Native American Cybernetics: Indigenous Knowledge Resources in Information Technology
 by  Ron Eglash

The term “indigenous knowledge” usually refers to the understanding of natural processes, such as ethnobotany or ethnomedicine. Yet Native American knowledge systems include many aspects of contemporary information technologies, and native communities have become increasingly adept in appropriating computing and communication devices for their own use. I refer to this complex of indigenous and appropriated information technologies as Native American Cybernetics. The term “cybernetics” was coined by mathematician Norbert Wiener to describe his vision for a unified science of control, communication, and computation in both natural and artificial systems. Cybernetics is particularly appropriate for Native American technological practices, in which the flow of information across mental and material, natural and human, and mundane and spiritual domains have been so important.

Software (web-based applets):

The Virtual Bead Loom

SimShoBan (simulation of Shoshoni social ecology)

Yupik Star Navigator

SimShoBan wins AAA Education Award (paper)      
Computation, Complexity and Coding in Native American Knowledge Systems (paper) Ukranian translation Belarussian translation Estonian translation

 Related web sites

The Iroquois Confederacy as a model for the US constitution: symbolism of the arrows

Navajo code talkers

The American Indian Computer Art Project


Native Seeds/SEARCH


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