Three B.C. First Nations receive UBC funding to preserve oral histories

Three B.C. First Nations have received funding from UBC’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and the Museum of Anthropology to preserve their oral histories, traditions and culture. The latest recipients of the Aboriginal Audio Digitization and Preservation Program (AADPP) include the Tsilhqot’in National Government (Williams Lake), the Hupacasath First Nation (Port Alberni) and the Yuuł ʔtłʔath First Nation (Ucluelet). The AADPP – now in its second year – provides matching funds for B.C. Aboriginal organizations to convert audio cassette tapes to digital formats for preservation and access. Each recipient is awarded up to $10,000 and the project seeks proposals bi-annually from within the province. Project partners also include UBC’s Museum of Anthropology and the First Nations Technology Council.

For the Hupacasath First Nation, the funds will result in connecting their own resources with those held by the American Philosophical Society’s Centre for Native American and Indigenous Research. This Philadelphia institution is digitizing its holdings of Hupacasath materials and has reached out to the community to co-curate this digital collection. These materials, recorded by ethnographers and linguists who visited the Alberni Valley, are from as early as the late 1880’s.

The Tsilhqot’in National Government hopes to preserve their traditional knowledge gained from their elders – a critically important task, especially as most of these teachings are passed orally from generation to generation. Their digitization work consists of approximately 400 cassettes. The AADPP funding will enable the Tsilquot’in language committee to continue its work on language projects.

The Yuuł ʔtłʔath First Nation’s digitization project also focuses on digitizing language materials. They plan to use AADPP funding to purchase a new computer that will enable them to not only to digitize, describe and preserved their audio materials, but to produce new language learning materials using the appropriate orthography.

staff member with equipment

The AADPP will welcome representatives from each community to the University of British Columbia for an intensive, week long audio digitization training program this coming October. The training, held at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, provides opportunities for recipients to get hands-on-training and advice for implementing in-house digitization programs.