Seminar SeriesAugust 10 2023

Indigenous Approaches to Technology & Trust

Tiara Roxanne
Trustworthy Infrastructures

Technological infrastructures carry colonial turbulence. This turbulence — as seen in data mining extraction, predictive policing, and overall mass surveillance — points to the need for spaces where Indigenous people can assert their voice, experience, and knowledge to develop communal consensus that can shape data-driven technologies with more balance and care.

How do Indigenous people negotiate contemporary digital life, and what culturally specific approaches are available to build trust and safety online?

In a series of seminars curated by Tiara Roxanne, postdoctoral fellow for Trustworthy Infrastructures, we explored Indigenous approaches to technology as points of departure for unpacking trust. Sessions were by invitation only to encourage a sense of privacy and included Indigenous scholars, artists, and elders in conversation with members of our network.


Text by Tiara Roxanne

Translated by Julian Dupont

Four Directions

Groundwork: What is Indigeneity?

Dr. Gabriela Spears-Rico

October 11, 2022 

As Indigenous studies continues to grow and broaden into different disciplines, it was important to establish a working framework for the series. This first seminar was focused on how to situate the concept of Indigeneity. Dr. Gabriela Spears-Rico walked us through her investigations of the historical, symbolic, and material emergence of P’urhepecha Indigeneity online, and we discussed her article “In a Time of War and Hashtags: Rehumanizing Indigeneity in the Digital Landscape,” thinking together about the hashtag as a place of resistance and sovereignty for Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Cosmology and Storytelling: Methods and Praxis for Thinking

Alex Jacobs-Blum and Yuma Dean Hester

February 7, 2023

The second seminar was built on Indigenous cosmologies as modes for investigation, exploration, and community, supporting themes of resistance and sovereignty from the previous seminar. Alex Jacobs Blum and Yuma Dean Hester guided the conversation by sharing their practices as creators and artists. We watched the short film Six Strings, by Bawaadan Collective, which is mostly in Mohawk language (minus one caption), emphasizing the ongoing creative practice of language revitalization in collaboration with artists and local knowledge keepers.

Decolonization is Not Possible and the Decolonial Gesture

Emmanuel Rozenthal and Vilma Almendra

April 11, 2023

Scaffolding the first two seminars, Vilma Alexandra and Emmanuel Rozenthal centered this conversation on decolonization, power, and territory. “We will only be free when women are free, which is tied to the liberation of Mother Earth,” said Rozenthal, who led us in thinking about the colonized body —in terms of territory (land), the corporeal (the human body), and the matriarchal, emphasizing that colonization is relational andaffectual, with far-reaching reverberations.

Sacredity as a Path Towards Trust / Lo Sagrado como Camino Hacia la Confianza

UAIIN-CRIC Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca

June 7, 2023

The final seminar was led by UAIIN-CRIC, the Indigenous Council of CAUCA Colombia. We asked questions about trust and the sacred relationally, in regards to territory, cosmology, and artificial intelligence. Since trust is built relationally — through encounters and dreams, through rituals and gestures, something like touching the earth and hearing an echo — can we (re)create this with AI as its own sacred encounter? Is that something we want? Does building our own story with AI make it possible for us to engage in our own Indigenous autonomous resistance?


Dr. Gabriela Spears-Rico is a cultural anthropologist and an assistant professor of Chicano Latino Studies with a joint appointment in American Indian Studies. A Pirinda Charense and P’urhepecha (descendant) feminist scholar and poet, Dr. Spears-Rico’s BA is from Stanford University and her MA and PhD in Comparative Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. Her work examines manifestations of consumption and cultural appropriation in touristic transactions between mestizos and Indigenous people in Mexico. Her primary investment is in unraveling how the trauma of rape from the Spanish conquest informs the mestiza/o desire to tour and inhabit Indigenous communities. She is currently working on Mestiza/o Melancholia and the Legacy of Conquest in Michoacán, a book that offers an ethnographic analysis of the Days of the Dead and the Virgin of Guadalupe pilgrimages in Mexico to examine how “going native” or “playing Indian” functions in Mexico.

Alex Jacobs-Blum (Lower Cayuga of Six Nations/ German), is a lens-based artist and curator based in Ohròn:wakon (Hamilton, ON). Alex’s deep passion for community, relationship building, uplifting youth, and challenging settler colonialism are integral to her practice and methodology. She strives to empower change by pushing boundaries to disrupt institutional spaces. She is currently the Indigenous curatorial resident at Hamilton Artist Inc, where she developed her first curatorial exhibition, “Born Celestial.”

Yuma Dean Hester — Anishinaabe (Neyaashiinigmiing) and Ililowuk (Moose Factory) — has spent the better part of 20 years in community development, working and consulting with over 30 First Nations communities. He specializes in consultation and facilitation skills, relationship development, open and effective communication, and solution-oriented discussion. He is a founding member and creative director with Bawaadan Collective.

Vilma Almendra and Emmanuel Rozenthal do not speak on behalf of Pueblos en Camino (the people’s path), because it does not have speakers. Pueblos en camino is a proposal, a bet, and a challenge in front of the mirror and to the transitions (for good or bad) of our times. The departure point is a commitment to knitting resistances and autonomies between peoples and processes that we are identified with. We are driven by the search of other-politics from the defense, the resistance, and the reproduction of life in common and collective. Horizons, webs, experiences, wisdoms, knowledge and searches from areas and meanings that usually doesn’t fit, and has never fit on the limits of politics (Capital-Modernity) imposed to serve inevitably the project of accumulation and exclusion. With that landscape operating, knitting people and processes, that prioritizing; off course, resistances from those communitary horizons of politics and the politic towards capital, to the permanent conquest, to the dispossession in the corporative-speculative transnational phase that threatens the whole life.

UAIIN-CRIC Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca

On February 24, 1971, in Toribío, seven Cabildos and the same number of Indigenous reservations created the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca – CRIC. They named the first executive committee, but it could not function due to the repression of the landowners and little organization in the community. In September of the same year, the second congress of the C.R.I.C was held in Tacueyó, where the points of the movement’s political program were defined, and the teachings of leaders such as La Gaitana, Juán Tama, and Manuel Quintín Lame resumed, strengthening our struggles to achieve the application of Law 89 of 1890.


Credits & Acknowledgements

Curation: Tiara Roxanne

Production: Rigoberto Lara & Tunika Onnekikami  

Interpretation: Julian Dupont 

Illustration: Britt Newton

Web Design: Alessa Erawan 



Dr. Gabriela Spears-Rico

Alex Jacobs-Blum

Yuma Dean Hester

Emmanuel Rozenthal

Vilma Alexandra



This series was supported by the Data & Society Research Institute. 

The encounters with Pueblos en Camino and UAIIN-CRIC were made possible through the articulation of the art and pedagogical collective NOMASMETAFORAS (Julian Dupont & Clara Melniczuk) who work as international articulators for UAIIN-CRIC and the Council of traditional healers.

Connected Track