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Franklin Elementary student explores settler perceptions of Indigenous technologies

| Categories: Indigenous

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June marks Indigenous Peoples Month – a time to recognize the rich history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples across Canada. Ahmed Rahim, District resource teacher of gifted education has written a special story about a Grade 6 student at Franklin Elementary and his research on Indigenous technologies. 

In February of this year, Cielo Ferrari-Morton, a Grade 6 student at Franklin Elementary, participated in BC Heritage Fair – an opportunity for young people to research Canadian history and develop a deeper understanding by questioning the past. 

Cielo’s project was centred on the question of why European settlers believed that Indigenous people were technologically inferior at the time of contact.

Over the course of twelve weeks, Cielo used primary and secondary sources to uncover many Indigenous technologies that had been developed in three distinct regions of Canada: the Arctic, the Pacific Northwest, and the Canadian Plains. The more evidence he uncovered, the more puzzling Cielo’s inquiry became. With all the amazing technologies in use by Indigenous peoples, why did European settlers miss the evidence? Then, his research uncovered an explanation.

 “The Europeans missed all of the technologies because their view did not match the Indigenous view. Since the Indigenous view was to adapt to the land, their technologies seemed invisible,” says Cielo.

By focusing not on the technologies themselves, but on the perceptions of Indigenous peoples' technology in Canada as seen through the lens of settlers, he was able to uncover this profound truth. “The answer lies in the differences between two opposing worldviews,” says Cielo. “I have learned many new things that have enhanced my understanding of how Indigenous peoples once lived in Canada.” 

For his creative component, Cielo spent hours carving arrowheads from obsidian rock by hand using local materials available to him. 

His final presentation at the Heritage Fair received unanimously positive reviews from external adjudicators, and the organizers encouraged him to share his presentation on social media as an exemplar of excellence!

“The idea that Indigenous peoples were technologically inferior is still alive today. I believe that we should have an open mind, and question the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of the Western mindset,” says Cielo.

Cielo is an exceptional learner and the work he has done on this project for the BC Heritage Fair gives us a glimpse of how meticulous, caring, and capable he is. 

Watch his presentation for the Heritage Fair below:

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