Archive for the ‘cultural property’ Category

Online Cultural Heritage Tool – Mukurtu

25 March 2011

As announced on Kimberly A. Christen’s blog In Transition, the website for Mukurtu has been launched.

According to the blog entry, “Mukurtu is an open source, adaptable, digital archive and content management tool specifically aimed at the needs of indigenous communities, archives, libraries and museums globally.”

Using a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Mukurtu Development team has been reevaluating Mukurtu, toward an updated release.

Mukurtu is a Web 2.0 tool for online social interactions. Based on the programming language Drupal, Mukurtu includes the following features:

  • Tools for typing characters not found on the standard QWERTY keyboard,
  • Fine-grained security to restrict cultural properties as required,
  • Operates on Windows, Mac or Linux, and
  • On-the-fly recording

In addition to the Mukurtu website, learn about the program on BBC’s “Digital Planet” in an episode about ownership and openness. The lead-in to Kimberly Christen’s portion on Mukurtu starts at 8:10.

According to the “About” page, the word Mukurtu means dilly bag in Warumungu (wrm). A dilly bag is used to hold sacred objects.

Stealing Linguistic Property

9 June 2007

Linguists sometimes say that they have a better reputation than anthropologists because of the (mainly) former practice of taking cultural property for research or display, sometimes without permission. Nevertheless, linguists are not immune from such unsavory practices, and have also been known to hoard cassette recordings and other cultural materials.

One such case is the failure to credit a native speaker for assistance, mentioned in the article “Saving a language” in the Sioux City Journal. An Omaha speaker (not named) provided pronunciation and editing help to a lexicographer of Omaha and then found that her name was not mentioned in the credits when the dictionary was published. It is common courtesy to thank people who provide support as this woman did, and not providing thanks leads to bad feelings that can cause friction and problems later on.

From the article, it does not sound like anything special was expected, just a note of credit, something easy enough to note in a forward to a dictionary. Some linguists also list language sources as co-authors on papers, which seems like a fair way to provide the recognition of the importance of language speakers.

For more Omaha resources, including a beginning dictionary and glossed texts, see Omaha Language Curriculum Development. Further information about Omaha including other resources is available at Omaha-Ponca.