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Indigenous sovereignty in digital territory: a qualitative study on land-based relations with #NativeTwitter

Ashley Caranto Morford, Jeffrey Ansloos

2021 Canada

Technology scholars have often framed cyberspace as landless. Critical technology and Indigenous new media scholars have critiqued this approach, citing the land-based nature of Internet infrastructure. This study seeks to further develop the conceptual framework of Indigenous land-based relations through qualitative analysis of Indigenous language revitalization networks within Twitter. Using a thematic analysis approach, six key themes emerged: (a) Land-based cyber-pedagogy, (b) Rematriations of land-based relations in digital environments, (c) Digital bridges to homelands and lifeways, (d) Networked cultural navigation, (e) Settler colonialism in cyberspace, and (f) Indigenous digital sovereignty and cyber-justice. Implications for theory and practice in both new media studies and language revitalization are considered, with a focus on elucidating the land-based nature of the Internet, Indigenous people’s navigation of colonialism within the Internet, and the meaning of anti-colonial resistance in cyberspace.

land-based relations, Indigenous language revitalization, social media, Twitter, Indigenous technology, Indigenous new media