive in our lives, but they are the products of those who Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 13 hold power in society: "The result is that although we have great access to maps, we have also lost the ability ourselves to conceptualize, make and use images of place" (Aberley 1993, 1). Although access to a multitude of maps is undeniable, they are predominantly articulations of established power structures. Counteracting the preponderance of conventional maps mandates the democratization of mapping through cartographic capacity building at the local level. Maps that embody a community's worldview can articulate local perceptions of their environment and infuse the planning process with knowledge that reflects community priorities and visions. The bioregional movement is one context in which locally-based mapping plays an important role. Bioregionalism is predicated on the idea of understanding and not compromising the ecological limits of the particular places in which we live: [it] calls for human society to be more closely related to nature (hence, bio), and to be more conscious of its locale, or region or life-place (therefore, region). [...] It is a proposal to ground human cultures within natural systems, to get to know one's place intimately in order to fit human communities to the Earth, not to distort the Earth to our demands (Andruss et al. 1990, 2). Our way of l iving, theory suggests, should reflect the ecological character of the bioregions in which we live. Notions of sustainability, appropriate technology and self-sufficiency are fundamental components of such thinking. The emphasis on 'getting to know one's place' suggests the importance mapping has to the bioregional movement. Bioregionalists generally advocate a grassroots approach to map-making wherein individuals create maps of their local regions as a means of articulating knowledge about their 'home places.' These maps are then used to educate the population about their bioregion and as key points of reference in local planning activities. " B y consolidating local knowledge of community history, both human and habitat conditions, and the future potential for sustainability, maps can assist in setting a broad agenda for positive change" Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 14 (Harrington 1994, 7). Bioregional mapping is done by individuals without formal training in cartography using non-technical methods (i.e. drawing, cutting, gluing and photocopying). The guiding idea behind this form of mapping is to unify local knowledge over a common and recognizable framework: the geography of the bioregion. The resulting maps are powerful documents which reveal relationships and phenomena which are rarely portrayed on conventional maps, and which assist in the "reinhabitation of place" (Aberley 1993). Parish mapping, a movement active in the United Kingdom, in many ways reflects the preoccupations of bioregionalism. The Parish Maps Project, originating in 1985, has resulted in the creation of over 1000 unconventional maps throughout Britain (King 1991, 40). The map subjects are varied and the methods used are diverse, but local knowledge and local places are the unifying elements of all maps. As Angela K ing (1991, 40) suggests: The Parish Maps Project encourages people to work together in mapping their area, including whatever features they deem important and using whatever materials they please. This heightens our awareness of place, which, in turn, heightens our desire to conserve. There exists an acknowledged contrast between parish maps and the formal Ordnance Survey maps which define the formal standard for cartography in Britain. While less precise and structured than Ordnance Survey maps, parish maps are powerful representations of local perceptions of the land. While the former gain power through their cool objectivity and implied truthfulness, parish maps serve to educate communities through the process of map production and presentation. Many other examples of the production of unconventional maps are documented. In Honduras and Panama, the invasion of indigenous lands by settlers who considered the land vacant was countered by grassroots mapping (Denniston 1994). In the context of inaccurate and misleading government maps, local communities used non-technical methods to create a picture Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 15 of indigenous life which, government cartographers concede, was superior to anything they could have done. "The political momentum created by the process raised the regional awareness of the Indians, showing them the common ground they shared with other indigenous peoples and empowering them to pursue the legal protections they deserve for their homelands" (Denniston 1994,31). In the Yuba river system in northern California, residents l iving a low-tech, "off-grid" existence employed mapping as a defensive measure against encroachment by mining and forestry interests (Snyder 1994). Two grassroots organizations, the Yuba Watershed Institute (YWI) and the Sierra Biodiversity Institute (SBI) used computerized mapping and satellite imagery to create previously unseen maps describing land ownership, wildlife habitat, population density, soil types, elevation and so on, which were used to inform land use decisions and to integrate ecological and economic concerns in local planning activities. Computerized mapping has also been used by Friends of the Earth, a U . K . environmentalist N G O (Doig 1993). Supplementing an existing digital database with information on environmental quality, pollution and more, Friends of the Earth developed the ability to create ecologically-oriented maps at a variety of scales for regions throughout Britain. It is the intention of F O E to supply this local ecological information to communities to facilitate their empowerment in environmental management. The production of maps, it has been suggested, is largely the domain of the dominant interests in society. A s models of reality, maps are inherently selective in what they contain and often implicitly convey the agenda of the status quo. If map production is democratized, however, the power of maps can be turned to the advantage of local communities and minority groups. Alternative models of reality are created which can supplement the planning process and Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 16 empower communities to develop in locally-sensitive and sustainable ways. The balance of this chapter w i l l explore how First Nations groups have used one form of mapping - geographic information systems - to consolidate local knowledge and use it in planning for land claims and resource management. 2.3 First Nations, Mapping and Geographic Information Systems Aboriginal populations are taking an increasingly active stance in the governance and management of their traditional territories. Through formal land claims processes, First Nations peoples in Canada are articulating a desire to re-acquire lands amounting to over half of the national territorial base, while bands, communities and nations are exercising governance over resources on their traditional lands. The development of First Nations governments as self-sustaining political institutions is heavily dependent on the resolution of these two issues: land claims settlement and management of local resources (Makokis and Buckley 1991). Land claims and resource management planning are activities involving the acquisition, manipulation and analysis of data that has a fundamental spatial component. For example, land claims are predicated on the formal identification of places of traditional occupancy and use by those undertaking the claim while indigenous natural resource governance is reflective of local values expressed in relation to inherently spatial phenomena. Conventional maps of such subjects rarely exist. The landscape in which First Nations traditional territories are contained has been mapped, but for the most part this has been done by government and industry. Consequently, these maps reflect a particular point of view. They describe topography, settlements, forestry cutblocks and political boundaries, but not traditional hunting and harvesting grounds, local history or places of spiritual importance. First Nations are Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 17 thus forced to create their own maps which embody knowledge of place and can be used in land claims and resource management planning. To produce these maps, many groups are turning towards digital mapping, specifically geographic information systems. Geographic information systems (GIS) are a computer-based means to consolidate and analyse spatially-referenced data. What separates GIS from a traditional digital database is its geographical component wherein all data are explicitly assigned a real-world location, allowing the integration of diverse data types and complex topological analyses (buffering, overlays). GIS is a powerful planning tool for the provision of information to help resolve problems with a spatial character. First Nations have applied GIS technology extensively in planning applications and are proving to be one of the fastest-growing new user groups of GIS. Using GIS, they are creating spatial documents that counterbalance the maps produced by government. They are using this means of map production to consolidate local knowledge and interpretations of place in map form. These maps, in turn, are used to strengthen the First Nations planning process, leading to informed and empowered First Nations governance. Using GIS, aboriginal groups are effectively integrating contemporary technology with traditional knowledge to help realise ecologically and traditionally relevant planning decisions. This section explores the secondary sources documenting the contemporary use of GIS by First Nations. It begins with a brief introduction to aboriginal mapping followed by a description of GIS technology. The relevance of GIS to the First Nations context is then discussed. Problems in reconciling traditional spatial knowledge with a digital information system predicated on European cartographic concepts are considered, followed by a look at real-life applications of GIS, exploring the nature of projects undertaken throughout North America. Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 1 8 Finally, the complexities of implementing a GIS in the unique First Nations context are addressed. 2.3.1 Aboriginal Mapping Increasing attention is being paid to the value of aboriginal maps as effective embodiments and conveyors of knowledge. Western society has traditionally seen maps of other cultures as understandable only from within their own milieu while it has imparted a supposed universality on its own maps. Turnbull (1993) argues that both Western and aboriginal maps are constructions which require a knowledge of cultural conventions before they can be interpreted. Western maps, for example, are based on a coordinate system - a grid - that is an arbitrary and variable construction, and can make no claims of universality. The grid cannot transcend the culture in which it was created. The maps of Australian Aborigines are not based on a coordinate system nor are they characterized by a standardized mode of representation that could be understood by non-Aborigines. Their maps are largely unrecognizable as 'maps' from a Western perspective. They are often naturalistic in form, with spatial information encoded in semi-abstract animal images. Nonetheless, they "allow people to know about and travel across unknown, even distant territory" (Turnbull 1993, 26). These maps are just as effective in consolidating and communicating spatial knowledge as Western maps, but they mandate familiarity with an established set of cultural conventions. Just as you have to understand the grid system and cardinal directions to interpret a western map, to derive knowledge from an Aborigine map you must "know something of the stories, songs and dances of the creation of the landscape" (Turnbull 1993, 33). Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 19 The maps of Marshall Islanders in Micronesia appear similarly abstract to the unfamiliar eye but are incredibly rich conveyors of spatial information (Aberley 1993). Having to navigate across vast stretches of open ocean to reach distant atolls, these cultures created a technology that describes "the complex interaction of tides, currents and wind-driven wave patterns that are replicated in cycles over time" (Aberley 1993, 10). Palm leaf ribs tied together with coconut fibre form complex geometric patterns which describe wave characteristics. Shells represent islands or atolls. These maps are used in navigation and for conveying knowledge about the environment. As with the maps of the Aborigines and with our own maps, these require education in the code which deciphers their knowledge. Little formal documentation exists of traditional mapping practices by First Nations in British Columbia. There is an awareness that aboriginal peoples l iving here maintain an acute spatial knowledge, but whether or not these were historically conveyed in material map form is the subject of limited research. Hugh Brody (1981) explores the articulation of spatial knowledge in B . C . in Maps and Dreams. In the late 1970s, the traditional territory of the Athapaskan peoples of Northeastern B . C . was threatened by the proposed Alasakan Natural Gas Pipeline. To communicate the value of this territory, a traditional use occupancy study was undertaken using conventional maps. The First Nations who lived there expressed their inherent cognitive knowledge of the landscape on these maps, l inking l iv ing spatial knowledge and representations of that space: The majority of men and many of the women in seven of the region's nine reserves drew maps of their land use. They also explained the seasonal round, shared knowledge, described changes over time, and indicated other aspects of land occupancy that underpin and interpret the information they drew on their maps. [...] The findings of such a thoroughgoing land-use and occupancy study cannot easily be denied. The Indians' maps are a strong affirmation of the peoples' enduring presence on the land (Brody 1981, 148-149). Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 20 Spatial knowledge is a fundamental component of aboriginal life throughout the world. Some cultures have articulated this knowledge in map form, while for other peoples it is alive in the oral tradition or as mental maps. The balance of this chapter w i l l focus on the use of a specific technology - geographic information systems - as a tool to make maps which convey indigenous perceptions of the landscape. 2.3.2 Geographic Information Systems (GIS) "Geographic information systems (GIS) are computer-based systems that are used to store and manipulate geographic information" (Aranoff 1989, 1). What differentiates GIS from a traditional database system is the assignation of location information to data. Non-spatial, or attribute, data is assigned an explicit geographic reference that corresponds to a real-world location measured in, for example, latitude and longitude or U T M (Universal Transverse Mercator) grid co-ordinates. Alternatively, information is related implicit ly to location through reference to addresses, census tracts, land parcels, and so on, which is in turn related to explicit geographic references, a process called 'geocoding' (Environmental Systems Research Institute 1998). The power of a GIS lies in this integration of spatial data and attribute data. This linkage enables the user to reconcile diverse data in an absolute co-ordinate system. Within a GIS, information is stored in distinct thematic layers. The connection between attribute information and real-world location data enables these layers to be related to each other. A s such, these thematic layers can be accurately superimposed upon each other; an action which can reveal complex spatial relationships between variables. Such self-evident relationships are generally invisible in a non-spatial database system. Additionally, the real-world spatial component within Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 21 a GIS allows for the inclusion of measurement capabilities within a GIS analysis. For example, i f an overlay of several thematic layers results in the identification of an area that meets certain criteria, this area can be accurately and instantaneously measured in conventional areal units (e.g. square metres). Similarly, GIS also facilitates proximity analysis, a process that defines distances between units (Aranoff 1989, 223). Proximity analysis enables the GIS user to identify all occurrences of a certain variable within a given distance of an object or area. For example, a GIS can identify all structures in a town that are within a fifty metre distance (or buffer) on each side of a sensitive salmon-bearing stream. The Environmental Systems Research Institute (1998) identifies five general processes that are performed by a geographic information system: input, manipulation, management, query and analysis, and visualization. • To input data into a GIS, it must be translated into a format the system can understand. For geographic data this might involve digitizing from paper maps (translating from analogue to digital format). Non-spatial attribute data must also be made compatible with the geographic data, a process that involves the creation of common identifying elements (i.e. census tract numbers) that relate a geographic element to its attribute information. • Manipulation of the data may also prove necessary. If, for example, your geographic information exists at a variety of different spatial scales or map projections, some process wi l l be necessary to make them compatible with each other prior to analysis. The inclusion of a variety of thematic layers in a GIS results in a complex collection of data elements. • The management of data is often dependent on database management system ( D B M S ) software. Such systems are generally based on relational concepts, wherein tables of data are linked together by linkages between common fields. This internally-referencing system facilitates powerful analyses while maintaining a logical and straightforward structure. • The structure of a GIS allows for a wide variety of spatial queries and analyses to be performed on the data. These can range from simple 'point-and-click' queries to identification of elements that meet certain criteria to complex topological overlays wherein entirely new geographic structures are created as the result of the merging of different thematic layers. The fundamental analytical tools within a GIS are those mentioned above, the overlay and proximity analysis. • Finally, visualization addresses the question of displaying the results of GIS operations. GIS Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 22 enables the production of maps that can be tailored to suit given questions and circumstances. Moreover, the database structure within GIS allows the dynamic updating of information and thus the rapid generation of up-to-date and accurate maps, an inherent drawback of manual cartography or non-GIS based digital map-making. GIS can also produce output such as three-dimensional representations of topography (digital elevation models or D E M ' s ) or digital maps that can be incorporated into reports or multimedia presentations. GIS is a powerful yet complex technology. The following sections wi l l address how it has found a place in First Nations planning activities and some of the ways in which groups have experienced difficulties undertaking GIS analyses. 2.3.3 Applicability of GIS to the First Nations Context GIS is becoming increasingly popular as a means of map production for First Nations groups. As suggested earlier, GIS is an important means of infusing knowledge into the spatial planning issues - land claims and resource management - that many First Nations groups are addressing at present. Land claims, for example, involve the integration and exploration of a wide variety of data. In determining the extent of a group's original territory, a fundamental component of a land claims settlement, numerous data layers concerning traditional use and occupancy can be overlaid in a GIS, resulting in the production of a map identifying a claim area. The layers used in the analysis might include historical and contemporary fishing and hunting sites, sacred areas, burial grounds, settlements, traditional gathering areas, trail corridors and so on (Asch and Tychon 1993, Makokis and Buckley 1991, Robinson and Sawicki 1996, 122). Likewise, in resource management planning, GIS analyses incorporate layers based on timber stands, road access, tourism and recreation capability, ecological sensitivity, wildlife habitats as well as cultural criteria (Brandt 1995). This integration of different data elements over real-world space suggests the relevance of GIS to First Nations mapping concerns. Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 23 First Nations planning activity is often typified by its inherently legal component. Marozas (1991, 77) suggests that due to its spatial character, "GIS technology is well suited to provide litigation support." Land claims proposals are dependent on a high degree of spatial precision in order to be defendable in court, a rigorousness that GIS can provide. In essence, GIS conveys an air of scientific objectivity required within the legal system:, "[a] graphic representation or map is likely to enhance a court's understanding, synthesis, and resolution of a land dispute[...]" (Marozas 1991, 78). GIS, used in conjunction with a global positioning system (GPS) - a device that uses satellite signals to accurately pinpoint ground position in terms of global co-ordinate systems (i.e. latitude and longitude) - can provide the precision mandated by the legal demands of land claims and resource management. It has been suggested that GIS has the ability to produce maps that reflect a worldview held by many aboriginal people - one that celebrates a holistic rather than reductionist conceptualisation of the environment. The inclusion of a diversity of thematic layers within a GIS results in the creation of maps "that move some way towards representing landscape as an integrated whole, a view that is reflective of native environmental images" (Duerden and Keller 1992, 14). GIS enables First Nations to identify and consolidate information that characterises the landscape in terms that they are familiar with. This process of envisioning the characteristics of a landscape and integrating them into a GIS is an empowering process for a community, band or nation, for it formalises an integration of traditional knowledge and contemporary technology applicable to land claims and resource management (Robinson and Sawicki 1996, 122). Duerden and Johnson (1993, 729) state: "GIS proves to be a useful tool in bridging the gap between traditional landscape images and the demand for formal cartographic representations of land necessary for land claim negotiation." Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps I1 While GIS may possess the ability to incorporate traditional ways of knowing into its analyses, reconciling First Nations spatial knowledge with a digital information system based on European cartographic and scientific concepts is not straightforward. Indigenous knowledge "describes home and action space, is innate and sustained knowledge about the land, identifies issues of immediate significance, and encodes the information about the environment in a language a region's inhabitants understand" (Duerden and Kuhn 1993). First Nations spatial knowledge exists often in the "informal" realm of oral tradition and oral history: "native peoples encode land use information mentally, viewing 'land' as a holistic environment which is the context for, and often quite inseparable from, life" (Duerden and Keller 1992, 11). Conversely, the western scientific tradition formally classifies landscapes according to rigorous schemes predicated on geology, geomorphology, biology, and so on. Duerden and Kuhn (1993) suggest that "the form and apparent informality of [indigenous] information does not sit comfortably with the western scientific tradition." This tradition, on the other hand, classifies, quantifies and formally maps "aspects of land use, treating land as a commodity on which people live which can be abstracted easily from its broader context" (Duerden and Kel ler 1992,11). Both approaches, however, maintain a legitimacy and relevance to the planning interests of First Nations. It is important to consider ways of reconciling the two. "[M]ost GIS applications have been traditionally concerned only with scientifically-derived data" (Robinson and Sawicki 1996,128). The application of GIS analysis to problems of interest to First Nations mandates the incorporation of traditional knowledge. The spatial analytical capabilities of this technology, as mentioned previously, offer great potential to aid in land-oriented decision making. The quantifiable and spatially accurate nature of GIS maps supports First Nations positions within political negotiations and legal contexts. The problem Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 25 remains, however, regarding the 'informality' of traditional knowledge. There are several ways to address this issue. First of all , by its very nature GIS has the potential to be more reflective of a holistic worldview than static analogue maps. The ability to layer diverse and subjectively chosen themes, variables and landscape characteristics can more closely approximate a less reductionist, more encompassing environment. The update-able character of GIS, moreover, can incorporate dynamic conditions in the real world into the analysis. When the Council for Yukon Indians (CYI) initiated a territory-wide digital mapping project in 1989, they took the standard topographic and planimetric maps provided by the government and augmented them with culturally-relevant layers incorporating traditional boundaries, historical information, and resource-use information, resulting in map coverages that were more sympathetic with local landscape perceptions (Duerden and Johnson 1993, 728). Figure 2.1: A Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of Mt . Baker, W A 1 The inclusion of such layers, however, was not completely sufficient in facilitating visualization of the landscape, particularly by elders unfamiliar with such formalised geographic 1 From "Digital Elevation Models: U S G S Digital Elevation Model Information.' Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 26 information as topographic maps. In the case of the C Y I , GIS was used to create digital elevation models ( D E M ' s ) - computer-generated three-dimensional representations of terrain surfaces - from the digital geographical data. Essentially, the GIS was used to create on-the-ground perspective views that placed the informant in a familiar location or viewpoint. The result was an effective understanding of the terrain and identification of "trails, archaeological sites, burial grounds and other culturally-important sites at a highly localised scale" (Duerden and Johnson 1993, 729). D E M ' s are also relevant to resource management applications as they embody the potential to illustrate future outcomes of plans and proposals, such as forestry cutblocks, mining developments, and road construction, that impact on the landscape. 2.3.4 Applications of GIS by First Nations GIS, as suggested, has significant potential as a means of culturally-sensitive map production, and thus as a spatial decision-making tool for First Nations. Despite the complexities of reconciling traditional knowledge with a formalised digital technology, First Nations groups are applying GIS to a wide variety of planning concerns ranging from land claims settlement to health concerns to forestry management. The intention of this section is to explore an assortment of case studies, looking first at applications in the land claims process, then exploring resource management initiatives using GIS. 2.3.3.1 Land Claims First Nations are increasingly active in pursuing formal land claims. The land claims process involves the acquisition and analysis of large volumes of data as groups make efforts to reconstruct their traditional territorial base. GIS has proven to be an effective means of Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 27 compiling this data, facilitating spatial decision-making and supplementing legal propositions for the recovery of territory. Duerden and Keller (1992) and Duerden and Johnson (1993) address the relevance of GIS to the land selection process. They suggest three tasks to which GIS technology is applicable in this context. First, GIS is used to aid in the "identification of areas of use and occupancy as a basis for establishing legitimacy of a claim". Data which represent the group's conception of their land, including historical uses, cultural sites, and harvesting areas, is incorporated into a GIS. Thematic layers are overlaid and an image of traditional territory produced, serving as the foundation of a land claims proposal. Fol lowing this land-use inventory, a second stage involves identification of land selection priorities. Empirical evidence shows that First Nations typically retain less than one-tenth of their traditional territory after the settlement process, therefore it is important that they identify areas of high economic and cultural value for retention (Duerden and Johnson 1993, 727). This process involves defining what criteria are valuable in terms of present and future usage and the identification of these land areas within the group's traditional territories as well as excluding land unobtainable due to government constraints (Duerden and Keller 1992, 13). It is here where a GIS overlay process, preferably with weighted thematic layers reflecting local valuation, can be used to identify areas that meet the greatest number of criteria for retention. These areas are then presented in the negotiation as an optimal scenario in the land claim. GIS may also be applicable to a third stage in the negotiation process. A s the claims progress, First Nations groups can explore alternative settlement scenarios and present their own proposals in an iterative manner using a GIS (Duerden and Johnson 1993, 727). The flexibility and rapid update capabilities of GIS render it an effective and efficient evaluative tool; assessing Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 28 and generating alternatives using analogue technology (paper maps) would prove time-consuming and difficult. Moreover, the geographic characteristics inherent in a GIS give these generated responses the spatial accuracy demanded in legal cases. Cit ing land restoration litigation cases in the United States, Marozas (1991, 85) states "[...] the role of GIS is to provide an unbiased spatial database that can be queried by both parties." A n d "[...] the capability to provide such information as testimony increases the ability of the court to make its decision." GIS, therefore, can be used by First Nations to construct a realistic vision of their traditional territories, assess areas with the greatest value for retention, analyse alternative scenarios as they are put forward and present effective and accurate proposals for settlement. A number of documented cases of GIS use in land claims exist. The Dene of the Northwest Territories, Yukon, northern British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, for example, have been applying digital information technology to their land claims explorations since 1981 (Asch and Tychon 1993). The data were drawn from the Dene Mapping Project initiated in 1974 wherein individuals marked on 1:250,000 map sheets "hunting and trapping trails; fishing areas; species sought; the years, seasons and frequency of use; and in some cases cabins, camps, and important cultural sites" (Asch and Tychon 1993, 732). The objective of this exercise was to identify the extent of land use and occupancy between 1890 and 1975. Computerisation of the data involved the creation of two databases. The first was a trail database, essentially a digitized geographic coverage of trapper activity generated from the work done on the original paper map sheets. The second was a tabular database incorporating biographical/use data - including the specifics of trail usage, biographical information on the trappers, and source information - and segment data, which served to link the biographical/use data with the trail database, creating a comprehensive and functional relational database Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 29 structure. The Dene Mapping Project digital databases have been used for a number of applications including land claims negotiations with the federal government, border placement between Denedeh and Nunavut, and exploration of overlapping Dene/Metis - Inuvialut land use in the Inuvialut settlement region (Asch and Tychon 1993, 733). Between 1989 and 1991, the Council for Yukon Indians, an umbrella group representing fourteen First Nations, worked to create digital maps of each nation's traditional territory based on topography, historical boundaries and other culturally-relevant information (Duerden and Johnson 1993, 728). The result was the creation of a complete digital coverage of the Yukon territory at a scale of 1:250,000. In 1991, this information was used in formal land claims negotiations with the federal government resulting in a settlement covering 41,000 square kilometres. A succeeding stage involved the selection of land to be retained from their traditional territories by individual First Nations, an exercise that could be realized at a more local scale as many communities possessed their own GIS analysis facilities based on compatible hardware and software platforms. Other documented cases of GIS use in land claims include the Zuni Pueblo of New Mexico and the Shuswap Nation of British Columbia. Beginning in 1987, the Zuni sought to calculate the total acreage of land taken from the Zuni Aboriginal Area between 1846 and 1939 with the aim of receiving accurate monetary compensation (Marozas 1991). Translating non-graphic descriptions of the appropriated lands into digital cartographic format resulted in the identification of 255,266 additional acres of land beyond an original Zuni estimation. The analytical capabilities of the GIS facilitated the visualization and quantification of appropriated aboriginal land in the legal process, and resulted in a significant appreciation in the monetary compensation offered to the Zuni tribe. In 1991, the Shuswap Nation began to investigate the Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 30 possibilities of using GIS "as a tool to help settle issues of historical, cultural, economic, social, and political value to them" (Le Dressay 1993, 701). One application of GIS was the creation of digital maps of traditional boundary information by Shuswap communities. The synthesis of this data is intended to form the basis of the comprehensive land claim for the entire Shuswap Nation. 2.3.3.2 Resource Management The outcome of land claims settlements is the creation of autonomous or semi-autonomous governance structures. A n implication of this is the management of local economies with the aim of maintaining and increasing the independence of the newfound political entities. Makokis and Buckley (The Role of Integrated Resource Management...) suggest: "[i]n order to operate and survive as self-governing political nations, Indian bands must first and foremost develop an economic infrastructure to sustain their political institutions. To achieve this it is imperative that economic resources be identified and a resource management strategy be developed and implemented." Marozas (1991, 91) likewise identifies a progression from traditional territory designation to legal land claims settlement to management of newly acquired land, a process to which GIS can be applied at each stage. A s with land claims, the ability of GIS to store, process and analyse large quantities of spatial data is proving useful in the First Nations mapping for resource planning context. Effective resource management requires the input of disparate data describing social, ecological and environmental phenomena, and the ability to respond flexibly and dynamically to rapidly changing real world conditions, characteristics inherent in GIS (Makokis and Buckley 1991). A rich variety of approaches have been taken and many innovative applications realised in the field of resource management by First Nations. Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 31 One such example is the resource management initiative undertaken by the Lake Superior First Nations Development Trust ( L S F N D T ) with the assistance of the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) (Neto 1996b). The focus of the project is the integration of the Fort Wi l l i am First Nation (a member of L S F N D T ) forest reserve and management data with traditional land values such as historical information, burial grounds, and fishing and hunting areas, within a GIS. The intention is to develop a comprehensive picture of the landscape before resource extraction begins so that development might be sympathetic with locally-held values. A similar approach was taken in the case of the Neskonlith Band, a member of the Shuswap Nation in British Columbia. In the context of a resource-rich environment and a history of outside exploitation (the band has imposed a moratorium on logging since 1970 to counter forestry abuses) a GIS analysis was initiated to explore the implications of alternative development scenarios (Mackasey 1993). With the aid of a GIS, three management alternatives for Neskonlith land were generated: economic, ecological and balanced. The economic alternative was predicated on the maximisation of short-term profits and utilised nine data layers including resort and golf course development, forestry, aquaculture, range, cultivation and so on. The second alternative, the ecological approach, incorporated twenty-five layers such as wildlife corridors, cultural sites, traditional uses, forestry, and riparian zones. The third alternative, balanced, sought to illustrate a middle ground between immediate exploitation and ecological preservation and used eighteen data layers. The aim of the project was not to define an explicit resource management plan, but rather to illuminate in a compelling and visual way the outcomes and trade-offs inherent to various management alternatives. A s the band begins to move in the direction of resource management, this framework wi l l serve to inform future decisions. Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 32 With an intention to "preserve its rich historical heritage, promote economic development and efficient land management," the Winnebago, or Ho Chunk, nation of Wisconsin established a GIS division in 1991 (He 1995). A variety of diverse and innovative projects were initiated. The Land and Population Mapping project was created as a source to inform an overall land and human service management plan. The layers in A R C / I N F O (GIS software) format included roads, hydrography and population data. Another project involved the creation of a spatial model to analyse and predict the location of burial mounds. Mapping the relationship between twenty identified burial mounds and a suite of environmental characteristics, a GIS was used to indicate areas with high probabilities of mound sites. Recognising a high correlation between historical vegetation data, soil characteristics and the existence of burial mounds, GIS contributed to a richer understanding of the function and meaning of these mounds, knowledge much appreciated by Ho Chunk elders. GIS was also beneficial in the reacquisition of traditional lands containing sixty-four effigy mounds and the development of a management plan for this area incorporating "mound restoration, buffalo range, cultural park development, etc." (He 1995). In addition to these projects, the Ho Chunk Nation has used GIS analysis in health and housing management studies. GIS has been applied by First Nations to resource management issues in numerous other contexts. The E . A . G . L . E . (Effects on Aboriginals from the Great Lakes Environment) Project explored the problem of the ingestion of toxic chemicals by First Nations consuming fish and wi ld meat (Neto 1996a). The analysis involved using a GIS to map the interrelationship between the presence of pollutants and the traditional fishing and hunting sites of sixty-one First Nations communities. The Gwich ' i n community of the Northwest Territories maintain a rich spatial knowledge they feel has been fundamental to their survival (Neto 1996d). With the presence of Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 33 new opportunities to manage local resources in the context of a Comprehensive Land Cla im agreement, the community took steps to adopt GIS as a planning tool in the summer of 1994. In a co-management scheme similar to the Fort Wi l l i am First Nation, the Pueblo of Jemez, New Mexico , working with private and public sector institutions, has established a GIS operation to record, quantify and analyse natural and cultural resources important to them (Pueblo of Jemez 1998). The mandate of the GIS project is to effectively recognise and assess impacts on local resources and to supplement resource management activities. GIS, used as a map-producing, and thus a decision-making, tool, has assisted First Nations in developing resource management strategies within their jurisdiction and thus move more readily towards true self-governance and independence. The capabilities of the technology have been employed in a wide variety of applications which serve to provide First Nations with a richer understanding of their land as well as explore the implications of alternative development scenarios. Implementing a GIS, however, is a complex and challenging exercise. The following section wi l l discuss the frustrations various First Nations have had with setting up GIS as well as explore some of the solutions they have applied to these problems. 2.3.5 The Complexities of GIS Implementation While GIS offers great potential as a means to consolidate, in map form, knowledge applicable to issues of land claims and resource management, establishing a geographic information system has proved problematic for numerous First Nations groups. A s a computer-based technology, GIS is expensive, requires extensive training and demands significant amounts of high quality data i f the output is to be meaningful and beneficial. These issues seem generally Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 34 applicable to the majority of First Nations experience with GIS and are important factors to consider for any group considering the adoption of the technology. Many organizations of diverse scales are implementing GIS technology. It is clear that this process is not simple. In addressing the issue of GIS implementation in an organizational context, Johnson and Dyke (1997) identify a suite of requisite factors for successful adoption of GIS. These factors include: • A person knowledgeable in GIS to champion its adoption in the organization; • High-level management support; • GIS education and training for affected employees and management; • Co-ordination of GIS development and staff continuity; • Completion of a user needs assessment; • Clear goals and objectives defined for the GIS department; • A defined funding plan (Johnson and Dyke 1997, 57). While capable of addressing some of these issues, First Nations are constrained significantly by resource limitations, both temporal and financial. These limitations not only impact on the ability of First Nations to adopt GIS systems, but also to engage in future analyses. It w i l l be suggested below how such constraints affect the ability of aboriginal communities to produce local, culturally relevant maps. Le Dressay (1993) identifies four general areas of difficulty the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council (SNTC) experienced in implementing a GIS (listed in perceived order of importance): 1) GIS funding; 2) data acquisition; 3) organisation, personnel selection and training; and 4) hardware and software selection. These S N T C ' s difficulties are not unique, but rather are apparent in many First Nations cases. Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 35 2.3.4.1 Funding and Finances Funding problems are characteristic of many First Nations mapping endeavours due to the costly nature of system implementation and maintenance (Le Dressay 1993; Marozas 1991, 1993 ). The use of a GIS requires a long term financial commitment, yet in many cases adequate resources are simply unavailable due to the fact that GIS, as yet, is not considered a fundamental component of First Nations infrastructure (Le Dressay 1993, 704). A n awareness of this fact exists and groups have taken steps to allay the problem of financial difficulties. Drawing on the Shuswap Nation experience, L e Dressay (1993, 704-705) suggests the need for First Nations to develop an implementation strategy that reflects funding realities, to generate community support for GIS as soon as possible, and to establish external funding partnerships. Such partnerships were developed by the Ho Chunk Nation of Wisconsin after they suffered a "severe financial crisis" while setting up their GIS department (He 1995). Through the development of alliances with a GIS software company (ESRI) and a hardware company (Summagraphics), and with aid from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) , the Nation was able to maintain an active department engaged in a wide variety of planning activities. It is also important to look beyond the present in planning a GIS to maintain the viability of the program in future analyses. Infrastructure and data, as expensive elements of a GIS, should be oriented towards continued use, not just present problems (Neto 1996a). 2.3.4.2 Data Acquisition The quality of any GIS analysis is dependent on the quality of data used. Aboriginal groups are not alone in experiencing difficulties with data. Rowley (1993, 2) suggests that "the overriding factor inhibiting the success of GIS has been data." The problems with spatial data Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 36 are numerous. In many cases, the quality of the data may be suspect, in that it can be incomplete, inaccurate or of unknown origin. Further, computerizing spatial data is very expensive and therefore can compromise one's ability to map efficiently. Finally, access to data may be restricted; the appropriate data for a given analysis may exist, but it may be made unavailable for use by its creators. Acquiring data has proved to be a problem for First Nations due to its expense and problems with data availability and accuracy (Makokis and Buckley 1991). In the Shuswap case, it was found that the optimal digital geographical data source, provincial Terrain Resource Inventory Maps (TRIM) were prohibitively expensive at the desired scale of 1:20,000 (Le Dressay 1993, 706). To cover the Nation's territory in T R I M format was estimated to cost $700,000, far beyond the means of the program. Moreover, much of the land area (approximately one-half) is unmapped, a reality across many First Nations territories (Marozas 1991, 90). Alternative digital coverages are available from the Ministry of Forests, but these are considered outdated, inaccurate or insufficient for Shuswap needs. Due to the legal nature of the land claims process and the demands of resource management, spatial accuracy is of fundamental importance to First Nations planning activities. The E . A . G . L . E . project has likewise experienced problems with the acquisition of data: "the largest obstacle to date has been with purchasing and assembling clean basemaps. Much of their time has been spent editing the maps to ensure accuracy"(Neto 1996a). Quality data is clearly of high importance for meaningful GIS use, yet problems of data cost and quality are pervasive. Accordingly, First Nations are forced to commit substantial resources to the acquisition and generation of useful data. A s with funding in general, groups have explored creative responses to the issue. The Shuswap Nation, for example, is seeking to Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 37 subcontract T R I M mapping work from the provincial government in order to acquire accurate base maps and build GIS capacity within the Nation (Le Dressay 1993, 707). Despite such approaches, data shortcomings and expense remain a significant stumbling block for applications in GIS by First Nations. 2.3.4.3 Training and Capacity Building In addition to funding and data difficulties, First Nations must also address the question of skills and training. To avoid the excessive cost of hiring outside consultants and technicians and to develop internal independence, the necessity arises for local capacity-building. GIS, however, is generally difficult to use and the learning curve steep (see Makokis and Buckley 1991; Neto 1996f; Marozas 1993, 691). Efforts must therefore be made to develop skills locally through training programs and partnerships. In the case of the H o Chunk Nation, not long after their GIS program was introduced, a short training course was given to provide initial familiarity with GIS to Nation members with the aim of providing community understanding and support for the project (He 1995). In addition, a relationship was established with the Bureau of Indian Affairs who provided formal training for Ho Chunk program staff. A s mentioned previously, the Shuswap nation has envisioned a partnership with the British Columbia provincial government to subcontract mapping services with the aim of augmenting internal GIS skills. A further educational strategy evident in the Shuswap case is the installation of GIS equipment in several communities, the provision of initial training and the commencement of a concise project characterised by tangible results - in this case, the mapping of traditional territory for a comprehensive land claim. A dissemination of basic GIS skills and the generation of community support are the intended outcomes of this strategy. Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 38 Robinson and Sawicki (1996) are advocates of a participatory action research (PAR) approach to GIS training in the First Nations context. In essence, P A R is predicated on community activism, local resource building and self-reliant development. Although non-local consultants and technicians may possess GIS skills, their role is to provide training, share knowledge and build local capacity with the aim of "working themselves out of their jobs within a specified time" (Robinson and Sawicki 1996, 123). In the P A R scheme, external experts are sharers of information rather than permanent additions to local GIS projects. Successful implementation of a GIS is dependent on the existence of well-trained operators and managers who are sensitive to local conditions. The complexity of the technology can prove intimidating to new users, but creative approaches to education can result in a sound skil l base and effective community buy-in, a necessity in the context of limited resources. 2.3.4.4 Hardware and Software Considerations First Nations wishing to establish a GIS program are presented with an intimidating and expensive array of hardware and software alternatives. Choosing a GIS package should not be the starting point in the creation of a GIS program. Rather, the decision should be made after the scope of GIS applications is understood: "the system selection should be based on the organisation's needs, the extent of the information base to be entered into a system, and the nature of the data analysis requirements" (Le Dressay 1993, 708). This system should incorporate certain fundamental components, such as an intuitive interface, a spatial referencing system, query capabilities and the ability to read and export a variety of data types (Robinson and Sawicki 1996, 125). Additionally, the hardware and software choice must be sympathetic to the constraints imposed by limited resources. Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 39 In choosing their GIS system, the Shuswap Nation Tribal Counci l used two methods (Le Dressay 1993, 708-709). First they held, at their own expense, an Integrated Resource Management Workshop to which they invited industry representatives who were given the opportunity to present the applicability of their products to Shuswap present and future needs. Second, they researched a variety of software packages and generated an evaluative matrix based on the criteria: ease of use and learning; analytical capability; application development capacity; information interchange capacity; use by potential information sources; support; and cost. Each GIS package was ranked on a five-point scale for each variable and the figures summed. More consideration was given, understandably, to ease of use, cost and application development criteria. Continued hardware improvements and price decreases are resulting in significantly greater performance for one's investment, while competition in the GIS software market is stimulating the creation of sophisticated products at reasonable prices (Robinson and Sawicki 1996, 126). Accordingly, the ability to realise powerful GIS analyses is possible. Wi th some careful forethought, First Nations can acquire GIS 's that are wel l suited to their planning intentions without draining their financial resources. Purchasing a system, however, does not confer the ability to engage in effective application of GIS technology. The barriers of data acquisition, financing and user training remain to be overcome, thus the necessity of thoughtful and well-informed project planning. 2.4 Conclusion This section is meant to present the breadth and complexity of the use of a particular map-producing technology - geographic information systems - by First Nations communities. Mapping Theory and Empowerment Through Maps 4 0 The challenge of creating maps which represent an indigenous worldview is suggestive of the importance such maps hold. Conventional, mainstream maps represent one model of reality; this model is countered by the production of maps by aboriginal communities who are cognisant of the inherent and inescapable need to create their own models of reality. A willingness to tackle the complexity and expense of GIS is indicative of an awareness, on the part of First Nations mappers, to create cartographic documents that are powerful enough to counter those created by the government and industry. When the Nisga'a nation used GIS in a 1993 presentation with the government concerning their land claim, their dynamic computer-generated and computer-presented maps eclipsed the low-tech presentation by the government: "Probably for the first time in Canada, a local government, and in this case an aboriginal one, had challenged centralised government agencies in the 'information game,' and had come out on top" (Pearse 1994, 112). This scenario was a true articulation of the power of maps, where the First Nations countered the government's version of reality through the presentation a seemingly valid and inherently more powerful version of reality manifest in map form. The balance of this thesis will focus on the question of capacity building in GIS mapping for First Nations by the Aboriginal Mapping Network. With the power of maps described and the practice and complexities of GIS use by First Nations noted, this thesis can begin to explore how one entity, the network, can assist in the development of mapping skills for aboriginal mappers, leading them to create spatial documents that are meaningful articulations of indigenous worldviews. Moreover, these maps can counteract what John Forester (1989) defines as 'misinformation' emanating from the status quo. As the Nisga'a example suggests, First Nations maps can stand on equal footing with conventional maps, illuminating and eventually realising development paths that may otherwise have remained invisible. Chapter 3: Methodology This exploration of the Aboriginal Mapping Network employs two sometimes related methodological frameworks: the program evaluation and the case study. These conceptions are not mutually exclusive, and in fact often converge (Yin 1994, 14). Program evaluation, as the name suggests, is a means of assessing the practicality, worth and function of a course of action made in response to a perceived situation. The Aboriginal Mapping Network, in this case, is the program evaluated as a means to build GIS capacities for First Nations. A case study methodology allows the research to be placed in a larger theoretical context. Instead of simply evaluating the effectiveness of the Network on its own terms, a case study approach facilitates the creation of linkages between the limited scope of the evaluation and more general theories, in this case, those pertaining to the democratization of mapping and the empowerment of minority communities. This chapter wi l l introduce both program evaluation and case study methodologies and describe how they are used in the research. 3.1 Program Evaluation Pietro (1983, 7) defines program evaluation as the identification of strengths, weaknesses and relevance of a program, the assessment of the impacts of a program on the lives of community members, and the application of lessons learned to the activities of the program. Herman, Morris and Fitz-Gibbon (1987, 11) suggest that the results of an evaluation can guide the allocation of resources, help set priorities and facilitate the modification and refinement of program structures. Within the field of evaluation, however, there exists a wide variety of Methodology 42 methods for generating data and analyzing the results, ranging from the quantitative and 'objective' to the naturalistic and 'subjective.' In the earlier years of evaluation, there was heavy emphasis on technical methods. Discrete and measurable goals were identified and quantitative data gathering techniques (experimental designs, control groups) were employed (Herman, Morris and Fitz-Gibbon 1987). In the 1970s, however, a trend away from positivist methods and towards more qualitative evaluation developed as sensitivity to subjectivity in the social sciences grew. Awareness of unanticipated outcomes, the importance of perceptions and the desire to move towards inclusive, participatory models of evaluation encouraged this shift (Pietro 1983, 8). Exploration of various models of evaluation makes evident the diversity of thought and practice in the field of program evaluation. Rutman (1977) in several ways straddles the line between quantitative and qualitative approaches to evaluation. The method advocated strongly emphasizes the importance of "scientific procedures," "reliable and valid evidence," and the identification of causal linkages between activities and outcomes (Rutman 1977, 16). Whereas early evaluation models focus exclusively on the realization of identified and anticipated goals, however, Rutman places additional emphasis on implicit goals or unanticipated outcomes: [...] evaluation researchers often limit their attention to only those outcomes which fall under the stated goals. This places restrictions on the scope of the research because such an approach can miss latent goals (i.e., those which are not formally stated), unintended consequences, as well as other anticipated effects (Rutman 1977, 17). While this approach remains strongly dependent on more technical methods and linear relationships, and is strongly oriented towards the realization of pre-determined goals, its awareness of alternative impacts is an important addition to program evaluation theory. Methodology 43 Subsequent approaches demonstrate awareness of the implications of unanticipated outcomes while moving the methods employed in a more qualitative direction. The Program Evaluation Kit, an eight-volume publication first produced Herman, Morris and Fitz-Gibbons in 1978 embraces both qualitative and quantitative methods in evaluation. In certain circumstances, a technical approach may have utility; what is most important is that the evaluation remain flexible to adapt to its context (Herman, Morris and Fitz-Gibbons 1987, 11). It is paramount that the expectations of the evaluation are figured out in advance and that the limitations of the evaluation are communicated. Specifically, a negotiation takes place between the evaluator and the 'client' wherein the latter's needs for the evaluation are understood along with what they accept as credible information and as a reporting style (Herman, Morris and Fitz-Gibbons 1987, 13). Consequently, the methods to be used in the evaluation are determined. If appropriate, quantitative and/or qualitative techniques are used. Depending on what stage the evaluator is brought in, the evaluation may be either formative or summative. Both begin with the same basic exploration of the context: the evaluator w i l l research the program - to learn its history, scope, rationale and goals and objectives - through personal communication with the program's developers and through the study of documentation (request for proposals, plans, etc.) (Herman, Morris and Fitz-Gibbons 1987, 27). A formative evaluation is done to improve a program, to help steer it toward its goals, in the course of its development. A summative evaluation takes place upon the completion of a program to determine how effective it has been in reaching its goals and objectives. These two types of evaluation have similar characteristics, in that they w i l l seek out multiple sources of information, they wi l l communicate the findings in a means appropriate for the 'client', and they wi l l focus the data collection on indicators that can be feasibly measured or observed (Herman, Methodology 44 Morris and Fitz-Gibbons 1987, 32-36). Additionally, formative evaluations, where possible, will monitor the program on a periodic basis. The Program Evaluation Kit approach to evaluation places great emphasis on the relevance and usefulness of the study to those who will use it. A wide variety of analytical techniques are legitimate so long as they reflect the character of the program, can adequately interpret the realization of goals and objectives, and are understood by the 'clients' for whom the evaluation is prepared. A very important characteristic of this approach is the research done prior to the collection of evaluation data. The exploration of the context determines the methods used, the limits of, and the expectations held for the evaluation. Positioned more strongly in the qualitative camp is the approach presented by Pietro (1983). The emphasis here is "simple but persuasive methodologies" where controlled experimental designs are used only as a "last resort" (Pietro 1983, 12). As with the Program Evaluation Kit, this approach mandates a solid understanding of the evaluation context. When this is achieved, the evaluator can create an appropriate evaluation predicated on good information and relevance. The evaluator often works with constraints on time and resources therefore it is important that he/she produces an evaluation that selectively uncovers the most useful information (that conveys the true state of affairs) at reasonable expense (Pietro 1983,41). Pietro (1983, 67-80) identifies five models of evaluation ranging from very qualitative and 'objective' to the strongly participatory and qualitative. Goal based evaluation is predicated on the identification of discrete goals and objectives, their translation into measurable indicators and the subsequent collection of appropriate data. Appropriate for programs with very self-evident results, this model may ignore important issues and unanticipated outcomes. Decision-2 Pietro's (1983) work is based on research in the PVO (private and voluntary organizations) sector, where human and fiscal resources are often quite limited. Methodology 45 making evaluation suggests that decisions, not goals and objectives, are the key element in evaluation design. A s such, more attention is paid to a pre-project assessment and process concerns. A third model - Goal-free evaluation - focuses not on the realization of goals and objectives, but instead on all the outcomes of a program. Advocates of this approach feel that because programs often fall short of their intended goals, it is important to study what actually happens to those affected by the program. The Expert Judgment model moves further away from rigorous data collection and relies on the critical abilities of evaluator, the 'expert.' This approach mandates that the evaluator have expertise in the relevant subject, and consequently is able to provide insightful, sometimes subjective comments impossible otherwise. The final model of evaluation - the one favoured by Pietro (1983, 79) - is naturalistic evaluation. The design, in this case, is emergent, in that it responds to the needs of the stakeholders. The evaluation is holistic in that it seeks to understand a program's operations through the exploration of a pluralism in viewpoints and values. Rather that restricting the scope of data through experimental designs, this approach attempts to generate its holistic understanding though direct observation (often participant observation), unstructured key informant interviews and the review of historical information. Appropriate presentation of the evaluation findings is important. Novel presentation methods - using photographs, maps, graphs, displays - that w i l l communicate results clearly and understandably to stakeholders take precedence over traditional evaluation reports. The naturalistic model, as its name suggests, offers a more 'natural' portrayal of program, unconstrained by the predetermined scope and selectivity of a rigorous experimental design. It approaches the problem of evaluating a program with a blank slate and is thus more receptive to nuance, complexity and unanticipated outcomes. Methodology 46 3.2 Program Evaluation Methods Used in this Research In many ways, this research into the Aboriginal Mapping Network adopts a naturalistic approach to evaluation. First, it delves into the Network's context and history, as well as into the issue of First Nations mapping, prior to any evaluation data collection within the mapping community. The institutional context and the Network's evolution are explored through the consulting of as many documents (grant proposals, specifically) as possible. Additional history and background are derived from interviews with two members of Ecotrust Canada who are instrumental to the development of the Network (for a list of questions for the Network developers, see Appendix I). These interviews focus on the first two years of the Network's history, the justification for its existence, its operational characteristics and its anticipated outcomes. The questions themselves are derived from the background research done in advance of the interviews. An understanding of the institutional context and the reasons for the Network's existence helped scope the questions while a formal four-month internship with Ecotrust Canada further contributed to an understanding of the program prior to any interviewing. A comprehensive literature review focusing on First Nations' use of geographic information systems provides additional grounding for the evaluation, contributing a solid understanding in the documented reality of Aboriginal mapping practice in B.C. and elsewhere. This preparation sets the stage for commencing the component of the evaluation involving communication with the Network users, the First Nations mappers. Methods here again are characteristic of a naturalistic-type evaluation. Eleven key informant interviews are conducted. They are semi-structured in the sense that they are based on pre-established questions answered on an open-ended basis. The questions themselves are derived from the background research into First Nations mapping and the Aboriginal Mapping Network, and from the interviews with Methodology 47 the Network developers (for a list of interview questions, see Appendix II). They address questions of current mapping practice, problems encountered with running a First Nations GIS department, and the perceived utility, appropriateness, strengths and weaknesses of the Network. The first component of the interviews ("the state of your GIS department") and the second ("needs and problems") address experiences with mapping in a First Nations context. Questions are asked which serve to describe the usage of GIS, its specific applications and the skills of its users. Further, subjects are asked about the difficulties they face as First Nations mappers in B . C . The literature suggests that aboriginal mappers using GIS technology wi l l face problems in terms of data acquisition, funding, training and so forth. The interview seeks to confirm and elaborate on these hypotheses. The third component of the interview process ("use of the Aboriginal Mapping Network") focuses specifically on the Network itself. Explored are questions of exposure, useful components of the website, omissions and future management. Broader questions that relate to the case study are also addressed here. Mappers are asked explicitly whether or not the Network might help to build an aboriginal mapping community and if the Network can facilitate the democratization of mapping by building capacity in GIS for First Nations. The open-ended character of the interviews places this evaluation in the category of more qualitative approaches. The unconstrained nature of the informants' responses allows for the expression of answers that may have been lost in a survey-oriented or experimental design-type evaluation. The interview design itself is emergent, in that the approach to interviewing the mappers is developed within the evaluation after the context had been established (following the interviews with program developers and other background research). If key issues become apparent in the course of interviewing, they are raised in subsequent interviews. A lack of the Methodology 4b" appearance of unanticipated issues during the course of interviewing, however, corroborates the questions' validity and stands as testimony to the necessity and utility of preparatory research done in the early part of the evaluation. The interview subjects themselves were chosen by one or more criteria. Ecotrust Canada has a mailing list of First Nations contacts who received notification of the existence of the Aboriginal Mapping Network. Selected from this list were approximately thirty individuals or mapping offices who had either been in communication with Ecotrust Canada about the Network or who live in the Lower Mainland and thus would be easy to contact. Each was mailed an introductory letter along with sample interview questions, and contacted with a telephone call . Of the thirty, eleven were interviewed, the remainder either too busy, unreachable or unwilling (for a list of interview subjects, see Appendix IH). The interviews lasted between twenty minutes and one-and-a-half hours. Five were done in person while six were done over the telephone and two via email correspondence. The extensive geographical distribution of the interview subjects prohibited face-to-face contact in the majority of cases. In either situation, the interview process followed the same procedure. The subjects were informed of the ethical requirements of the research and gave their consent either verbally or by signing a consent form i f possible 3. They were then given a description of the thesis subject and objectives, and the interviewing began. With questions in hand, the interviews generally followed the outline provided. Digression sometimes occurred and was encouraged with the intention of uncovering new or overlooked ideas. With the exception of the email responses, all of the interviews were recorded on audio cassette and subsequently transcribed verbatim. 3 The entire research process conforms to the University of British Columbia's ethical review process as defined by the Behavioural Research Ethics Board. To approve a project involving human subjects, the applicant must describe to the board the subject of the research, the nature of any interviews, and the procedure for analyzing the data. The Methodology 49 Enthusiasm to participate in the process was expressed by many of the subjects. This fact reflects their dedication and interest in their mapping work and their willingness to participate in the development of the Network, and by extension, mapping skills among First Nations. Those who agreed to participate were generally interviewed in the middle of the day from their workplace, which suggests the relevance of this research to them. Two mappers, in fact, asked to be interviewed as soon as they received their introductory letter, rather than waiting for the follow-up phone call, which was standard procedure. Similar enthusiasm was manifest throughout the interviews. This is evident in the fact that the majority of interviews are over thirty minutes in length and one approached one-and-a-half hours. Such active participation is an encouraging affirmation of the value this research has to its community. The interview findings are analyzed in relation to the perceptions, expectations, goals and objectives of the Network's developers. Being a formative evaluation, this research is intended to suggest improvements to the Network by presenting the response from the mapping community as a means to move the Network closer to its goals and objectives. A s such, the input from the mappers is presented as a critique of the program with suggestions as to how it can better "network the aboriginal mapping community." The methodology does not allow for an uncontestable, rigorous judgement of the Aboriginal Mapping Network's worth; rather the evaluation is dependent somewhat on personal conclusions, moving the evaluation somewhat towards the expert judgement model. A n y judgements, however, w i l l be informed by first-hand communication with the stakeholders. This evaluation, then, borrows heavily from the naturalistic model proposed by Pietro (1983). It is rooted in a solid understanding of the context the Aboriginal Mapping Network is researcher is asked to submit a copy of all interview questions. All interviewing must conform to certain criteria including the expression of consent by subjects. Ethical approval was conferred by the Board in August of 1998. Methodology 5 0 operating within, including the institutional environment, the current state o f Abor ig ina l mapping practice and the Network 's goals and objectives. T h e methodology is exclusively qualitative, predicated on open-ended personal interviews, and emergent, in that it develops as the evaluation progresses and remains flexible. Further, conclusions drawn regarding the evaluation are not incontestable, r igid 'facts' or judgements, as are found in more quantitative goal-based approaches. Rather, they are expressed as suggestions or i l luminations o f key issues which are intended to assist in organizational growth and improvement of service to the stakeholders (and thus the realization of organizational goals and objectives). 3.3 Case Study Methods T h e case study provides a means for mov ing from the specific to the general in social science research. A case study " attempts to provide a theoretical as wel l as a descriptive account o f its case material. [...] It is an inductive method which proceeds f rom observation and goes on to show how general abstract explanatory principles manifest themselves in one example of observed reality" (Johnston 1991,45). Th i s study moves f rom the particular - the program evaluation of the Abor ig ina l Mapp ing Network - to a more universal, theoretical level through the use of a case study methodology. A case study approach facilitates the convergence of theory and everyday life, l inking phenomenon and context ( Y i n 1994, 14). Th i s study places the evaluation of the Abor ig ina l M a p p i n g Network into a larger theoretical framework, namely that of the democratization of mapping and the implicit social and political power that maps maintain. Identification of a theoretical foundation is an explicit component of case study analysis; this research is predicated on an established body of theory based on ideas of information control and empowerment. T h e case study itself - an exploration Methodology 51 of the Aboriginal Mapping Network is unique - but its linkage to theory renders it less abstract and isolated, and more global. Y i n (1994, 20-26) identifies four components in case study design to which this present research adheres. First, there is the issue of study questions; case studies lend themselves to 'how' and 'why' questions. Questions asking 'who' , 'what', and 'where' - as in "who uses this particular service?" or "where are the stakeholders from?" - are more suited to archival studies or surveys. 'How ' or 'why' questions, which focus on operational links rather than incidence or frequencies, are more suited to case study analysis. The linkage between theory and experience is made in the course of defining a study question. In the present example, the study questions can be expressed: "How does the Aboriginal Mapping Network democratize the mapping experience for First Nations mappers in B.C. ?" and subsequently, "Why is the democratization of mapping experience - and more specifically, the development of GIS capacities - important and how will it impact the planning activities of First Nations?" The generation of study questions leads to the development of a study proposition. In essence, this is a hypothesis, a guiding argument around which to structure the study. In the current study, this is expressed: "The Aboriginal Mapping Network has the potential to build capacity in GIS mapping for First Nations. The ability to use this technology will facilitate the bringing of local knowledge into planning and governance processes and lead to the empowerment of First Nations of their own terms." This proposition guides the present research; it serves to link the local (the program evaluation) with the theoretical (mapping theory and community empowerment). The questions raised in the course of the interviews help resolve the study questions and elaborate on the study proposition (see Appendix I and Appendix II). Initial background for the Methodology 52 First Nations mapping experience is revealed in the early components of the interviews. Mappers are queried initially about their mapping departments (size, type of work) and then about specific problems they face as First Nations mappers in B . C . (such as funding shortfalls and data acquisition). These questions supply the background for the evaluation and the case study. The third component of the interviews focuses on the mappers' experience with the Aboriginal Mapping Network - their perceptions of strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes, and visions of future management. Here, mappers are asked about the worth of the Network to them. Specifically, they are asked i f they concur with the Network developers' perception that individuals in the aboriginal mapping community are indeed developing mapping skills independently of each other, and what the consequences of this are. How they could benefit from a networked community is discussed along with their feelings on whether or not the Aboriginal Mapping Network can help democratize mapping. The practical experiences and perceptions of mappers and related to theories of information and power in maps. The third component is straightforward: the case study unit of analysis. For the purpose of this thesis, the unit of analysis is the Aboriginal Mapping Network, defined not only as the website itself, but all means used to "network the aboriginal mapping community." This incorporates all the proposed and existing activities of the Network and the Network management. The final component - linking the data to propositions and criteria for interpreting the findings - addresses the question of methods and data interpretation. Y i n (1994, 91-98) suggests that there are three principles of data collection which help deal with the reliability of a case study; these have been incorporated into this body of research. First, the study must use multiple sources of evidence. Triangulation, Y i n suggests, allows for "converging lines of Methodology 53 inquiry," strengthening any arguments. Second, there is the creation of a case study database which comprises 1) the data or evidentiary base and 2) the report of the investigator. The former, in this case, are the transcribed interviews, institutional reports, bibliography and secondary research which inform this case study. The latter - the report - is this thesis itself. Finally, the researcher must maintain a chain of evidence. This chain of evidence is simply an explicit linkage (citation) between the case study conclusions and the evidence collected (the primary research). Clear linkages wi l l by definition strengthen the validity of the case study. A case study approach serves, in this thesis, to link the evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network to broader theoretical considerations pertaining to mapping theory. The methods proposed by Y i n (1994) help focus the analysis by mandating an articulation of statements that link the theory and the unique case. Moreover, validity and reliability are strengthened by the conscious development and use of diverse data sources and explicit linkages between data and argument. A case study methodology facilitates the generating of broad theoretical arguments and conclusions based on the immediate experiences of First Nations mappers. 5<f Chapter 4: The Aboriginal Mapping Network A t present, the Aboriginal Mapping Network has a history spanning more than two years. The idea that a network could prove useful for First Nations mappers surfaced in late 1996 as a reflection on the current state of the Aboriginal mapping experience in the province. Both First Nations GIS users and members of Ecotrust Canada - an organization that is actively involved in the development of GIS capabilities at the grassroots level - were cognizant of the lack of cohesiveness in the First Nations mapping community; a phenomenon they felt was leading to unnecessary duplications of practice, a failure to share experience and a loss of synergy (Carruthers, Olive interviews 1998). The idea and considerations of the Network's form were shared at GIS-focused conferences in 1997 and 1998 (Carruthers interview 1998). The development of the Aboriginal Mapping Network fell to Ecotrust Canada due to the demands on resources (notably time) of First Nations mappers who are actively engaged in mapping projects. This is not to suggest that they did not provide input into the Network's development, but rather that Ecotrust Canada had the time and capacity to begin the process. B y the late Spring of 1998, a prototype network existed in the form of a website on the world wide web. This chapter discusses the institutional context and philosophical orientation of Ecotrust Canada, the history of the Network to date, the justification its developers give for its existence, its form and its expressed goals. The Aboriginal Mapping Network 55 4.1 Institutional Context Ecotrust is a Portland, Oregon, based non-governmental organization whose mission is to "conserve and restore ecosystems by helping local communities develop their capacity to fulfill human needs and maintain ecological integrity" (Ecotrust 1998). They are a conservation-oriented organization with the coastal rainforests stretching from northern California to southeast Alaska serving as their geographical focus. The principles that guide their philosophy are to (Ecotrust 1998): • Improve environment, economics, and equity • Target natural communities • Support civic entrepreneurs • Nourish networks • Innovate • Lead by example. Ecotrust Canada is a partner organization of Ecotrust with offices in Vancouver, Victoria and Prince Rupert. Expressing a similar ecological mandate to Ecotrust, they are active in three significant areas: conservation-based development, information systems and policy reform (Ecotrust Canada 1998a). Ecotrust Canada has engaged in conservation-based development activities on the North Coast, Vancouver Island and in Haida Gwai i . Their approach recognizes the fundamental linkage between the ecosystem and the human economy, and seeks to integrate the two sustainably. The organization offers technological, financial, managerial, marketing and networking assistance to facilitate the realization of this vision. Through its information systems focus, Ecotrust Canada encourages the integration of local knowledge and a science-based approach to environmental management. Aware of the importance of disseminating affordable and comprehensive information and the role such information plays in ecological preservation, they seek to "transform data into knowledge" through the production of maps, C D - R O M s and publications. Finally, through their policy reform orientation, Ecotrust Canada seeks to The Aboriginal Mapping Network 56 transform knowledge into action through progressive policy "to ensure that local experience and needs guide government decision-making at all levels." Notable expressions of their philosophy are the organization's critiques of the provincial Protected Areas Strategy and of current forest tenure practices (the latter prepared in conjunction with the David Suzuki Foundation) (Ecotrust Canada 1998a). Mapping is a fundamental component of their information systems focus. Ecotrust Canada has been active in mapping the recommendations of the scientific panel in Clayoquot Sound, providing training for the Ahousaht, Heiltsuk, Tla-o-qui-aht, Haisla and Gitxsan First Nations, creating a map of protected areas and First Nations land claims in B C (included in the publication More than the Sum of Our Parks), and distributing digital geographic data. Such activities reflect Ecotrust Canada's mandate of working cooperatively with local communities to achieve conservation goals. Failure to adopt such a cooperative working relationship has resulted in the expulsion of environmental groups from First Nations lands in the past and has compromised the integrity of the conservation movement. Ecotrust Canada's community-based conservationist mandate is further clarified in their Mapping Office's four guiding principles (Ecotrust Canada 1998b). First, there exists an awareness of the importance of open access to public information. To this end, Ecotrust Canada has consolidated and released regional geographic datasets to facilitate mapping activities by local organizations. Second, a respect for local and traditional knowledge is explicit. Ecotrust Canada works directly with local communities and organizations, and views local worldviews, priorities and beliefs as integral to a representative and just conceptualization of reality. Third, they seek to empower local communities through information and technology. A n impressive history of training organizations in the use of technology (in both a technical and a The Aboriginal Mapping Network 57 methodological sense) stands as testimony to the commitment by Ecotrust Canada towards realizing this end 4 . A n d fourth, to "listen, learn and experiment". These four principles inform Ecotrust Canada's mapping-related activities; the Aboriginal Mapping Network is a concrete articulation of these principles. 4.2 The History of the Aboriginal Mapping Network The Aboriginal Mapping Network has a two year history wherein the Network was conceived of, conceptualized and realized in an early form. The idea came independently to two groups of people: David Carruthers of Ecotrust Canada, and Darlene Vegh and Russell Collier of the Gitxsan Strategic Watershed Analysis Team 5 (Carruthers, Coll ier interviews 1998). Although they had different conceptions of the Network's form, both groups saw the inherent need for such an entity. 4.2.1 Justification for the Network's Existence There exists a need for a network for two fundamental reasons which Carruthers, Collier and Vegh are aware of due to their experience with First Nations mapping. First, mapping is becoming a requisite component of First Nations political action in the late 1990s. The formal treaty process mandates that nations pursuing treaty claims engage in mapping of their traditional territories. In stage one - the Statement of Intent to Negotiate - of the six-stage treaty process, "the statement must describe the geographic area of the First Nation's distinct traditional 4 Ecotrust Canada's Mapping Office has provided in 1997 and early 1998: one week of training in Ahousaht with the Ahousaht First Nations; a needs assessment in Bamfield with the School of Field Studies; a three day mapping workshop in Tofino with five First Nations; five weeks of training in Bella Bella with the Heiltsuk GIS Department; a two day workshop on Galiano Island with local Gulf Island conservancies; four weeks of training in Hazelton with the Gitxsan Strategic Watershed Analysis Team; and five weeks of training in Kitimat with the Haisla GIS department. The Aboriginal Mapping Network 58 territory in B C and identify any overlaps with other First Nations" (BC Treaty Commission 1997, 8). The Negotiation of an Agreement in Principle, the fourth stage in the process, makes further mapping demands on the claimant First Nation, soliciting an identification of "existing and future interests in land, sea and resources." With over fifty First Nations engaged in the treaty process and legally required to map their traditional territories, a need for the development of mapping skills, the acquisition of data, and the sharing of methodologies within the First Nations mapping community is self-evident. As movement towards self-governance and local control of natural resources occurs, the spatial-planning demands on First Nations are steadily increasing. The comprehensive and accurate presentation of geographical data from herein wi l l be a fundamental component of Aboriginal governance; the existence of a networked First Nations mapping community wi l l facilitate the development of imperative mapping skills. The second justification for the development of a mapping network is the fact that First Nations mappers in B C are, for the most part, working independently of each other. They are seeking training, developing methodologies and generating or manipulating data as independent entities rather than as a community (Carruthers, Olive interviews 1998). "Working in isolation results in duplication of efforts, and the inability to learn from other peoples' work" (Ecotrust Canada 1997). Many First Nations in B C are engaging in mapping activities as a function of the demands of land claims and resource management and yet, despite the obvious practical similarities between the mapping work being done, very little communication and knowledge-sharing is taking place between individual nations. Since the technologies being used in mapping are complex and expensive (particularly GIS), this lack of communication is resulting in a significant wasting of human and financial resources. The Aboriginal Mapping Network's 5 Based in Hazelton S W A T was initially part of the Gitxsan treaty office but has since become independent. With a staff of four, it is a technical mapping office involved in GIS mapping, fieldwork, inventories and habitat modeling. The Aboriginal Mapping Network 59 fundamental aim - its by-line or motto - is "Networking the Aboriginal Mapping Community." It seeks to overcome the isolation that exists between First Nations mapping offices and create an integrated and cohesive community of mappers in B . C . 4.2.2 The Development of the Network, 1996 -1998. The Aboriginal Mapping Network is a unique creation; no entity is known to exist that adopts a similar approach to knowledge-sharing among Aboriginal mappers. Such a need to create a network, however, was clear (as suggested above). In late 1996, two separate organizations - Ecotrust Canada and the Gitxsan S W A T - independently saw the need for a network in British Columbia. Although they differed on the specifics of the form of this First Nations mapping network, they were similarly aware of its necessity. It was not a random coincidence that David Carruthers of Ecotrust Canada and Darlene Vegh and Russell Collier of S W A T conceived of the need for a network; it was a function of their awareness of the mapping imperative for B C ' s First Nations. Carruthers describes the context as both an opportunity and a crisis (Carruthers interview 1998). It was an opportunity in that many First Nations were at a similar stage in the development of their mapping capabilities. A network could be established that would help nations meet the demands of treaty negotiations, providing the mapping support that the provincial and federal governments were not. In this sense, the timing was right for the establishment of a mapping network. It is also suggested that a crisis was immanent. A s individual groups developed their mapping capabilities in isolation, it is clear that inefficiencies and redundancies would be manifest due to a lack of coordination and geographic isolation. The further that single groups got down their own development paths, the more difficult it would be to address such problems. There was an apparent environment for the development of the Aboriginal Mapping Network. The Aboriginal Mapping Network 60 Although there was no model that the Network could directly reference, the idea was based in part on the British Columbia Conservation Mapping Consortium (Carruthers interview 1998). Founded in 1996, the Victoria-based consortium housed the mapping activities of Ecotrust Canada, B . C . W i l d , the Sierra Club of B . C . and Interrain Pacific. It was believed that all groups could benefit from shared physical resources and the synergistic effect of working in a common environment. The diversity of mandates between each organization resulted in the Consortium disbanding in June of 1998. A n awareness of the potential that such an integration of mapping activities had, however, provided the original conceivers of the Aboriginal Mapping Network with a point of reference. At the GIS 97 conference in Vancouver, David Carruthers, with the support of Russell Collier from S W A T , voiced the idea for a network during a roundtable discussion on First Nations mapping issues. The notion was received with enthusiasm. Later in that year, Ecotrust Canada hosted a conference call on the subject, with representatives from the Ahousaht, Kwakiut l , and Haisla First Nations participating along with members of Ecotrust Canada (Carruthers interview 1998). It was unanimously agreed that the Network was much needed. It was also concluded that the Network's development should be managed by a neutral organization ("due to politics between the First Nations") with Ecotrust Canada being the most appropriate body to do so due to its history of appropriate and active experience. David Carruthers raised the subject of the Network again at GIS 98 in Toronto during a talk on GIS use by First Nations. Once again it was met with overwhelming support and interest from individuals from across Canada. It was at this time that a promise was made that the Network would materialize in some form by June 1 s t, 1998. The Aboriginal Mapping Network 61 Concurrently, Ecotrust Canada was dealing with the complexities of funding the Network. Prior to the conference in Toronto, Carruthers had, with the help of Roman Frank of the Ahousaht First Nation, drafted and submitted a proposal to the Vancouver Foundation (Ecotrust Canada 1997). The proposal asked for $37,000, which was to go in whole towards a coordinator's salary. The expressed budget for the entire Aboriginal Mapping Network project was estimated at $97, 900 (including this salary), with allocations for two computers, web page design and maintenance, conference workshops and administrative costs. The idea was that the Network, i f it received adequate funding, would become self-sustaining within three to five years and operate on a cost-recovery basis, therefore allowing Ecotrust Canada to back out of its management role and leave control entirely in the hands of the First Nations mapping community. The Vancouver Foundation, however, did not provide any funding for the Network. It was suggested that they were possibly intimidated by the gross cost of the project and were hesitant to "be the first ones off the block" when it came to funding (Carruthers interview 1998). Carruthers had made the commitment to have some form of the Network in existence by June 1 s t, so it was decided in early M a y that the website would be created in-house, within the Ecotrust Canada office. Participating in the creation of the site were Carruthers, Leah M c M i l l i n (a paid co-op student from the University of Victoria) and myself, a graduate student from the U B C School of Community and Regional Planning. This process essentially involved compiling various components - such as articles, case studies, references and so on - into a logical framework designed by Carruthers. The articles themselves were either written in advance or created within the office. They were then translated into hypertext markup language ( H T M L ) , a standardized computer language used for internet websites and made into aesthetically coherent webpages by M c M i l l i n using commercial H T M L design software. During the second half of The Aboriginal Mapping Network 62 May, the website was placed on-line on a server where it could be tested for errors and assessed for content by people outside of Ecotrust Canada. At the same time, a mailout announcing the Network's presence was made to First Nations mapping departments, government organizations, N G O ' s , consultants, GIS companies and others. On the first of June the Network was formally launched with its own domain name and internet address (www.nativemaps.org). 4.3 The Network's F o r m It was not the original intention of those who conceived of the Network that it would be web-based (Carruthers, Olive interviews 1998). The question of access to the internet, it was felt, could prove a barrier to the more technologically isolated communities. Initially, it was thought that the Network would manifest itself as a monthly newsletter (later reduced to bimonthly), but the management burden in a context of limited resources was considered too great. Ideally, the Network's developers saw a central coordinator connecting with members of the mapping community on a regular basis to compile information, share knowledge and open pathways to communication: "I would like to see a circuit rider to drop by offices and share ideas. So someone could drop in the Heiltsuk office and say, hey, the band over in Prince George is doing something interesting. They've already solved that problem, you should talk to them" (Carruthers interview 1998). Once again, however, funding difficulties w i l l have to be resolved i f the Network is to hire a coordinator. In the context of funding limitations - after the failure to secure any outside assistance -it was decided that the Network would be placed on-line. Surprisingly, this was an affordable alternative as Ecotrust Canada has the capabilities, both in terms of human and technical resources, to create a website at limited cost. With the availability of user-friendly H T M L The Aboriginal Mapping Network 63 design software coupled with the technical experience of Carruthers, M c M i l l i n and myself, we were able to cobble together a prototype Aboriginal Mapping Network website that reflected the ideas of Ecotrust Canada and the input of the First Nations mappers. The website has the form indicated in figure 4.1. Figure 4.1: Layout of the Aboriginal Mapping Network Website Home (www.nalivemaps.org) Stories, News and Reviews Methods Data Sources Support Mapping 1 ools (hat Hoard and Feedback Contacts and Links Home: This page serves as the launching point to other sections of the site. It contains the Aboriginal Mapping Network title banner, a reference to Ecotrust Canada's management of the Network, and the Network's mission statement: The Aboriginal Mapping Network web site is a collection of resource pages to help share information throughout the aboriginal mapping community. It has a British Columbia focus, but is not limited to this geographic region. It is intended to be used by any group who is active in aboriginal mapping, from the introductory level, to the advanced. It is a source for both basic information on cartography, to technical information on GIS mapping. A n d more importantly, it is a place to share ideas with others regarding mapping from an aboriginal perspective. This is a dynamic site, so drop by frequently. • Stories, News and Reviews: this section provides a forum where First Nations mappers can submit stories to be put on-line. It also contains relevant news items, conference announcements, book and article reviews and links to sites with job postings. The Aboriginal Mapping Network 64 Figure 4.2 The Abor ig ina l M a p p i n g Network Homepage \$& Aboriginal Mapping Network - Netscape File Edit View Go Communicate* Help 1 Bookmarks Location:|http7 Aww.nativemaps.org/ J (£p~ What's Related A b o r i g i n a l M a p p i n g N e t w o r k Networking the Aboriginal Mapping Community Stories. News &. Reviews I Data Sources | Methods | Mapping Tools | SUBDaal I Contacts & links | Qhat Board & feedback The Aboriginal Mapping Network Web site is a collection of resource pages to help share information throughout the aboriginal mapping community. It has a The Tsleil-Waututh Nation J [Document: Done • Data Sources: this page provides links to sites where mappers can get free digital data and software, presents information on where they can purchase data, and provides a link to the Aboriginal Mapping Network F T P 6 site. • Methods: Here, one can learn about the practice of mapping. It contains a "GIS Primer" written by Innovative GIS Solutions, an introduction to bioregional mapping, on the ground examples of map-making methods, and information on Traditional Use Studies and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) . • M a p p i n g Tools: This section focuses on the technical elements of GIS. Specifically, it provides a brief introduction and internet links to mainstream producers of GIS software, hardware and global positioning systems (GPS). • Support: This page addresses some of the key issues facing the daily operation of First Nations mapping departments, namely funding, training, and technical support (it provides reviews of the support offered by GIS companies). Additionally it provides operational tips for operating and maintaining GIS software. 6 FTP stands for file transfer protocol, a means of transferring digital data over telephone lines. FTP enables mappers to send GIS files almost instantaneously over any distance. Such a service would prove invaluable as a means to build communications networks in the First Nations mapping community. The Aboriginal Mapping Network 65 • Contacts and L i n k s : Links to significant amounts of information are found on this page. First, there is a directory of contacts within the Aboriginal Mapping Network and in government. Second, there is a comprehensive annotated links page which contains direct connections to sites organized in the categories: First Nations Organizations, Bands, Councils, Governments; First Nations Using GIS; Resources Relating to First Nations Issues; GIS Technology; Education; Data Sources; and Government Organizations. Further, it provides users with the opportunity to submit links they discover and feel are relevant. • Chat B o a r d and Feedback: An electronic chat board, it is felt, is one of the most important components of the website. The board provides a place where users can post questions they have about technical, methodological, legal, and other issues, and have other users of the site respond. The chat board enables people to communicate directly without going through an intermediary or site manager. The board itself can also be divided up into forums relating to particular issues or subjects. Chat Boards are not uncommon on the internet, and the inspiration for one within the Aboriginal Mapping Network website came from a board on the ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) website. ESRI is the maker of ARC/INFO and Arc View GIS software and their chat board is an active centre of information sharing and technical support for and by users. It is felt that such a forum will prove important in opening communication links within the Aboriginal mapping community. As mentioned earlier, the developers did not intend initially for the Network to be a website. The internet has its benefits and constraints as the forum for the Network. As mentioned, it was relatively easy and inexpensive for the developers to get some manifestation of the Network out in the world. Moreover, it is easy to update and augment the website as new information comes forth. The world wide web also serves the community well, in that it is easy to access, provided the mappers have some form of internet connection. The B.C. First Nations mapping community is widely dispersed over a very large territory. GIS offices are often located in small, isolated communities such as Bella Bella, Ahousaht, and New Aiyansh, therefore rendering face-to-face communication between mappers very difficult. The Network's existence on the web provides an almost universally accessible 'space' where First Nations mappers can meet and share experiences and knowledge notwithstanding the barrier of distance. Moreover, the anonymity of access to the website is inherently non-intimidating. Mappers who are hesitant to openly express their concerns or shortcomings with GIS have complete control over their The Aboriginal Mapping Network 66 participation in the knowledge sharing. " [A web-based presence is] good because people can access the internet on their own terms, in privacy. So that issues of insecurity or a lack of confidence don't come through. So people can explore thoroughly without any constraints" (Olive interview 1998). A n additional consideration is the role the internet plays in contemporary GIS mapping. The internet is becoming a fundamental component of mapping practice as technical support is often web-based and so much data is available on-line. For example, E S R I and P C I - both producers of GIS software - both have extensive on-line support services. The internet also addresses the problem of transferring data. Using F T P , GIS offices can shunt large volumes of data back and forth and download data from central repositories remotely and rapidly. Mappers are going to have to be, by definition, functional users of the internet. While access is a legitimate concern - "there are still some limitations [...] with slow connections, bad connections, or no connections at a l l " - it is not unreasonable to suggest that the world wide web is a suitable and appropriate 'place' for the Aboriginal Mapping Network (Carruthers, Olive interviews 1998). The subject of the internet wi l l be discussed further in Chapter 5 in the analysis of feedback from the First Nations mappers. In addition to the website, the Network developers would also like to see a conference geared exclusively toward Aboriginal mapping in B . C . Presently there is an associated one-day Aboriginal GIS component accompanying the annual GIS Wor ld conference in Canada, but it is felt that the mapping community would be better served by one oriented to this province. The issues faced by First Nations GIS departments in B . C . are unique, particularly with regard to the land claims process and natural resource tenure systems. A regional conference could focus The Aboriginal Mapping Network 67 more easily on these issues. Further, a provincial conference would be more accessible in terms of time and money over a national conference that could be in Toronto or Winnipeg. 4.4 Goals and Objectives The most fundamental, explicit goal of the Aboriginal Mapping Network is expressed in their motto or byline: "Networking the Aboriginal Mapping Community." This end has alternatively been expressed: "The goal of the project is to create a common First Nations support network for mapping throughout the public information sector" (Ecotrust Canada 1997). Although outwardly quite elementary, this statement is a clear reflection of the ideas that have guided the actions of the Network to date. It is suggestive of the reality of First Nations mapping in British Columbia wherein there is a perceived lack of coordination and communication among Aboriginal GIS departments. The principal goal, then, of the Aboriginal Mapping Network is to address this shortcoming through the creation of linkages between mappers. A s suggested earlier, the demands of the treaty process and land stewardship are forcing First Nations government structures to actively engage in map making to inform their planning activities. The A M N seeks to facilitate the development of mapping skills by actively creating a network of GIS departments who wi l l share experiences, knowledge, and methodologies through the website and at the proposed conference. The objectives of the Aboriginal Mapping Network are clearly expressed in the Vancouver Foundation Grant Proposal (Ecotrust Canada 1997). They are divided into short term and long term categories. The short term objectives of the Network are to : • encourage and facilitate a dialogue between groups who share common experiences; • improve access to data, training, technology and funding; • encourage data standardization; The Aboriginal Mapping Network 6 8 • and to reduce duplication. The long-term goals of the Mapping Network are to: • improve First Nation involvement in decision making processes; • support the planning of local resources by First Nations through access to related information and technology; • and to support First Nations in managing information for self-governance These objectives are clear articulations of the need to build capacity for First Nations mappers -in terms of building GIS capabilities - and consequently to develop the governance capabilities of First Nations in B . C . Mapping is a fundamental component of governance planning activities; they are key embodiments of information and articulations of knowledge that inform the planning process. Maps made by First Nations GIS departments not only incorporate elements, phenomena and ideas absent from mainstream maps, they serve as key inputs in the decision-making process for the very reason that they reflect a specific conception of the landscape. The Aboriginal Mapping Network's objectives, i f they are realized, can lead directly to capacity building in GIS use in First Nations communities. The goal of the Network - to unify First Nations mappers - parallels the expressed objectives by again improving the ability to map effectively and efficiently. The development of mapping capabilities, it can be argued, are the means to an end rather than an end in themselves. The end, in this case, would be the empowerment of First Nations as a legitimate order of government. Why would Ecotrust Canada, the primary actor behind the development of the Aboriginal Mapping Network, be interested in supporting indigenous claims to the land? The recent (1997) Delgamuukw decision by the Supreme Court of Canada confirms Aboriginal title to the land and the recognition of oral histories as legitimate evidence in treaty negotiations. Given 110% of the province's land falls under land claims, i f only one-quarter of these are settled, First Nations wi l l be second only to the Crown as landholders; 'There is no The Aboriginal Mapping Network 69 doubt that First Nations wi l l be the next major land stewards in B . C . " (Ecotrust Canada 1998, 2). Conservationist organizations see a unique opportunity for the land base and its resources to be managed sustainably and responsibly, as opposed to the present context of unaccountable corporate tenure relationships and exploitation without ownership that is pervasive in the province. First Nations governance of traditional territories, it is felt, w i l l embody a more ecologically sustainable approach to land management than currently exists. In reflecting on the environmental implications of the Nisga'a treaty, David Boyd, the Executive Director of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund (an organization with a mandate not dissimilar to Ecostrust's 7) suggests: Basic federal and provincial environmental laws wi l l continue to apply to the Nisga'a and Nisga'a lands. [...] The Nisga'a are given new powers in these areas, but the Nisga'a can only strengthen, not weaken, environmental standards. In other words, existing environmental laws wi l l become minimum standards that the Nisga'a may choose to improve upon. This is a no lose proposition for environmental protection on Nisga'a lands (Boyd 1998). Accountability and a minimum standard of environmental protection upon which to improve, environmental organizations suggest, render the context of First Nations stewardship of land a preferred situation than current management practices. The Aboriginal Mapping Network wi l l serve to improve the governance capabilities of First Nations through supplementing the planning process with knowledge embodied in map form, thus moving land and resource management in a more sensitive and sustainable direction. The Aboriginal Mapping Network has impressive intentions oriented towards the end of First Nations empowerment. The degree to which it has been able to work towards the creation 7 "On behalf of concerned citizens and groups across Canada, Sierra Legal prosecutes environmental offenders in a court of law to hold environmental law breakers accountable for their crimes against our environment. We provide free legal advice and free legal representation to protect and preserve our precious wildlife and their habitat." The SLDF is active with First Nations communities, notably through EAGLE, (Environmental-Aboriginal Guardianship The Aboriginal Mapping Network of communications linkages between mappers is discussed in the following chapter, and suggestions for its improvement are forwarded. Through Law and Education), "an initiative providing free legal services to First Nations in B.C. to protect their traditional territories and the environment." (Sierra Legal Defence Fund Website 1998) 7 / Chapter 5: Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network Very little research has been done on the current state of First Nations mapping in British Columbia. This chapter begins with a summary of the activities of the mappers interviewed in the course of the present research. The character and work of the various GIS departments wi l l be discussed, leading into a discussion of the problems faced in map-making in an aboriginal context. The reality and prevalence of these problems wi l l serve as corroboration of the Network's justification for existence. The remainder of the chapter is dedicated to an analysis of the feedback offered by mappers regarding the present form of the Network and thus constitutes a formative evaluation. Suggestions for how the Network can be improved to better serve the aboriginal mapping community are offered as well as conclusions regarding its future operation and management. 5.1 Characteristics of First Nations Mapping in British Columbia Although this research did not undertake a comprehensive survey of First Nations mappers in the province, it does offer an insight into the present state of GIS use in an aboriginal context. Aside from the rare case study, very little documentation of what is actually being done exists. The aim here is provide a comparative description of mapping conditions to illustrate the environment in which the Aboriginal Mapping Network evolved. Ten First Nations mappers from seven nations were interviewed. Geographically, they are well dispersed through the province, with representation from southwestern B . C . , Vancouver Island, central B . C . and the North Coast. They are all active users of GIS although the length of time of operation, the level of experience and the types of mapping differ. Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 72 The First Nations' mapping departments, generally, have been in operation for only a short time. The most established, the Strategic Watershed Analysis Team in Hazelton, has been mapping for over four years while the majority have existed for around two years (Collier interview 1998). The mapping component of one First Nation, the Katzie, has only been in existence since late 1997 (Blackbird interview 1998). These facts do not suggest, however, that mapping has not been a concern of aboriginal governance in B . C . for some time; in reality many have an established history of map production. The Lheidl i Tenneh Nation, for example, has been mapping their traditional territory manually (using mylar overlays) since 1984 but have only recently begun incorporating this data into a GIS (Seymour interview 1998). The evident development of First Nations GIS mapping departments in recent years can be explained by the existence of the formal treaty process mandating identification of traditional lands and of the increased prevalence of aboriginal resource management. First Nations have developed GIS capabilities to meet their formal spatial planning needs and demands. The work presently being done by the interviewed mappers confirms this proposition. While engaged in a variety of mapping activities, the subject matter focuses on the issues of traditional lands and natural resources. Every group interviewed is engaged in some form of mapping for land claims. Such work is characterized by the identification of traditional territories through the mapping of historical and contemporary land use activities. Four nations have completed or are actively involved in Traditional Use Studies and two are doing GIS analyses of archeological sites. A l l seven are using GIS in some way to generate an image of their nations' lands. The use of computer mapping for resource management is clearly evident as well . Two nations are using GIS in the creation of Land and Resource Management Plans ( L R M P ' s ) while Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 73 five of seven nations made explicit reference to some form of resource mapping. Ecosystem modeling, impact assessment, wildlife inventories and habitat assessment, forestry, "cultural resources" and fisheries were all named as subjects for GIS mapping. A s aboriginal governance is strengthened by legislation and land claims settlements, local control over resources increases. Consequently, resource management wi l l figure more prominently in First Nations governance and therefore in mapping activities. Already there is clear evidence that resource management is a fundamental component of First Nations GIS work. First Nations' mapping offices generally only have a limited staff. The largest department - the Gitxsan S W A T - has a permanent staff of four (Vegh interview, 1998). The remainder have either one or two GIS operators. These offices, however, do not operate in isolation within their nations. They are integrated into the governance structure and their work relates to the interests of the nation they work for. Their tasks are generally defined by the priorities identified by their nation and they can be considered to be one component - a technical arm - of a broader political structure. A s suggested in Chapter 3, GIS is a complicated technology with a steep and difficult learning curve. The interviews are able to give some indication of how the mappers were able to develop the complex set of skills necessary to run a geographic information system. A number of the GIS operators received formal training where others were educated on-the-job. Only one mapper of ten received post-secondary training in a dedicated GIS program, completing the British Columbia Institute of Technology's Advanced Diploma in GIS (Blackbird interview 1998). Another took a two year information systems course at the College of New Caledonia (which provided a foundation for the development of GIS skills). The private sector has played an important role in providing education. Three of the ten interview subjects received training Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 74 from private industry, one through a two-summer internship with Macgregor Model Forests and two through arrangements made with industry for GIS education (Hall , Logan, Seymour interviews 1998). One of these mappers supplemented his education with a training arrangement with the provincial government's Land Use Co-ordination Office. Informal, on-the-job training is clearly an important element in the development of mapping skills. Almost every mapper has received important training in the work environment; three suggest that it has been their primary means of skill development (Campbell, Collier, Vegh interviews 1998). Several nations brought in outside consultants to provide training in-house (Campbell, Hal l interviews 1998). Finally, Ecotrust Canada, whose GIS education for First Nations initiatives are mentioned in Chapter 4, shows an impact on skil l development. Three GIS users identified Ecotrust as having an important influence on their GIS education. The GIS users show a wide range in the amount of time that they have been working with the technology. One mapper has fifteen years of hands-on experience while another claims "six months, two weeks" (Rhodes, Campbell interviews 1998). Discounting these two extremes, the remaining mappers have used GIS for an average of four years. This figure suggests that there is a good amount of experience in First Nations mapping offices. It is evident that these mappers do not come from the same mold; they have developed their map-making skills in a variety of different ways and have varying levels of experience. It is also important to note that they come from a variety of backgrounds. A l l of the mappers are of First Nations origin, but not all are necessarily working for their own nation. There is, however, strong evidence of connectedness to home territories. Eight mappers work for their ancestral nation. Two are from out-of-province, one from Alberta and one from Manitoba. These two are Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 75 highly skilled GIS technicians and have been hired by nations in B . C . in the absence of locally qualified persons (Blackbird, Rhodes interviews 1998). Looking at this small sample, it is apparent that these First Nations GIS mapping departments possess certain key characteristics. Generally they have a limited but skilled staff who are of First Nations origin. They all work on mapping for land claims and the majority do some sort of natural resource analysis. It is also clear that there is a commonality in the operational problems faced by these departments; all of them articulated experiences that were notably similar. 5.2 Complexities in GIS Implementation and Operation The experiences of mapping described by the interview subjects strongly validated Le Dressay's (1993) identification of areas of difficulty in GIS implementation by First Nations. In his analysis of the Shuswap Nation's experience developing its GIS capabilities, he concluded that funding, data acquisition, training and hardware and software selection were barriers to capacity building. The present research corroborates his assertion, providing evidence that these are indeed significant hurdles. 5.2.1 Funding Funding is clearly one of two paramount concerns (along with data acquisition) for First Nations mappers. The reality of operating a technologically complex mapping department in a context of often-limited resources is proving a significant obstacle to effective GIS operation. A l l of the GIS users interviewed expressed the difficulties in securing core funding. Clearly GIS analyses are an important i f not requisite component of aboriginal governance in the late 1990s, Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 7 6 yet the capital demands of running a mapping department require that mappers demonstrate their worth to the nation and mandate creative responses to funding shortages. As one mapper suggests: " right now they [her nation's leaders] are looking at our GIS as a big red hole" (Seymour interview 1998). Such sentiments were confirmed by another GIS operator who had to work hard to convince his employers of the necessity of purchasing expensive software in a context of limited resources (Blackbird interview 1998). Moreover, government cutbacks to support for treaty development in the last year have had significant impacts on the amount of resources First Nations governments can allocate for GIS use. One mapper suggests that shifting government priorities in spending have had a significant impact on her department's ability to map: Wel l , the biggest project that we had was the wildlife inventory and habitat assessment. Because of politics at the Victoria level the rise and fall of industry here, the funding that was coming from F R B C 8 , a lot of that got used for the bailout of Skeena Cellulose. A n d then we went from a $200,000 project to a $45,000 project (Vegh interview 1998). Similar cutbacks have affected other nations. One nation's treaty office suffered severely when funds allocated to the British Columbia Treaty Commission were cut drastically (Campbell, Ha l l interview 1998). As a consequence, this nation's mapping staff had to reduce their hours to part-time. Mapping, it has been suggested, is clearly a fundamental component of aboriginal governance in British Columbia. The tenuous economic situation of many First Nations governments, however, compromises the ability of their GIS departments to work effectively. Their human and capital resources are consequently limited. Some departments have taken to contracting out their services to other First Nations, to government or to industry with the 8 Forest Renewal British Columbia, a provincial government program created to restructure practices in the forestry industry. Revenue was derived from stumpage fees. Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 11 intention of securing core funding. The S W A T has been successful in soliciting outside mapping work and acquires the fiscal resources to be self-sustaining and able to support a full time staff of four mappers (Vegh interview 1998). The Lheidli-Tenneh and Sto:lo have similarly taken steps to contract out GIS work with the intention of supplementing internal funding (Fowler, Rhodes and Seymour interviews 1998). Funding shortfalls obviously compromise the mapping capabilities of First Nations. Despite having well-trained staff, GIS mapping departments often suffer from insufficient resources to sustain the levels of mapping they need for adequate governance and planning. They are only able to employ a limited number of GIS operators, computer hardware is often old and inefficient, and the quality and quantity of data necessary to effectively map is compromised. 5.2.2 Data Concerns A l l the mappers interviewed expressed frustration regarding the acquisition of data. In many cases, the small departments are simply overwhelmed with the expense and volume of data necessary to undertake the map-production necessary for land claims or resource management. Further, technical issues such as poor data quality and data compatibility are compromising their ability to exploit what data there is available. Again, there is some evidence of creative solutions to address these problems. GIS data is expensive. To undergo a rigorous GIS analysis, it is necessary that you have an accurate topographical basemap correlated to real world coordinates and sufficient attribute data to address your concerns. Simply acquiring a base layer is a significant problem. The Sto:lo Nation, for example, has a huge territory. B . C . government T R I M maps (Terrain Resource Inventory Maps) are considered the standard basemap for mapping in the province due to their accuracy and consistency. To cover the Sto:lo territory using 1:20,000 T R I M maps Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 78 would require 105 mapsheets at a cost of $600 each, totaling $63,000. To date, the nation has not been able to cover their entire territory, having only acquired 87 mapsheets, therefore compromising their ability to generate GIS analyses (Rhodes interview 1998). First Nations territories are characteristically large, therefore making the acquisition of adequate basemap data a fundamental problem. The quality of available data is similarly identified as a concern for First Nations mappers. L e Dressay's (1993) article states that T R I M basemaps did not exist for all of the Shuswap Nation's traditional territory. Russell Coll ier (interview 1998) of the Gitxsan S W A T identifies the same problem: "at the time we acquired T R I M , it was not available everywhere and there were some suspicious holes - black holes, we called them - in some significant areas." Similar problems are evident in the acquisition of attribute data, that is, data that describe the character of geographic phenomena (e.g., pine trees, salmon spawning areas, two-lane highways). A wide variety of attribute data is available to First Nations mappers, most notably from the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of the Environment who can provide important information on vegetation cover. Once again, however, there are significant absences in the data. The data from the Ministry of Forests is pragmatic in character, in that it only describes lands on which forestry is an option. Consequently, parks and protected areas are unmapped, leaving significant 'black holes' in some First Nations' traditional territories (Blackbird interview 1998). Many First Nations have the skills and resources to create their own data to supplement existing data. They are able to integrate information derived from interviews, archival research and field observation on subjects regarding traditional and contemporary patterns of land use. The resources and skills do not exist, however, to create basemap data or generate the volume and quality of data possible from the provincial government ministries. 'Black holes', Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 79 insufficient data and prohibitive costs are proving significant barriers to effective GIS analyses. These problems are compounded by the complexities of data compatibility. The existence of a wide variety of GIS software platforms results in the creation of data of different formats which are incompatible. Three departments suggested that they are having trouble using data from different sources as they are often incompatible: "because of the different systems that are out there, it's hard to get them all to talk to each other. Compatibility, translating them from one to the other, it just doesn't work" (Logan interview 1998). A variety of data may exist describing a First Nation's territory, yet incompatibility compromises the ability to do GIS analyses using the data. Some steps can be taken to mitigate these data problems. Partnerships can be created to overcome the difficulties of data acquisition. The Ahousaht First Nation, for example, became part of a larger organization - the Long Beach Model Forest Community GIS Program - and was consequently able to acquire collectively-held T R I M data (Frank interview 1998). Data sharing agreements or partnerships with the government and industry are also evident (Blackbird, Seymour interviews 1998). The Katzie First Nation developed an information-sharing agreement with the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of the Environment wherein they were able to acquire forestry cover and T R I M data for mapping in their own territory. Although some means to manage problems in data acquisition exist, it is evident that data expense and quality are noteworthy problems for First Nations mapping departments 5.2.3 Other Difficulties in Implementation and Operation L e Dressay (1993) identifies two other primary areas of difficulty for aboriginal mappers: training and hardware/software. Training is a prevalent problem. GIS is a complex and intimidating technology, and training a GIS operator to a functional level requires significant Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 80 outlay of human and capital resources. Few of the interviewed mappers have graduated from a formal institution. Synergistic, on-the-job learning within departments, however, is proving to be an important element in the continuing education of mappers. Additionally, community outreach is raising level of sensitivity and understanding of GIS capabilities and constraints. Ecotrust Canada's training programs clearly have had an impact. The Sto:lo Nation's GIS department has the intention of developing a similar outreach program to its 18 member-bands wherein basic training in GIS wi l l be offered to interested individuals by the skilled technicians who work for the Nation (Fowler, Rhodes interviews 1998). First Nations are faced with the problem of having a limited number of persons who have the ability to run a GIS yet there is strong evidence of innovative ways of building the local technical capacity through outreach and synergistic training. Hardware and software problems in many ways relate to issues already discussed. Funding shortfalls unquestionably have an important effect. GIS software is very expensive (an A R C / I N F O software license alone can cost $8000 a year) and the hardware necessary to create maps (computers, monitors and digitizers) and output them (plotters) have to be powerful and consequently are expensive. Several mappers specified outdated or broken-down equipment as a barrier to map production (Campbell, Hal l interviews 1998). Others elaborated on how funding constraints result in long waits for hardware and software upgrades and how it was sometimes a struggle to convince nation leaders to release funding for expensive GIS technologies (Blackbird, Logan interviews 1998). This documentation of the difficulties experienced by the interviewed GIS mappers is intended to illustrate the context in which First Nations mapping departments operate. The Aboriginal Mapping Network evolved in this context. The following sections w i l l confirm the Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 81 network developers' hypothesis that First Nations are mapping in isolation - the primary justification for the development of the Network - and wi l l look at ways in which the prototype network is effective in reaching its mandate of "networking the aboriginal mapping community." 5.3 The Prob lem of Isolation It has been argued in this thesis that First Nations have to create maps as a fundamental component of contemporary political action. The implementation and operational difficulties catalogued above are suggestive of the fact that mapping is not a straightforward activity, but in fact is wrought with difficulties concerning funding, data, training and hardware and software. The development of mapping capabilities among First Nations is compromised further by the isolation that exists between mappers of different nations. The experiences of those mappers interviewed confirm the hypothesis suggested by the developers of the Aboriginal Mapping Network that First Nations mapping is characterized by isolation and a failure to capitalize on existing knowledge. The creation of linkages between mappers through the medium of the Network is an important step in the building of First Nations GIS capacities. The interviewed mappers are almost unanimous in agreement on this fact. There is much to gain and very little to lose, they suggest, in the creation of an aboriginal mapping community. The present reality of isolated GIS development results in "wedges being driven between local communities." (Frank interview 1998). A s mappers get further down their own developmental paths, they develop their own methods and means of mapping and lose the ability to interact productively with other nations. In this situation, each First Nation is forced to reinvent the wheel when GIS capabilities are Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 82 developed in isolation, rather than looking to the knowledge gained by other nations (Vegh interview 1998). It is argued that "you often need peer contact for ideas and for growth" in GIS development (Collier interview 1998). A unity of purpose and a shared knowledge base are invaluable assets. Community-building, the fundamental goal of the Aboriginal Mapping Network, wi l l explicitly benefit First Nations by augmenting mapping skills and preserving already limited resources: "al l of us First Nations have to know what each other's doing and we all need to build relationships so we can problem-solve different problems" (Logan interview 1998). Moreover, the development of a community of mappers w i l l strengthen and bind the First Nations community in general: "[The] sharing of ideas, tips and other information related to GIS among First Nation user groups [is] important to reaching our shared objectives as a people" (Campbell, Ha l l interview 1998). Not everybody, however, sees the necessity of cohesion and the development of a mapping community. Members of an established GIS mapping department, while appreciative of the information available on the Aboriginal Mapping Network website, failed to see the benefit of sharing their experience with other nations: "you don't really expect communities to interact. I guess we would share i f we had to, i f there's a need to. But it's not like [the city of] Surrey is telling other towns what they're doing, it's really none of their business" (Fowler, Rhodes interview 1998). W e l l established and highly skilled, these mappers are content to work in isolation. They see the Network as a repository of valuable and useful information that can benefit their GIS analyses, but they believe that inter-nation communication is of little use to them. Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 83 The large majority of mappers do believe that overcoming the isolation that exists between First Nations in terms of mapping is important and mutually beneficial. The Aboriginal Mapping Network, they feel, is an innovative and appropriate means of creating linkages between nations and ultimately building capacity in GIS skills. There is room for improvement in the form of the network itself, this fact is clear. The Network was developed with the idea that its form would be dynamic, that it would develop and refine itself over time: Nothing worthwhile ever comes easily. Y o u don't just get it plopped in your lap and expect it.. .hey, I've got this website up and magic is going to happen. It isn't going to do that; it's going to take a lot of work on a lot of people's parts to keep it moving, keep adding new stuff to it. We see it as an accretion process where we keep adding layer by layer by layer to this thing, in a similar process that we've used with adding layers on maps. Start with a base idea and with a base map, and start adding stuff on to it (Collier interview 1998). To realize its goal of networking the aboriginal mapping community, the Network has to be innovative, useful and appealing to First Nations mappers. The balance of this chapter provides a formative evaluation of the Network, exploring strengths and weaknesses of existing components and contemplating funding possibilities and the Network's future management. 5.4 Network Evaluation A formative evaluation provides a means to suggest improvements to a program so that it better serves the interests of its target community. This thesis has conveyed an image of the context in which First Nations mappers work, describing the form of the mapping done and the difficulties faced, both through secondary research and primary interviews. What follows is an evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network in this context wherein the Network wi l l be explored at both a focused (component by component) scale and a broader (functional management) scale. Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 84 5.4.1 Network Usage For reasons identified in Chapter 4, the Network exists as a web page. This web page was placed on-line on June 1 s t, 1998, after its launch was announced through a mailout to First Nations, environmentalist organizations, consultants and GIS industry representatives. Initially, interest was quite high, the site registering 4971 hits 9 in June. The following month, however, saw a drop of over 2000 hits. With the exception of December, the rest of 1998 and early 1999 has witnessed a greater than average usage of the Network, with January 1999 (the time of this writing) registering 6845 hits. The average number of monthly hits has been 4923. Table 5.1 - Aboriginal Mapping Network Website: Hits Per Month June July August September October November December January Average Hits 4971 2948 3638 4903 5719 5453 4906 6845 4923 Interpretation of these figures is straightforward. High figures for June represent the initial interest resulting from the mailing wherein people explored the website for the first time. In the months following the launch, the site remained static. When users returned to the site, they found little new material and therefore visited with decreasing frequency. In the later fall, new information was placed on-line, notably spotlights from different First Nations illustrating new experiences in mapping. It can be argued that this has attracted users of the site. Additionally, it can be assumed that word is spreading about the site and that search engines are 9 A "hit" occurs when a web site is accessed by an external viewer. These statistics were generated automatically by the server that hosts the Aboriginal Mapping Network. Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 85 registering it in their databases, therefore increasing the number of visitors. It is also likely that links to the Aboriginal Mapping Network homepage have been placed on other relevant sites. The statistics for January suggest that the home page, the introduction to the website, is by far the most accessed. Twenty per cent of all hits are to this page. The other most popular pages, registering between three and five per cent of all hits are the Mapping Showcase, Data, Mapping Tools, Traditional Use Studies, Links, and Stories, News and Reviews. This information conveys an interest by website users in finding out what other First Nations mappers are doing and also in learning more about methods of mapping. Users are spending the most time, on average, on pages relating to the showcase and to methods. The average time spent looking at the mapping showcase, for example is 98 seconds. These statistics can be viewed as an expression by mappers of their interest in what other First Nations are doing in their mapping work, and how they are doing it. 5.4.2 Access to the Internet The internet - specifically the Wor ld Wide Web - is the primary medium through which the Aboriginal Mapping Network is manifest. Recent years have seen astounding growth in the use of the web as a tool for communication, education and entertainment. The Network, it is suggested in Chapter 4, was created as a website because it was an affordable and logical means to make the Network accessible to a dispersed population. The medium of the web has identifiable strengths and weaknesses. The internet inherently overcomes barriers of distance. First Nations mappers in B . C . are dispersed throughout the province, often l iving in isolated communities. Communicating directly with other mappers is difficult and direct contact is seldom a reality for even when there Source: www.paconline.net Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 86 are conferences, funds are not always available for travel or work obligations limit time. A s a website, the network can be accessed remotely and on one's own terms and schedule. The web breaks down previously restrictive distances and creates a unique space for the sharing of knowledge and experience and the development of communication linkages. We're spread out. We're really geographically dispersed. A n d the web is a really easy tool to connect with. It's really simple to dial into a place.. .there's even on-line chat stuff which web browsers are capable of. It just speeds up communications (Collier interview 1998) In the context of limited resources and a very dispersed population, the internet allows the Network to exist in an effective and accessible form. The web is an appropriate tool because "there are not many organizations who have the time, financial or human resources to do it any other way. [...] It closes the distance gap between people" (Vegh interview 1998). Innovative technologies intrinsic to the web augment its communication and educational potential. Maps are visual objects and the web has the capability to reproduce images for remote viewing: "this web thing is very visual" (Collier interview 1998). Additionally, the web-platform allows for the integration of components that facilitate direct, 'real-time' communication. For example, using the electronic chat board on the Network website, mappers can pose questions, describe methodologies and convey information in a common space remotely. This information can be shared and experienced in a unique way. A final technological asset of the Network's internet-based character is its update-ability. The site can be accessed remotely and quickly, effectively and inexpensively updated. A s new information becomes available, it can be easily integrated into the existing framework and components can be augmented, modified, added or deleted as need dictates. The question of access is an important one. This concern was expressed by the Network developers who suggest that some First Nations may experience "slow connections, bad Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 87 connections or no connections at a l l " (Carruthers interview 1998). Mappers themselves are split on whether or not this is a concern. Several feel that internet access is not a difficulty for First Nations in the province, or that i f access is a problem, it wi l l soon be overcome: Some of us out here in the boonies are fortunate to have the internet considering the phone lines we have and so forth. [...] But lately it is very few [who do not have internet access], and I think that what's happening is that it's going to lessen even more because the other big name companies who offer telephone services are looking our way [...] to offer their service. And , well , competition is good for the consumer (Frank interview 1998). Other First Nations mappers, however, consider the question of internet access more problematic. A GIS technician from the Sto:lo Nation considers internet access by member bands (there are eighteen) a rarity despite the nation's proximity to Vancouver: I know that the majority of them don't even have internet. Y o u know, 200 people work here and there's only three people on internet in our whole organization [the Sto.lo Nation]. So it's really limited. Y o u have to realize that the technology is not up to par yet. They're really trying to catch up. The webpage is really great for bands that have internet, and a lot of them don't (Fowler interview 1998). A colleague reiterates: "I think that you're missing the huge population; you're only getting a few of us. It's the Internet. We can't even internet our own bands. None of our bands have it" (Rhodes interview 1998). Access is clearly considered a problem by some; so too are technical capabilities. A s suggested earlier in this chapter, mapping departments are often short of capital resources and consequently hardware and software is outdated, inefficient or malfunctioning. The Network website is graphics-intensive, in that it requires a fast modem and up-to-date software for effective use. Active participation in the chat board similarly demands sophisticated technology. The capacity for some First Nations groups is sometimes limited by technology: In my opinion, one of the problems I found was I couldn't look at [the Network website] it in the office because most of the hardware in the office, and in bands in general I would say, they don't have the most up-to-date equipment and the Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 8f speed of the modems and things like that, I found it to be really slow. When I did look at it I looked at it at home. I have a faster machine and a faster hookup there (Blackbird interview 1998). Access to the internet, both in terms of shortfalls in technology and the existence of actual provision of internet service are clearly important issues. The question of actually acquiring internet connections, particularly in remote areas, is beyond the control of First Nations themselves. There is expressed optimism, however, that internet connections wi l l soon be standard throughout the province. In terms of acquiring adequate hardware and software and the means to use it, there is core funding available from the federal government for this purpose (Rhodes interview 1998). Individual bands are able to apply for a $10,000 grant from the government to develop internet capacities. This funding would allow individual First Nations groups to acquire the technology and the skills to efficiently access the web and therefore actively participate in the Aboriginal Mapping Network. It would help overcome the barriers to internet use described above. R E C O M M E N D A T I O N : • The Aboriginal Mapping Network could disseminate information on the availability of internet related funding from government sources. Any future mailout to First Nations concerning the Network could include some basic description of the funding available and how to acquire it. __ ; The internet has the potential to be an effective vehicle to bring the Network to its 'clients,' the First Nations mappers. There are, however, some refinements that must be made to the Network i f it is to be effective in "networking the aboriginal mapping community." There are questions of exposure, funding and management that have to be addressed in order for the Network to realize its potential. Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 89 5.4.3 Website Components The Network website, described in Chapter 4, contains many elements. In the course of the interviews, the mappers were asked to identify which components were of greatest utility to them and what could be added to the site, i f possible. There were clearly elements of the website that were considered most useful, notably the provision of spotlights or examples and the electronic chat board. The identification of these areas is reflective of the desire of mappers to learn what others are doing and to communicate with each other. A s such, it affirms the Aboriginal Mapping Network's mandate in that it demonstrates an interest in creating a networked mapping community. • Spotlights/Stories, News and Reviews - Seven of the ten mappers identified information on other nations' experiences with GIS mapping as one of the most important parts of the website. This can be seen as an inherent expression of the desire to learn from experience and to diminish the existing context of isolation. First Nations mappers have very limited means to hear what is being done (and how) by other nations outside of the conference context (which many do not attend). The website provides a dynamic visual medium for conveying this knowledge and is a means for mappers to learn from the trial and error efforts of others without having to go through the process, to "reinvent the wheel," themselves: One of the things I thought, some of the examples and the stories, where people can go back and forth and whether it was something that was helpful or something that hadn't worked out for them. I think that's part of the best part of it, is being able to explain to different people, [...] of getting that network base where you can actually communicate to others, because there's nothing more frustrating than getting into something and trying it and trying it and a couple of months down the road you find out that somebody else tried it and it didn't work anyway (Blackbird interview 1998). Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 90 Spotlights and stories facilitate the sharing of experience. They enable mappers to learn synergistically by reading what others have done and through the sharing of personal experiences. Moreover, it serves to facilitate the expression of a community ethos wherein feelings of shared experience are conveyed and developed. Case studies can be seen as learning tools and community-building tools that bring First Nations mappers together. R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S : • Network users could be encouraged to submit stories documenting their experiences with GIS technology, data collection, methods, and analysis and use them as frequently rotated spotlights. Alternatively, a network coordinator or intern could research and write experiential stories in partnership with the mappers. The S W A T and Tsleil-Waututh spotlights are good existing examples of such experiential stories. • Existing spotlights could be archived on-line where they can be accessed. • A l l users of the site could be encouraged to submit a brief summary of their current mapping work. The summaries could include a brief description of the kind of mapping done (e.g. Traditional Use Study, wildlife habitat modeling), the size and form of their department, the software used and contact information. This information could be submitted using an on-line form. Such data does not exist and would be very valuable in conveying a picture of First Nations mapping in B . C . Additionally, it would provide a stimulus for communication between mappers sharing similar experiences. • The Chat Board/Chat board and Feedback - The electronic chat board component of the site is the most direct means for First Nations mappers to communicate with each other. It provides a space where they can meet to pose and answer questions, tell stories and provide tips. It is one of the most effective ways to overcome the barrier of distance and establish direct knowledge-sharing linkages between mappers which are created by the mappers on their own terms. The chat board was identified as an important Network element by seven of the ten mappers. Its value and potential as a connecting tool was well understood and appreciated. As a Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 91 dynamic, effective and easy to use means of communication, its future usage is considered likely. A s one mapper, a regular user of a similar E S R I 1 1 technical support chat board, suggests: I think that exactly they're going to use [the chat board]. I find that through the phone lines, through snail mail, through other forms of communication, it isn't always as successful in bringing across the message. But with this being in one place where everyone comes and meets centrally, there are not concerns about where we should have the meeting, is it feasible to have it with the expenses that we wi l l run into. None of the concerns in having regular meetings are found when you have this chat board. A s long as a person has access to the internet, you know, they have access to the discussion that everyone is on-going with (Blackbird interview 1998). The chat board, then, can overcome distance, expense and other limiting factors yet still advance the functional sharing of knowledge. Several suggestions regarding the chat board were forwarded. It was thought that the board be divided up into forums based on subject matter: "I think that there would be different rooms for different topic areas. If it was organized by topics, that would be helpful" (Vegh interview 1998). Examples of subjects could include: technical software support (perhaps even subdivided by company), Traditional Use Studies, data sources, hardware, etc. Another suggestion was that non-members have some form of access to the chat board so that they can understand how it functions and can see its utility. Possibilities are to have a static screen-shot of an active chat session placed on-line or to allow non-members the chance to participate (or at least observe) for a limited time: I think that your chatline should have a couple of freebies [laughs]. So people can get hooked. Right now you can't even get on to get hooked. Y o u have to be a member. What you [need] is a couple of freebies. Once you capture their attention, then they'll want to become members. [....] Now when you go in it just give you a red screen (Rhodes interview 1998). " Environmental Systems Research Institute, the makers of the GIS software: ARC/INFO, Arc View and Atlas GIS. Their chat board served as a reference in the development of the Aboriginal Mapping Network chat board. See http://www.esri.com/usersupport/index.html Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 92 The chat board is a valuable component of the Network website and mappers are well aware of the worth it has to bring them together despite distance, time and financial resource constraints. Several small modifications seem necessary, however, before this component is used to its full potential. R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S : • The chat board could be divided into logical forums which reflect the interests of First Nations mappers. Forums could be defined on technological, methodological and practical terms. • Allow for limited access to the chat board by non-members. Static screen-shots, . observation without participation or participation for a limited time using a temporary password are all feasible solutions. • F T P (File Transfer Protocol/Support - F T P is an integral part of geographic information systems mapping for it enables users to send digital data through the internet to other users or institutions, or allows the remote retrieval of data. For example, using F T P , remotely situated GIS technicians are able to download digital coverages from provincial ministries or share files with other nations. F T P services already exist and are used; one mapper has access to F T P and does not feel that the Aboriginal Mapping Network F T P utility is necessary (Fowler interview 1998). Another, however, suggests that F T P is an indispensable service that is not always dependable, therefore it is important to have options: I use F T P all the time. We boot files back and forth all over the place regularly. A n d we have had a recent experience again sending something [...] where we had to try three different F T P sites before one finally worked. There are bottlenecks that happen at different times and different places around [....] It just helps having alternatives (Collier interview 1998). The ability to transfer files through the internet using the Network's F T P server was thought of as being advantageous by three interviewed mappers either as an alternative to existing services or as a unique one (Blackbird, Collier, Logan interviews 1998). Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 93 R E C O M M E N D A T I O N : • Maintain the existing FTP (file transfer protocol) component of the Network website. • Provide a description of what its capabilities are, on-line instructions for its use and links to sites where FTP software can be downloaded (eg. http://mirror.direct.ca/tucows/ftp95.htmI). • Other Website Components - Although the Network website contains a substantial number of sections, the components discussed above (the spotlights/stories, chat board and FTP) are clearly and repeatedly identified as the most important and useful by site users. A few other components were also well-received. Three mappers recalled having spent time exploring the links page (Contacts and Links) where users can link to websites of First Nations organizations, government and GIS: "I liked the links. You can link to whatever sites you need to" (Rhodes interview 1998). Two mappers also recognized the worth of the sections on funding (Support), which reflects the fact that First Nations mapping departments are generally working under resource constraints and are will ing to look towards creative solutions to funding difficulties (Fowler, Rhodes interviews 1998). Two suggestions for additions to the site were made. Roman Frank of the Ahousaht First Nation suggested the creation of an "established data set area simply for our members, using a user name or password, where we could share scripts, actual work-related files across the board" (Frank interview 1998). Sophisticated GIS analyses are often dependent on macros, or sub-programs, which are written by users. These scripts are complex and very useful, and Frank is aware of the value of sharing these files through the medium of the Network site. A similar suggestion is forwarded by Russell Collier of S W A T , who would like to see an on-line collection Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 94 of scripts and macros as well as a repository of other utilities that would facilitate the functioning of any GIS department: Utilities. Freebie utilities. We could scour around for them all over the place. A n d I know that people like to write them. Macros, scripts, you know, weird stuff like that. [...] Wel l , why the heck can't we get some of this cheap software around or at least have the links to them? [For example,] If I want to make brochures to promote our shop. I don't want to find a big graphic design outfit, pay them thousands and thousands of dollars to work up our logo properly and all our brochures and presentation maps and our portfolio. Those are expensive. Those are things that we might do down the road. I want something I can work with now, where I can boot off a few maps and photos and throw something together (Collier interview 1998). Both mappers see the Network as a means to increase efficiencies in GIS mapping by First Nations through the provision of programs, sub-programs and macros. A section of the site could serve either as a repository or as an information source with internet links to providers. R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S : • T h e I , n k s Page could be further developed. This section should be updated and maintained frequently; encourage users to submit sites they have found, perhaps using an on-line form, and have an administrator or intern search for new sites on the web and check status of existing ones. • Update the funding page when possible with a diversity of information. Subjects need , n o t b e , , m , t e d exclusively to mapping, but also to other activities that support the functioning of a mapping department (for example, information on funding for internet c a p a c i t y "Pgrading). Once again, encourage participation from Network users. • Create a component of the site that focuses on programs that increase efficiencies. This area can provide scripts, macros, or programs that are not GIS-specific and that benefit a mapping department more generally (e.g., publishing software, word processing Where interest in the website lies is a reflection of the concerns of First Nations mappers. The Network developers, and the mappers themselves, suggest that aboriginal mapping is characterized by isolation which leads to inefficiencies and the duplication of efforts. The Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 9 5 components identified by the interviewees as most useful are suggestive of a desire to overcome this isolation. Spotlights and stories enable mappers to learn what others are doing while the chat board facilitates direct communication and knowledge sharing. The F T P service allows mappers not only to download data from external sources, but also to share data, programs, macros, etc. among themselves quickly and efficiently. Other components of the website are important and no redundant features were identified. While the spotlights and chat board should be the focus of attention for development, the remainder of the site should not be neglected. In a context of limited resources, however, the feedback provided by site users indicates where greatest attention should be paid. 5.4.4 Exposure David Carruthers, a Network co-developer suggests, "that the largest barrier that [the Network] faces is exposure" (Carruthers interview 1998). The website exists and is readily accessible on-line, yet it is not used to the fullest extent possible. Increasing rates of usership indicate that the site is growing in popularity, yet the number of 'hits' on the web remains relatively low. This is indicative of the fact that the target population - the First Nations mappers - are dispersed and isolated, and therefore knowledge about the Aboriginal Mapping Network is spreading slowly. Despite the benefits of internet access, stimulating interest in the Network remains difficult. Initial interest in the Network was generated by a mailout to many different First Nations, organizations, N G O ' s and agencies. The mailout is an effective tool for conveying information immediately and effectively. It can be used to provide updates to the website, information on the Network and on First Nations mapping in general. Mailouts should convey evidence that the site is tangible and real; as one mapper suggests, "my idea [...] is i f you actually take snapshots of Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 96 the site and print it off in a mailout, to show some of these people that there is a site out there and it does exist" (Blackbird interview 1998). Additionally, these mailings should include information about internet access and funding for the development of internet capabilities to mitigate the isolation of communities not yet serviced by the internet. It must be recognized, however, that mailouts are expensive, almost prohibitively so, in a context of limited resources. The internet itself can be used to provide information and stimulate interest in the Network. Thirteen of the original eighteen First Nations mappers contacted for interviews confirmed that they had access to e-mail. This fact suggests that e-mail is a prevalent form of communication and thus could be utilized to encourage use of the Network and keep users abreast of developments. The internet can also be used in other ways to spread information about the Aboriginal Mapping Network. Managers of websites for aboriginal organizations, educational institutions and GIS companies should be approached and asked i f they would be wil l ing to include links to the network within their sites. Further, information on the network can be placed in the commonly-referenced Internet White Pages and Internet Yellow Pages, published by I D G Books Worldwide Inc., and in GIS industry publications (Campbell, Ha l l interviews 1998). Annual GIS conferences (i.e. GIS '99) have an affiliated First Nations GIS conference which in the past has been used as a sounding board for the development of the Aboriginal Mapping Network. Conferences provide a unique opportunity to convey information about the Network to an interested and enthusiastic audience, and to sound out new ideas. These conferences should continue to be seen as a means to disseminate information through presentations, roundtable discussions, poster displays and literature. Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 97 Enthusiasm for the Network and its potential is significant during conferences, but interest wanes under the immediate pressures of running a GIS department: When I was in the conference they seemed a lot more excited about it than the way it's turning out now. To me it sounded like everybody wanted to get on line, but as soon as they get back to their communities it kind of goes into the back of their minds and they forget about it. Y o u guys are having the very same problem that we are but at a community level, as to communications (Seymour interview 1998). Communication through mailouts and e-mail, as suggested above are imperative to stimulate and maintain interest in the site. A s mappers become more involved in using the website, and as improvements discussed in earlier sections are implemented, usage and enthusiasm w i l l continue to grow. For the website to remain attractive and actively used, it must remain dynamic and frequently updated. This is an important challenge facing the Network. The site remained static for many months after it was initially placed on-line so that when users returned after their initial exploration, they found nothing new and seldom returned: I've only visited it twice now since I talked to you, and it's just like there's nothing new on it. So that's why I haven't been back. Unless the spotlight has changed. I can see that everybody's very busy, you know, that's a full time job to keep a web site up and running and new and exciting for everybody. I think that is a job in itself, basically, for gathering information (Seymour interview 1998). Keeping the site active demands a significant financial and managerial commitment. How the Aboriginal Mapping Network can respond to these demands is the subject of the following sections on funding and management. R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S : • mailouts could be used to inform First Nations GIS users about the Network. Include hardcopy printouts of pages from the site, information about recent additions and information about developing or improving internet access. Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 98 • E-mail could be further developed as a communications tool. Ask users of the site to register their e-mail address on-line and create a database! that can be used for future communications. • Publicize the Network by establishing links on aboriginal, educational and GIS industry websites. • Continue to use annual First Nations GIS conferences as a means to disseminate information on the Aboriginal Mapping Network through presentations, discussions, displays and literature. 5.4.5 Membership Fees and Funding As with individual GIS departments, perhaps the greatest difficulty facing the Aboriginal Mapping Network is funding. At present, Ecotrust Canada is maintaining the Network with its own resources and with help from a grant from the Wilburforce Foundation. The expressed intention of the Network developers is that it be self-sustaining within three to five years and operate on a cost-recovery basis (Ecotrust Canada 1997). The cost of effectively managing the Network is significant, however, i f it is to be truly independent, supporting its own administration, technical equipment, office space and so on. Ecotrust Canada's first proposal to the Vancouver Foundation, for example, asked for $97,000 (Ecotrust Canada 1997). Finding these resources demands creativity. There are two ways to acquire funding for the Network, but they are not mutually exclusive. Funding can come from within the community as user fees, or membership subscriptions. Resources can also come from outside, from the government or from private foundations. There is a wide diversity of ideas of how the Network can sustain itself, and perhaps the best solution is to look both inside and outside the mapping community and refine existing approaches to funding. Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 99 Presently, First Nations GIS users who wish to become members of the Network are asked to pay a $150 membership fee. For this fee they have access to Network F T P and chat board services, they are given space to host their own website and they are offered a discount on fees for the annual Aboriginal Mapping Network Conference. To date this approach has not been very successful; very few people have actually paid to become members. The impacts are notable. Firstly, the Network is short of funds to develop the website to its fullest potential and to keep it dynamic, therefore losing the attention of users. Secondly, the chat board feature is underutilized, which again discourages its use and amounts to its failure as a vehicle to share knowledge on mapping. A significant problem is the shortage of capital resources within First Nations mapping departments. Simply existing is a struggle, as maintaining a technical mapping office in a First Nations context is draining on what limited funds there are. In fact, during the course of the present research, two prospective interview subjects were laid off as their nation could no longer afford to pay their salaries and maintain their GIS department. First Nations mappers are faced with critical decisions on how to allocate what limited funding exists. As Russell Coll ier (personal interview 1998) of S W A T observes: We ourselves haven't paid yet. Cashflow is really a bad problem with a lot of us. We push our bills back regularly. A n d we are almost always in our overdraft. So we tend to hold off on anything that isn't absolutely critical for functioning until later. [...] Even $150. For us, that's a whole role of paper, plotter paper. We have a choice: we get another role of plotter paper or do we get our membership. So, it is a problem. We don't have the $150 right now and we are one of the founding members. A mapper from another nation similarly states: "We're going to wait until we have a little more money [before we buy a membership]. We've got to start generating more" (Fowler interview Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 1 0 0 1998). A n d another: "It's not that we don't want to become a member, it is a question of the fee-for service" (Campbell, Hal l interviews 1998). In such a context, it is clear that the Network is going to have to actively sell its services and convince potential users that they are worthwhile. Increased exposure (through the methods discussed above) is important to generate or maintain interest in the Network. It is also important that users experience the benefits of the Network without becoming members. The "freebies" suggested by several mappers could introduce users to the services available and demonstrate their worth. A t present, non-members are blocked from participating on or even viewing the chat board: "one of the things I thought when I first looked at it was, [it is] a new service and they automatically want people to pay. [...] Unless people know what's in there, they're not going to pay to look around" (Blackbird interview 1998). Opening up the chat board for a limited period (one month, for example) to new users would have several important benefits. First of all , it would allow them to participate and experience, first-hand, the benefits of using an electronic chat board to share knowledge on mapping issues. Second, traffic on the chat board would increase significantly which would improve its effectiveness as a communications tool as more participants use it. A feedback effect would develop where free access to the chat board would increase its use and demonstrate its effectiveness, and therefore encourage users to become members. Introducing users to other services, such as F T P , would also serve to demonstrate their value. Once users become aware of the benefits Network membership can have for their mapping departments, they wi l l be more wil l ing to allocate funding in this direction: "I think that when we get to a point when we can begin to offer our services, I would like to see some sort of paid admission type membership that would help support the on-going efforts that we're developing right now" (Frank interview 1998). Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 101 External funding may also prove a viable alternative for maintaining the network. While initial interest from foundations was limited initially, the Network has benefited from a grant from the Wilburforce Foundation. A number of large foundations exist both in Canada and the United States who offer funding to projects focusing on aboriginal, environmental or mapping issues. Ecotrust Canada has the experience and knowledge to approach these foundations on behalf of the Network and has proven at least partly successful. One mapper feels First Nations lack both the time and the skills to solicit this form of funding: "what's lacking in most communities is people who can write proposals and people who can do the leg work to find the funding" (Vegh interview 1998). Another, however, suggests that the ability to find funding exists within the aboriginal mapping community: We ourselves here have been l iving kind of by our wits for a couple of years on our own now with no core funding whatsoever, still managing to keep four core people employed year round. So we have some idea of what it takes to stump around for your own paycheck (Collier interview 1998). Moreover, First Nations have an advantage that Ecotrust Canada does not: I think that we might get a quicker response than David [Carruthers] and Caron [Olive, of Ecotrust Canada] for all their good intentions might get. They might be seen as one more conservationist group looking for funding, and there's a lot of conservationist groups out there. But there aren't that many Aboriginal Mapping Networks out there geared so highly towards technical capacity building. There isn't anything else out there like that. So we think maybe something we could do, to travel around and talk to some of these funding groups. To talk to them about the idea and promote it, see what we can do with it (Collier interview 1998). It is possible that the Network can continue to support itself, at least in part, i f it continues to approach foundations for funding. There was initial frustration with this approach when the Vancouver Foundation backed out, perhaps hesitant to be the first organization to provide funding (Carruthers interview 1998). Now that another foundation has come forward with a grant, there may be less hesitation on the part of other foundations in the future. The point Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 102 raised about proposals coming from within the aboriginal community is a valid and important one. More attention may be paid to a proposal from First Nations mappers than one from Ecotrust Canada due to the uniqueness of the Network and its users. Ecotrust Canada could still lend its expertise in grant proposal writing to the mappers, but i f the foundations are petitioned from within the community, the proposal may have more impact. Such an approach speaks to the movement towards the intended independent character of the Network. It is intended that the Network be self-sufficient and self-managed in the future. The solicitation of funds (from within and outside the community) by the aboriginal mapping community itself is an important step in this direction: "we need to make our own money instead of waiting for handouts" (Logan interview 1998). This funding can come from membership fees from First Nations mappers. To effectively encourage users of the Network to become members, steps must be taken to demonstrate the value of the Network to aboriginal mappers. Foundations offer an alternative source of support. If the funding proposals come from within the community, a sense of independence is achieved that might otherwise be lost i f Ecotrust Canada is depended on to procure funds. It is also possible that the Network can look toward government for funding that is made available for aboriginal programs. The B . C . Treaty Cornmission, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs are all potential sources of support for the Network. These options are not mutually exclusive, but rather can function together. In fact, on-going support of the Network wi l l l ikely be dependent on funding from a variety of sources. Creativity is of great importance in meeting the funding needs of the Aboriginal Mapping Network. Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 103 R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S : • Creative ways of enticing mappers to become members of the Network could be explored. For example, offer free access to the 'members-only' components of the website to new users for a limited time. This action will demonstrate the worth of these components and increase traffic on the chat board. It is important that this trial offer is advertised to users through mailouts and other communications so that they know to take advantage of it. • Funding proposals from within the aboriginal mapping community could be encouraged. The uniqueness and proposed independence of the Network may have more appeal to Foundations than proposals from Ecotrust Canada, who might be seen as just another environmental NGO. • Explore funding possibilities from government sources (i.e; B.C. Treaty Commission, Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs). • Creative funding solutions could be developed that look both within (membership fees) and outside (grants from foundations and government) of the aboriginal mapping • • community for support. •:!;-:'" :K . - : •:'. •__ 5.4.6 Future Management As with funding, the management of the Aboriginal Mapping Network is under the control of Ecotrust Canada at present. The organization is central to Network promotion, website design and updating and conference organization. Again, the intention is that Ecotrust Canada will withdraw from this role within the next few years and control of the Network will be placed in the hands of Network users. The character of this management is a key question. Some form of committed administration is essential. Presently Ecotrust Canada cannot dedicate sufficient resources to maintaining the Network and developing it to its full capability, for they have other obligations and responsibilities. Consequently, the Network website has remained unchanged for extended periods which discourages repeated visits: "[T]here's nothing new on it. That's why I haven't been back" (Seymour interview 1998). Further, in order for the Network to develop linkages Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 104 between dispersed and preoccupied mappers, it needs an active management to explore ways to reach out to the community and exploit the potential of the website to its maximum. A n established and committed coordinator is one means to develop the Network's capability: "I feel this position is a must if this project is to be successful" (Campbell, Hal l interview 1998). The proposal by Ecotrust Canada to the Vancouver Foundation in 1997 asked for a grant that would in part pay for a coordinator, suggesting that such a role has been considered a vital component from the outset. This person would play a variety of important roles which would make the Network effective in its mandate of "networking the aboriginal mapping community": I think that we do need a coordinator and someone on it at least part-time to do the follow-through and the updating and the maintenance of the website. But just also to make it integrated more into First Nations communities. To have that coordinator put a face to that network to have one contact person who gets to know a lot of people and can do that sort of networking (Carruthers interview 1998). "[we need] kind of a coordinator who could chase after people and keep the website active" (Seymour interview 1998). It is suggested that there are benefits to having the coordinator hold the position for a given term: " i f we could rotate that coordinator position maybe once a year or something, to different communities, that would provide a valuable learning experience, I think" (Vegh interview 1998). The role of coordinator would be difficult to f i l l . A suitable candidate has to be knowledgeable about aboriginal mapping issues, skilled in website management, cognizant of the sensitivities of First Nations politics in B . C . and able to commit significant amounts of time to the Network: If you find someone who is competent enough, you know, that would be ideal. Someone who would be able to have a hand on everything, be able to delegate authority effectively, and be able to manage the whole operation from a point of view that allows a full perspective on it at all times (Frank interview 1998). Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 105 Although not all of the interviewees expressed this sentiment, both Ecotrust Canada and some mappers felt that the coordinator should be of aboriginal origin: "I think the person should be First Nations!" (Campbell, Hall interviews 1998). Having a First Nations coordinator speaks to ideas of empowerment and management from within the community, which are important elements in the development of the Aboriginal Mapping Network. An alternative management scenario is to have a panel of coordinators spread throughout the province: "You know, in reality, we might have to look at developing a team of leaders for this" (Frank interview 1998). A panel has its benefits. First, it builds on group synergy. A diversity of experiences, skills and backgrounds results in creativity. Powerful ideas derive from a group dynamic. Second, it forgoes the need to find a single coordinator who possess all of the necessary characteristics; instead, individuals with strengths in different areas can be brought onto the panel. Third, the Network will not have to come up with the salary for a single coordinator. Finally, a panel would require only a limited time commitment from each of its members since the management workload is shared, allowing participants to remain committed to their own mapping activities while still effectively managing the Network. I could see certainly a certain amount of remote management happening. If we knew we could get some funding for time to spend on this thing, maybe monthly or something, to get in and maintain and to contact and to promote, we could certainly play a part in that. And I don't see why some other members couldn't also take on some of those management roles. Well, too, we'd prefer to keep it decentralized I think, and with web stuff you can do that. It's pretty easy to get in and add and subtract things. These days, what's the difference between hauling up off a hard disk somewhere locally or hauling it up off a hard disk and booting it through the phone lines to upload and to download stuff (Collier interview 1998) There are clear benefits to a panel of coordinators, and web technology and communications technology make such an option feasible. Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 106 Either scenario - a single coordinator or a panel of coordinators - would benefit the Network. A solid management commitment is mandatory i f the Aboriginal Mapping Network is to reach its potential. The present context of management by Ecotrust Canada has been sufficient to get the Network up and running, and in fact may have been the only way to do so, but future development is dependent on a person or group of persons who can commit to promoting and running the Network. A new management situation wi l l also serve to better place control of the Network in the hands of the community who uses it, ultimately leading to empowerment on their own terms. R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S : • Possibly develop a new management system based on a coordinator or panel of coordinators who can keep the Aboriginal Mapping Network dynamic, effective and responsive to the needs of the First Nations mapping community. • Ecotrust Canada's present management role could be reduced. The organization can continue to play a role as a facilitator or participant on a coordinating panel. • Encourage First Nations participation in Network management. 5.4.7 Conference In March of 1999, the Aboriginal Mapping Network wi l l be hosting its first mini-conference in conjunction with the First Nations GIS conference and GIS '99 in Vancouver. The conference has long been considered an important component of the Aboriginal Mapping Network as a way to get First Nations mappers in direct contact with each other, to share ideas, to meet face to face: [T]he conference is going to be key because it brings people together in a relatively informal setting but even i f you had someone say you should contact these people over there, again it deals with a level of confidence and how comfortable they are with the software and hardware and everything else. So some people may do it and other people may not but i f you're to meet up face to face with somebody at a conference and you're in some sort of neutral setting, Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 107 and it's just a bunch of sort of teckie-er, mapping people getting together talking about those issues, then you might sort of free up the communication line. A n d once you get a face to a name it makes it a lot easier to call a person up and it makes it more informal (Olive interview 1998). The interviewed mappers are unanimously in support of a conference. There are several reasons why they feel this way. First of all, it is felt that there are issues unique to First Nations mapping in B . C . that a regional conference can address: Oh, I think [a conference] would be dynamite. We 've seen a couple of the Aboriginal GIS conferences piggybacked with the GIS '98 conferences and they've been fine. They have had some problems. We do think that a regional one [...] for the people in B . C . particularly - because there are all these treaty negotiations going on - would be especially useful. It needn't be restricted to B C people, it's just that there's a lot happening here; it's one of the fastest growing GIS use areas in Canada, maybe one of the fastest in North America. (Collier interview 1998). National conferences characteristically fail to address the concerns that are relevant to B . C . mappers, it is felt: Wel l one thing that I found when I was in Toronto when the people from Quebec and the people from the eastern part were starting to talk about GIS I soon lost interest because their surroundings and their environment are totally different than ours. I was listening to one person that lived in downtown somewhere, like that's where his reserve was, totally urbanized. A n d I just could not see any of the things that he was talking about that was relevant to me. L i k e he wasn't hitting the nail on the head for my interests anyways. [...] I wasn't going to go back i f it was in Toronto or somewhere else. A n d we were invited to San Diego or something, they were holding another one, and I didn't see that I needed to be there, you know what I mean? Because they have totally different issues and problems than I have to deal with (Seymour interview 1998). One mapper suggests, however, that aboriginal mappers face the same concerns everywhere: "I've been working with First Nations throughout the world and the issues are the same. Everywhere you go, the issues are the same, every community you go into, the issues are the same" (Vegh interview 1998) There is a universal experience, she argues, that is inherent to aboriginal mapping. Her justification for a conference relates more to accessibility for local First Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 108 Nations rather than emphasis on unique regional issues. Although individual mappers might differ on their feelings about the uniqueness of mapping in B . C . , there is agreement on the benefits of bringing a conference closer to home. Mappers often have multiple responsibilities, and time and monetary resources are often in short supply. In the past, aboriginal mapping conferences have been held in Vancouver or Toronto. Getting to these conferences (particularly those in central Canada) has been an insurmountable obstacle: One of the big things is trying to get the time because, I don't know i f you're familiar with how First Nations offices run, but a lot of people in the office w i l l be involved in numerous projects that they're involved in. L ike personally where I am in here, I 'm looking into the GIS, the fisheries, the forestry, recreation, parks, archaeology, to name some of them (Blackbird interview 1998). W e l l , I would come [to a conference], especially i f it was local (Rhodes interview 1998). Mappers, it is apparent, are far more likely to attend a conference i f it is within their region or at least their province due to the reduced expense in time and money. Newcomers to mapping, too, are more likely to attend for the lower cost is easier to justify and the intimidation factor of a formal, national conference less. Finally, there is an awareness of the value that such a conference would have for creating linkages between mappers and facilitating the flow of information. A conference provides a unique opportunity for bringing users of different experience levels together, to interact and build on each other's knowledge: I think that i f we kept to the design of introducing new members as well as supporting intermediate to advanced members, I think that it could be a very well-rounded conference. One that wi l l allow for interaction between those who know and those who would like to know (Frank interview 1998). Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 109 Just as the Network website can serve as the medium for interaction between mappers, so too can the conference. The conference allows face to face interaction and the opportunity for participants to present ideas and share experiences. The website serves to perpetuate this communication in the absence of direct contact, to provide a means to maintain the momentum of the conference that may otherwise have been lost. There is a clear and valuable relationship between the Aboriginal Mapping Network website and an annual conference for First Nations mappers in B . C . R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S : • Continue to hold an Aboriginal Mapping Network conference every year to address issues relevant to mappers in B.C. and to provide an accessible conference. • Encourage participation of new or potential users of GIS so that they may benefit from the existing knowledge base. • Continue to develop themes expressed in the conferences on the Network website. • The conference could be rotated around the province to increase accessibility. • Explore the possibility of co-hosting the conference with First Nations within their traditional territories. • Explore the potential of running the conference together with another related conference (for example, the Sto:Io conference on natural resource management). 5.5 The Meeting of Goals and Objectives This chapter and chapter four provide a naturalistic formative evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network. Using qualitative methods (specifically key informant interviews), the context of, the justification for, and the character of the Network have been described. Further, the First Nations mapping community's response to the operational components of the Network have been described. The Network is a unique creation, and developers and users consider its form only nascent or 'a work in progress': "It's going to take Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 110 some work. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easily (Collier interview 1998). The evaluation offered is thus formative in that it only provides some affirmation of the Network's worth and some recommendations regarding future development. The program is not complete at this time. It is not possible to say whether or not it has realized its objectives or reached its goals, and it would be wrong to attempt to do so. It is possible, however, to contemplate whether there has been movement towards program goals. The explicit goal of the Aboriginal Mapping Network is to "network the aboriginal mapping community." At this point, it would be difficult to suggest that it has mitigated the isolation that exists between First Nations mappers in B . C . The usage of the website as indicated by the number of 'hits' is increasing, but levels are still low. The chat board is largely unused, and while the on-line information is being explored, the site is not serving as a hub for the development of linkages between First Nations. The internet, however, is still an ideal medium through which communication and knowledge sharing can occur, for it overcomes the friction of distance and the burden of expense that face to face communication mandates. The recommendations noted in this chapter can help the Network better serve its community. Importantly, its value has to continue to be advertised though mailouts and via the internet. Its worth has to be demonstrated through the encouragement of active participation by members and non-members alike through improvements like free access to the chat board for a limited period. If Network management is placed in the hands of the mappers themselves and is dedicated, it wi l l become dynamic and reflective of the wants of First Nations mappers. The Network has significant potential to help create a unified community among aboriginal GIS users. It has clearly not reached its short term objectives of encouraging and facilitating a dialogue between groups who share common experiences; improving access to Evaluation of the Aboriginal Mapping Network 111 data, training, technology and funding; encouraging data standardization and reducing duplication (Ecotrust Canada 1997). Nor has it achieved its long terms goals of improving First Nation involvement in decision making processes; supporting the planning of local resources by First Nations through access to related information and technology; and supporting First Nations in managing information for self-governance. But it has made movement in that direction. The Network is less than a year old and it was not expected to achieve its goals and objectives immediately. Rather, as Russell Collier (interview 1998) suggests above, the Network wi l l undergo a developmental process similar to making a map, where layer upon layer is added before a comprehensive and effective image emerges. This evaluation provides suggestions as to how the Network can further move towards creating a community of mappers whose shared knowledge and experience wi l l build capacity in GIS mapping for First Nations. These skills w i l l in turn bring knowledge into planning and governance processes in the form of maps that embody local beliefs, cultures and perceptions of landscape. H Z Chapter 6: The Network and the Democratization of Mapping Maps, it has been argued in this thesis, are not passive, objective documents. Rather, they are subjectively defined models of reality that embody particular interpretations of the world. The interpreters are almost exclusively government, industry and the military, and the maps that are produced are inherently selective in what they portray. What is on a map is legitimized and validated while what is omitted is rendered inconsequential: "What is not on the map...isn't real" (Wood 1992, 87). Our acceptance of such ' ly ing ' maps is made possible by the implicit power of maps to appear as objective and incontestable depictions of the truth: "maps must appear simply to exhibit the landscape" (Turnbull 1993, 8). The arbitrary nature of maps is obscured by a culturally defined and accepted code, or set of conventions, that is articulated on maps. Critical analysis of maps, however, deconstructs this code and reveals their subjective character. It soon becomes obvious by noting what is portrayed - and more importantly what is absent - that conventional maps convey a particular model of reality. They are social constructions that articulate complex yet evident agendas. From a First Nations standpoint, conventional maps do not represent aboriginal interests, priorities or worldviews. Rather, they are, as John Forester (1989, 28) would suggest, "a complex source of power" that articulate the interests of the status quo. Forester's arguments complement the theory that problematizes conventional mapping. Maps are key embodiments of knowledge which are very effective inputs in the planning processes, particular in consideration of the spatial character of First Nations land claims and resource management planning in B . C . Conventional maps can be considered to be a form of misinformation, for they lay claim to a certain truthfulness at the expense of alternative truths, or visions of reality. This misinformation The Network and the Democratization of Mapping 113 is pervasive and ubiquitous - it is systemic - but it can be counterbalanced by the production of alternative information (Forester 1989, 41). In the present case, i f First Nations can produce their own maps, they can challenge the apparent incontestability of conventional maps. While their maps cannot claim to be more truthful representations of reality, they can provide an alternative to mainstream maps and they can bring First Nations perceptions of the world into the planning process. 6.1 Capacity Building in GIS Through the Aboriginal Mapping Network First Nations are mapping at an unprecedented rate due to the demands of the treaty process and resource management. Geographic information systems are being used to map because they are an effective means of consolidating large amounts of data over a common spatial framework. They are uniquely powerful map-making tools whose analysis capabilities can meet the planning needs of First Nations in B . C . : "I think that we are pretty much stuck with GIS" (Logan interview 1998). Right now, First Nations are developing their GIS capabilities in isolation. There is very limited communication between mappers and consequently little sharing of knowledge. What technical or methodological problems one nation may have resolved, another may have to resolve on its own, "reinventing the wheel" (Vegh interview 1998). GIS is a very complicated and expensive technology and the failure to share knowledge leads to a great wasting of human and capital resources in a context where these resources are already limited. Further, these characteristics of GIS not only compromise the ability of existing users to work efficiently, they also serve to discourage or intimidate potential users who could benefit greatly from the ability to map on their own terms: The Network and the Democratization of Mapping 114 GIS is a very new tool. A lot people haven't even heard of it. They don't understand the technology. What we're finding out now, after a year of this, is that their education levels are all different. Somebody with a very low level of education doesn't even want to open up that can of worms. They don't even want to deal with the idea (Seymour interview 1998). They're a little scared of what they don't know (Logan interview 1998). New users are intimidated by the technology and established users face difficulties with funding, data acquisition, training and more. Adopting and running a GIS department, for all the benefits it offers, is a struggle. GIS may be an appropriate means for First Nations to produce their own maps, but effective implementation requires creative solutions. The Aboriginal Mapping Network can build capacity in GIS mapping, leading to the creation of wnconventional, alternative maps, therefore bringing new knowledge into planning and empowering First Nations on their own terms. This can be done through the development of knowledge linkages between First Nations mappers in the province. The Network attempts to realize its goal of 'networking the aboriginal mapping community in a variety of ways. It seeks to bring mappers together through their use of its website and participation in conferences specifically focussing on First Nations mapping in B . C . It is believed that i f the mappers can communicate more readily and i f knowledge sharing is facilitated, capacity building in GIS wi l l follow. It was not the original intention of the Network's developers to develop a website, but the internet has its distinct advantages. A s discussed earlier, the website creates a common, universally accessible space where First Nations can come together to read case studies, learn about what other mappers are doing and communicate using novel chat board technologies and user lists. Aboriginal mappers are dispersed throughout the province but the internet "closes the distance gap between people" (Vegh interview 1998). The website is a fortuitous consequence The Network and the Democratization of Mapping 115 of funding shortfalls on the part of Ecotrust Canada, for it creates the unique forum for the sharing and developing of ideas. Not only wi l l it provide a resource for ski l l development, it can serve to create a communicative and active community over distances that would otherwise be insurmountable. Conferences, too, are a valuable means of community-building. They provide an opportunity for mappers to meet face to face and present work or discuss problems they encounter as aboriginal mappers in B . C . They offer direct contact that is not possible through the website, but at a more reasonable distance and cost than the national First Nations GIS conferences. In the last chapter, it was argued that the Aboriginal Mapping Network is a fair distance from reaching its goals and realizing its objectives. Evidence shows that only limited attention is being paid to the Network by mappers at this point for in many cases they have yet to learn the benefits such an entity could offer. The Network has to undergo changes to attract users (such as offering free access to "members only" portions of the site for a limited time), as suggested in the program evaluation. This fact is understood by those who participated in its development. This development is part of an organic process wherein mapping community input and participation wi l l play an increasingly greater role, eventually leading to user control. Ecotrust Canada has used its skills and resources to help create the Network, but it is assumed that they wi l l withdraw from the management role in the future (Ecotrust Canada 1997). The means the Network uses to disseminate GIS skills are effective in building capacity in mapping and consequently facilitating the bringing of new knowledge into planning processes. The democratization of mapping that is a function of First Nations' abilities to produce their own maps can counter existing information, or 'misinformation,' that is embodied in conventional The Network and the Democratization of Mapping lit maps. They can thus articulate their own agendas in planning processes and in discourse with government and industry. Using the internet-based webpage and conferences, the Network gives exposure to First Nations mapping work. B y doing so, aboriginal mappers are shown the reality of map-making using GIS technology. B y reading case studies and stories, and by hearing presentations, they can develop realistic expectations and anticipate difficulties: " i f you're going to go on and start getting into this and managing the resources properly, [you're] going to have to know what's there" (Blackbird interview 1998). Exposure to the experiences of First Nations people working in similar conditions can demonstrate the potential of GIS in a very real way. It can demonstrate the workable reality of this mapping technology: So, it's not hard. GIS is not hard to learn. It does take time and it does take a certain kind of a head to get into it. A certain willingness to sacrifice your kidneys to the cause by sitting for long periods of time. But it's not hard to do. We realize that it's made up of proficiency in using this stuff. Depends on doing a lot of repetition, tackling real-world problems, the issues that we have to face. [The Network can] help us acquire the skills as a group. Or to help each other spread the skills around for how do you do stuff, to shorten the learning curve (Collier interview 1998). The Network wi l l serve to facilitate the development of mapping skills at a local level, and therefore reduce dependence on external consultants. First Nations have to have maps for planning and negotiations, regardless of whether or not they have the ability to produce maps themselves. They often are forced to turn to consultants to do the work. There is little documentation of the degree to which First Nations communities turn to outside technical expertise, but it is felt to be significant: "I think that you see a lot of contracting out. Even with First Nations who have GIS capabilities there is still a lot of contracting for data and analysis" (Carruthers interview 1998). The hiring of consultants for mapping projects is problematic in The Network and the Democratization of Mapping 111 several ways 1 2 . They are generally expensive, costing hundreds of dollars a day and draining the already limited resources within First Nations communities. Also , they lack the sensitivities and local knowledge community-based mappers can offer; they simply have no inherent knowledge of the territory they are mapping. Perhaps the most important implication of hiring consultants is the lack of capacity building that occurs. Mapping skills are seldom transmitted to the client community. Rather, the consultant simply produces a report at the end of a contract. There has been a practice in the past and it's still fairly prevalent today of First Nations groups hiring parachute consultants. It's a trend that not very many First Nations groups like because it means that you get a report at the end of a couple of weeks' trip by a parachute consultant who may be very well trained and may be well intentioned, but just doesn't know the area and doesn't have the local connection that is so important to understanding what is really here. A n d nobody understands the report anyhow when they leave (Collier interview 1998). Consultants are an established component of First Nations mapping, yet it is clearly more beneficial to have communities that can map for themselves. The Aboriginal Mapping Network wi l l help communities move towards this end. The development of linkages between mappers and exposure to each other's work can convey the reality and potential of GIS mapping, and suggest the benefits of local control over the map-making process: "so our whole approach for this thing is to try to get something together where people can start to derive our own answers and to share how we do it, and to build our own capacities" (Collier interview 1998). The network can increase independence for First Nations mappers and facilitate mapping on their own terms, leading further to the democratization of map production. It wi l l take time for the Network to develop these communications linkages between its mappers. This process wi l l be gradual and accretionary, and the form of the Network wi l l emerge as it is learned what the needs of the mapping community are and what they wi l l find 1 2 Some consultants, however, are hired for training purposes rather than on a project basis. These can impart skills to a community so that they can do their own mapping, rather than simply doing the projects for them. The Network and the Democratization of Mapping 118 most beneficial: "once this system is up and running, and we are able to connect with one another, this goal [of empowering local communities] is reachable. As with anything to do with GIS, it wi l l be by 'trial and error'" (Campbell, Hal l interviews 1998). A s suggested above, the Network is nascent, in that its development is just beginning. The evaluation done as a component of this thesis is a formative evaluation which by definition is an evaluation that serves to guide a program's future course of action and to help it realize its goals and objectives. The Network itself is in a formative stage of its development. A s usage and membership increase, and Network control is placed in the hands of its users, it can become an increasingly effective tool for building capacity in First Nations GIS mapping due to the unique role it w i l l play. Knowledge sharing between aboriginal mappers wi l l lead to effective and efficient map production, and the consequent democratization of mapping: "sharing of ideas, tips and other information related to GIS among First Nations user groups are important to reaching our shared objectives as a people" (Campbell, Ha l l interview 1998). 6.2 What Does Democratized Mapping Mean? Through the Aboriginal Mapping Network, aboriginal mappers in B . C . w i l l develop and improve their map-making skills. They wi l l then be able to produce maps that embody knowledge they believe defines the world around them. Local worldviews and perceptions of their environment - how it is and how it might be - are articulated in map form. How can such documents or cultural artifacts be used? Chapter 2 described the applications and impacts of community-based mapping in other contexts. Bioregional maps and parish maps have served to reconnect people to place; to understand the ecology that surrounds them, to reveal relationships over space, and to encourage activism for preservation or change. Mapping by First Nations for themselves has a similar power. The Network and the Democratization of Mapping 119 Aboriginal mapping consolidates diverse data over a common spatial framework. These data represent the knowledge base of a community or nation regarding the past, present and future of the landscape around them. This knowledge, however, rarely exists as a cohesive whole; rather, it is dispersed in the consciousness of the population. It most certainly does not exist on conventional maps. The process of bringing together this knowledge is itself an invaluable one for it provides a community or nation with a sense of common purpose and strengthens feelings of cohesiveness and shared experience. A map is a powerful medium for embodying this information, for it conveys knowledge within a framework that speaks to western society in a language it understands. Wood (1992) and Turnbull (1993) argue that the planimetric map form is inherently indexical, in that, despite the fact that this form seems universally interpretable, it is actually only understood using the cognitive tools, or conventions, existing within our Western culture. First Nations mappers, empowered in the use of GIS mapping technology, are able to work within the language of maps and produce their own documents that adopt western cartographic conventions while communicating unconventional knowledge. Maps implicitly define what is 'real,' through the process of inclusion and exclusion, thereby naturalizing the perceptions of their creators (Wood 1992). The power of maps - specifically their incontestable or objective nature - discourages the critical analysis of maps, and map users generally accept, uncritically, what is presented there. Aboriginal mappers, when skilled in mapping technologies, can challenge the objectiveness of conventional maps. They wi l l produce maps with much of the same unspoken power of those made by government and industry, but they wi l l articulate different knowledge. These maps wi l l be used in land claims negotiations and dialogues with industry and government. They wi l l also be used within communities, to describe local priorities and beliefs The Network and the Democratization of Mapping 120 about relationships with the land. Maps are thus key components in the First Nations planning process. Democratized map-making allows for the inclusion of knowledge that is articulated in a powerful form, well-understood by broader society. »2| Chapter 7: Conclusion John Forester (1989) speaks of the power of information, and of 'misinformation' entering into the planning process and perpetuating the interests of powerful actors. The ability of First Nations to map for themselves facilitates the incorporation of new information into planning that can challenge what information exists on its own terms. Specifically, aboriginal mappers can use conventional maps, characterized as they are by an implicit strength-through-objectivity, as a means to move towards a future in which their cultural, economic and ecological interests and beliefs are well represented. Indigenous people have been producing and using maps - both cognitive and material -for centuries. What has changed, however, is the nature of use of their maps. Maps are now an explicit component of aboriginal political life in British Columbia. The resolution of land claims is dependent on the ability of First Nations to produce maps of their traditional territories - a complex process that involves the consolidation of vast amounts of landscape knowledge into map form. Likewise, as First Nations move into governance of their traditional territories, maps are used to develop visions of natural resource management that are predicated on local values and beliefs. Maps are articulations of aboriginal knowledge that have a fundamental place in contemporary First Nations political and cultural action. Conventional maps, it can be argued, substantiate the status quo and consequently alienate alternative worldviews. Such maps, authors like Monmonier (1991), Wood (1992) and Turnbull (1993) argue, legitimize the perceptions and convictions of their creators, who are generally dominant groups in society. They are cultural artifacts that make real what is portrayed on them at the expense of what is excluded. These maps are powerful documents that are Conclusion 122 implicitly accepted by society as truthful representations of reality, but in fact they are simply models, and the necessity of selecting what is included is a subjective action. " A n accurate map must tell white lies," Monmonier (1991) suggests, meaning that its creators selectively define what constitutes the landscape according to their beliefs and interests. The power of maps lies in their ability to conceal the fact that any subjectivity played a role in their creation: "[Maps] must be transmitted in a code that by Western standards appears neutral, objective and impersonal, unadorned by stylistic device and unmediated by the arbitrary interests of individuals or social groups" (Turnbull 1993, 8). Conventional maps, then, are considered incontestable representations of reality by our society. The ability of First Nations to map for themselves, however, presents an important challenge, for they can produce alternative yet equally powerful maps that confront conventional maps. They in essence use the same language as government and industry to make maps that have the same cognitive impact but articulate a different worldview. First Nations maps start with a standard foundation: the planimetric topographic map. Consequently, they are readily comprehended and recognized by greater society who is familiar with such conventions. Onto this base, however, aboriginal mappers apply knowledge rarely seen on conventional maps. Hunting and harvesting grounds, areas of spiritual importance, vegetation zones, trails, traditional and contemporary political boundaries, and much more, are portrayed on their maps. Novel means of reconciling traditional knowledge and oral histories with spatial database 13 technologies have been created so that this knowledge can find a place on their maps. With such maps in hand, First Nations can challenge the perceived objectivity of mainstream maps on 1 3 See for example the Council for Yukon Indians' use of digital elevation models for visualization purposes with elders (Duerden and Johnson 1993). Conclusion 123 their own terms. They can produce maps for planning and negotiations that are equally powerful but articulate different perceptions of reality. The Aboriginal Mapping Network can play an important role in this democratization of mapping. First Nations mapping is characterized by isolation between mappers scattered throughout the province. There is a consequent failure to capitalize on a common knowledge base regarding mapping. What results is a wasting of human and capital resources as individual nations develop their mapping capabilities by trial and error, replicating mistakes already made elsewhere and finding solutions for problems already solved. Ecotrust Canada and several First Nations, aware of such inefficiencies through firsthand experience, have decided to work with other aboriginal mappers to create a more cohesive mapping community. To achieve this objective, they seek to create communications linkages though the use of the world wide web and through the hosting of conferences. The Aboriginal Mapping Network presently exists as a universally accessible website and as a conference for First Nations mappers that w i l l be hosted in March 1999. The three objectives which guide and inform this thesis focus directly on the Aboriginal Mapping Network and the implications its development has on the First Nations mapping community. The first objective is to undertake a program evaluation of the Network to assess its utility to First Nations mappers and to offer suggestions as to how the Network can improve its service. Using an established naturalistic formative program evaluation methodology this objective was met. The context for the Network's development was described through the analysis of interviews with its developers and by research into the aboriginal mapping experience. K e y informant interviews with mappers themselves confirmed the perceptions of the developers and provided information about their use and expectations of the Network website Conclusion 124 and conferences. From these interviews, recommendations were generated regarding how the Network could better serve the aboriginal mapping community. The second objective is closely connected to the evaluation. This objective is to build capacity in GIS mapping for First Nations and therefore facilitate their ability to bring local knowledge into planning processes. Recommendations generated in the course of realizing the first objective - the evaluation - can facilitate the development of GIS mapping skills. These recommendations include suggestions on how to improve the utility of the website and conferences, and address issues of network management and funding. The Network provides a unique opportunity to build capacity in GIS through the creation of communications linkages and the sharing of knowledge. The recommendations can improve the ability of the Network to reach its goals as they derive from interviews with First Nations mappers, its users, who have perceptions about how the Network can best meet their needs. The recommendations generated from this input, when implemented, can move a fair way in attracting users to the Network and convincing them of its worth. Importantly, they are realistic. The Aboriginal Mapping Network works in a context of limited resources. The suggestions offered are sensitive to this fact. They mandate no dramatic structural or operational reorganization of the Network, but simply modify what exists. It is felt that certain small changes - for example, allowing limited free access to the site for new users - w i l l prove effective in encouraging participation. The Network already has important strengths, notably the use of the internet to reach out to a geographically-dispersed mapping community. The evaluation provides a means for its developers to build on what work has already been done. As management of the Network moves more into the hands of the mapping community (a scenario advocated in the evaluation), it wi l l become even more reflective of their needs and interests. Conclusion 125 The third and final thesis objective is to use the Aboriginal Mapping Network as a case study in the democratization of mapping. It is suggested that while conventional maps (produced by government and industry) articulate certain worldviews and are an inherently powerful means to do so, First Nations have the ability to challenge such information through the production of their own maps. The Aboriginal Mapping Network's objective of building capacity in map production has clear implications for the incorporation of new knowledge into planning and political negotiations in this province. B y facilitating communication between First Nations mappers, the Network wi l l improve mapping capabilities by increasing access to an existing knowledge base. Presently, this knowledge is largely isolated and inaccessible due to the dispersal of aboriginal mappers throughout B . C . B y using the world wide web and encouraging direct contact at conferences, the Network wi l l create bridges across which mapping knowledge can flow. What follows wi l l be a consequent democratization of map production. Conventional maps, which critical theory suggests are embodiments of particular visions of reality, can be challenged on equal footing by First Nations maps. Mapping plays an important role in First Nations planning and governance. It serves to consolidate and articulate local perceptions of the environment. Drawing on oral histories, archival evidence, legal documents, historical records, direct observation, scientific analyses and patterns of contemporary and historical land use, aboriginal maps are expressions of particular worldviews, beliefs and values. These maps provide a vehicle through which this knowledge of place can be used " in the guiding of future action" (Forester 1989, 3). They facilitate planning that is reflective of a local meanings and an understanding of place. Geographic information systems, the predominant tools used for the production of maps, are a complex and expensive Conclusion 126 technology. The Aboriginal Mapping Network allows First Nations mappers to benefit as a community through the sharing of their individual experiences with GIS. This objective is achieved by developing communication linkages across which knowledge can flow. The outcome is that First Nations wi l l empower themselves through their heightened ability to bring local knowledge into the planning process, helping them move towards a future that is an expression of their interests. Consolidated Recommendations • The Aboriginal Mapping Network could disseminate information on the availability of internet related funding from government sources. A n y future mailout to First Nations concerning the Network could include some basic description of the funding available and how to acquire it. • Network users could be encouraged to submit stories documenting their experiences with GIS technology, data collection, methods, and analysis and use them as frequently rotated spotlights. Alternatively, a network coordinator or intern could research and write experiential stories in partnership with the mappers. The S W A T and Tsleil-Waututh spotlights are good existing examples of such experiential stories. • Existing spotlights could be archived on-line where they can be accessed. • A l l users of the site could be encouraged to submit a brief summary of their current mapping work. The summaries could include a brief description of the kind of mapping done (e.g. Traditional Use Study, wildlife habitat modeling), the size and form of their department, the software used and contact information. This information could be submitted using an on-line form. Such data does not exist and would be very valuable in conveying a picture of First Nations mapping in B . C . Additionally, it would provide a stimulus for communication between mappers sharing similar experiences. • The chat board could be divided into logical forums which reflect the interests of First Nations mappers. Forums could be defined on technological, methodological and practical terms. • A l low for limited access to the chat board by non-members. Static screen-shots, observation without participation or participation for a limited time using a temporary password are all feasible solutions. • Maintain the existing F T P (file transfer protocol) component of the Network website. Conclusion 127 Provide a description of what its capabilities are, on-line instructions for its use and links to sites where F T P software can be downloaded (eg. http://mirror.direct.ca/tucows/ftp95.html). The links page could be further developed. This section should be updated and maintained frequently; encourage users to submit sites they have found, perhaps using an on-line form, and have an administrator or intern search for new sites on the web and check status of existing ones. Update the funding page when possible with a diversity of information. Subjects need not be limited exclusively to mapping, but also to other activities that support the functioning of a mapping department (for example, information on funding for internet capacity upgrading). Once again, encourage participation from Network users. Create a component of the site that focuses on programs that increase efficiencies. This area can provide scripts, macros, or programs that are not GIS-specific and that benefit a mapping department more generally (e.g., publishing software, word processing macros). mailouts could be used to inform First Nations GIS users about the Network. Include hardcopy printouts of pages from the site, information about recent additions and information about developing or improving internet access. E-mail could be further developed as a communications tool. Ask users of the site to register their e-mail address on-line and create a database that can be used for future communications. Publicize the Network by establishing links on aboriginal, educational and GIS industry websites. Continue to use annual First Nations GIS conferences as a means to disseminate information on the Aboriginal Mapping Network through presentations, discussions, displays and literature. Creative ways of enticing mappers to become members of the Network could be explored. For example, offer free access to the 'members-only' components of the website to new users for a limited time. This action wi l l demonstrate the worth of these components and increase traffic on the chat board. It is important that this trial offer is advertised to users through mailouts and other communications so that they know to take advantage of it. Funding proposals from within the aboriginal mapping community could be encouraged. The uniqueness and proposed independence of the Network may have more appeal to Foundations than proposals from Ecotrust Canada, who might be seen as just another environmental N G O . Explore funding possibilities from government sources (i.e. B . C . Treaty Commission, Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs). Conclusion 128 Creative funding solutions could be developed that look both within (membership fees) and outside (grants from foundations and government) of the aboriginal mapping community for support. Possibly develop a new management system based on a coordinator or panel of coordinators who can keep the Aboriginal Mapping Network dynamic, effective and responsive to the needs of the First Nations mapping community. Ecotrust Canada's present management role could be reduced. The organization can continue to play a role as a facilitator or participant on a coordinating panel. Encourage First Nations participation in Network management. Continue to hold an Aboriginal Mapping Network conference every year to address issues relevant to mappers in B.C. and to provide an accessible conference. Encourage participation of new or potential users of GIS so that they may benefit from the existing knowledge base. Continue to develop themes expressed in the conferences on the Network website. 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Can you define the context that inspired the need for such a network? • What problems and difficulties was the First Nations mapping community experiencing? • D i d you follow an existing model (i.e. are there similar networks out there) or is the A M N unique, to your knowledge? • Can you describe the planning process that defined the character of the Network? • Was it the vision of one or two people, or of a larger group? 2. H i s t o r y • Can you tell me about the evolution of Network - history from inception to launch? • What difficulties did you encounter (funding, etc)? • How did these difficulties impact on the final product? • How do you envision the future management of the Network? • How wi l l it support itself? • How do you see the Network in one year? In five? 3. Goa l s a n d Object ives • What are the goals and objectives of the Aboriginal Mapping Network? • Who defined these? • How wi l l the Network, as it exists now, help realize these goals and objectives? • What could inhibit the realization of these goals? • What are the strengths of the Network? • What are its weaknesses? • Can you note any unanticipated outcomes resulting from the creation of the Network (pos/neg)? 4. A p p r o p r i a t e Techno logy , G I S a n d F i r s t Nat ions • Do you feel that the Internet, with its technological requirements is the best forum for the Network? • What alternatives were possible, i f any? • How do you feel about the appropriateness of GIS as a planning tool for First Nations? • Are there viable alternatives? • Could you say that the Network assists in democratizing GIS practice, i.e. does it help make GIS an appropriate technology for First Nations spatial planning exercises? Appendix I 135 • In what ways (i.e. it facilitates the sharing of methodologies, creates access to data, etc)? Do First Nations groups generally operate GIS systems themselves or do they hire outside consultants? Appendix II 136 Appendix II -Interview Questions for First Nations Mappers 1. The State of Your GIS Department • How long have you been working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS)? • What do you use GIS for? (e.g. land claims mapping, resource management, Traditional Use Studies, etc.) • Does your group create the data you use, or do you acquire it externally? • Do you depend on local skills or do you hire external consultants for GIS work? • If your GIS department is staffed locally, where did you get your training, and how long did it take? • What hardware and software do you use? 2. Needs and Problems • First, I would like to know, on a general level, what difficulties have you had running a GIS department? • More specifically, what problems have you had with: • Data gathering and creation? • Techniques of GIS analysis? (e.g. how do you actually use a GIS for a traditional use study?) • The technology (hardware and software)? • Funding? • Do you think that there are alternatives to GIS use, or are you pretty well forced to used the technology due to the demands of treaty and R M ? 3. Use of the Aboriginal Mapping Network Are you Familiar with the Aboriginal Mapping Network? • How did you find out about it? • Do you feel that the Network plays an important and much needed role? • W i l l the Aboriginal Mapping Network help democratize GIS use? • W i l l it help to empower local communities and local decision-making? • Can you explain why First Nations mappers need an entity like the A M N ? • Do you think that the network wi l l help to build a First Nations mapping community? • How often do you access the website? • What sections of the website do you visit most frequently? • What sections are most useful to you? • What sections are of little use? • Do you note any major omissions? • Do you see yourself using the website in the future? • Can you see yourself becoming a member? • If yes, what services attract you (chat board, F T P , etc)? • If no, why not (expense, unnecessary)? Appendix II 137 Ecotrust Canada is presently managing the Network using its own resources, but intends to move away from this role. H o w would you like to see the Network managed in the future? • How do you feel about having a network coordiator? • How should the Network obtain funding (subscriptions, grants)? Are you interested in the idea of a conference specifically for First Nations mappers in B C (possibly held in Ahousaht)? Perhaps the greatest problem facing the network is exposure. Is there any way you might think of overcoming this? Many people I've talked say that they are too busy to look at the webpage. H o w can we overcome this problem? Appendix III 138 Appendix III - Interview Subjects Name Affiliation Date Interviewed Blackbird, Tom. Katzie First Nation. August 26, 1998. Campbell, Les. Heiltsuk First Nation. August 19, 1998. Carruthers, David. Ecotrust Canada. July 22, 1998. Collier, Russell. Gitxsan S W A T . August 14, 1998 Fowler, Laura. Sto:lo First Nation. August 12, 1998 Frank, Roman. Ahousaht First Nation. July 22, 1998 Hal l , Caroline. Heiltsuk First Nation. August 19, 1998 Logan, Ed . Kwakiutl First Nation. August 27, 1998 Olive, Caron. Ecotrust Canada. July 22, 1998. Rhodes, Leeanna. Sto:lo First Nation. August 12, 1998. Sawicki, Ozzie POZit ive Results Graphics September 30, 1998. Seymour, Deryl Lynn. Lheidli Tenneh First Nation. August 20, 1998. Vegh, Darlene. Gitxsan S W A T . August 27, 1998 

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