Qaumaniq: Beam of Light- Technology Opportunities for Cultural Preservation and Indigenous Self Determination

Lead Author Karl, Kowalski
Institution Contact Office of Information Technology University of Alaska Fairbanks 910 Yukon Drive Fairbanks, Alaska 99775 USA
Theme Theme 3: Local and Traditional Knowledge
Session Name 3.2 Local and traditional knowledge in supporting business and community development in indigenous regions of the North
Presentation Type Poster
Abstract text According to Indigenous legend throughout the Arctic, in the beginning, the world was in darkness and light was hidden in the lodge of the Old Fisherman. Raven, wishing access to this treasure, turned himself into a leaf or spruce needle and was swallowed by the Old Fisherman's daughter. Then, born as her son, Raven pleaded with his Grandfather to bring out the box holding the light. Worn out by the child's whining, the Old Fisherman unwrapped eight boxes, one inside the next, until the last lid was lifted and the lodge was flooded with light. Entranced, the boy ran around the house, playing with the ball of fire. He asked for the roof boards covering the smoke hole to be taken off. No sooner were they removed, than the child changed himself back into Raven, jumped to the roof and flung the ball of light into the sky where it exploded and filled the sky with the sun and the stars. That was how Raven brought light to the world.

A new light is coming to the Arctic. Qaumaniq, an Inupiaq word roughly translated as “beam of light,” is appropo as major telecommunications leaders implement their plans for laying fiber optic cable throughout the pan-Arctic region. The Arctic, one of the last places on earth not yet impacted by ever-growing presence of fiber optic cable along its seafloor, is about to change.

The development of new pathways for telecommunications infrastructure and broadband access throughout the Arctic region offers unlimited potential for scientific discovery, research, improvements in healthcare and education, economic development, cultural preservation and indigenous self-determination. Broadband availability varies widely throughout the Arctic. An examination of infrastructure and community perspectives and needs provides a platform for discussion of the long-term role of technology innovation in cultural preservation throughout the Arctic.