This social enterprise is building Indigenous ethical systems into digital tools — here’s what you can learn
Why It Matters
Building Indigenous value systems into the bedrock of an app allows an Indigenous developer or online community to practice digital sovereignty — meaningful control over their digital space that allows them to safely share their culture, language, and practices.
“What’s the difference between you and a private Facebook group?” is a question Alejandro Lakgaxixiwa Mayoral Baños frequently encounters when he brings up his organization’s Indigenous-only app.
The executive director of Indigenous Friends, a social enterprise focused on Indigenous digital education and autonomy, likens the app to a tipi — the traditional hide-and-wood dwellings of Indigenous communities on the Great Plains that serve as places of ceremony. Strict protocols govern conduct within a tipi. Anyone within a tipi is not allowed to repeat what was said inside when they leave. This ethos is the complete opposite of Facebook’s rules, where over a billion users can say nearly whatever they wish to anyone with a public account.
Mayoral Banos began speaking with elders about the difficulties they were hearing from Indigenous students in Toronto in
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