Language extinction triggers the loss of unique medicinal knowledge | PNAS

Abstract:  The United Nations proclamation of 2022–2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages aims to raise global awareness about their endangerment and importance for sustainable development. Indigenous languages contain the knowledge that communities have about their surrounding plants and the services they provide. The use of plants in medicine is a particularly relevant example of such ecosystem services. Here, we find that most medicinal knowledge is linguistically unique—i.e., known by a single language—and more strongly associated with threatened languages than with threatened plants. Each indigenous language is therefore a unique reservoir of medicinal knowledge—a Rosetta stone for unraveling and conserving nature’s contributions to people.

 

The Global Extinction of Languages Is Threatening a Vital Type of Human Knowledge

“As human languages are driven to extinction around the world, a verbal encyclopedia of medical knowledge is on the brink of being forgotten.

Among 12,495 medicinal uses for plants in indigenous communities, new research has found over 75 percent of those plants are each tied to just one local language. If these unique words trickle out of use, so too may the knowledge they contain….

Language extinction is a tragic phenomenon that’s been occurring worldwide, as languages spoken by precious few people are replaced by larger ones. Roughly one language ceases to be spoken every four months, and 3,054 languages are currently endangered around the world….

The vast majority of plant species in the study were found to have medical properties described in just one indigenous language, many of which are themselves endangered….

In North America, for instance, the authors found waning indigenous languages held 86 percent of all unique knowledge on plant medicine. In the northwest Amazon, on the other hand, 100 percent of medicinal plant knowledge is restricted to languages on the edge of extinction. …”

Consultation with Indigenous Peoples on the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science

“As a part of a series of thematic consultations for building a global consensus on Open Science, UNESCO organized an online meeting on January 15 to take stock of Indigenous peoples‘ perspective on Open Science.  

In view of developing a standard-setting instrument on Open Science, UNESCO is leading an inclusive, transparent and consultative process. In this process, inclusiveness of diverse knowledge systems and knowledge holders is essential, and the first draft of the Recommendation is based on the broad inputs provided by stakeholders from all regions and groups.

Considering the great importance given to the creation of a productive relationship between Open Science and Indigenous Knowledge Systems, the consultation with Indigenous Peoples brought together 120 participants from 50 countries, including indigenous scholars and academics, members of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), members of different initiatives such as the Forest Peoples Programme, the Global Indigenous Data Alliance, the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity, and the drafting committee of the CARE principles for Indigenous Data Governance.    …”

UCLA researchers digitize massive collection of folk medicine | UCLA

“A project more than 40 years in the making, the Archive of Healing is one of the largest databases of medicinal folklore from around the world. UCLA Professor David Shorter has launched an interactive, searchable website featuring hundreds of thousands of entries that span more than 200 years, and draws from seven continents, six university archives, 3,200 published sources, and both first and second-hand information from folkloric field notes.

The entries address a broad range of health-related topics including everything from midwifery and menopause to common colds and flus. The site aims to preserve Indigenous knowledge about healing practices, while preventing that data from being exploited for profit….”

Talking Stories: Encyclopedia of Traditional Ecological Knowledge

“Talking Stories is an open educational resource dedicated to raising awareness of hunter-gatherer literary traditions and ecological knowledge, and encouraging their incorporation into Western teaching. To this end, it aggregates stories from diverse foraging peoples across the planet, explicates the ecological knowledge encoded in these stories, and guides users to additional resources. It is intended for use by educators seeking to integrate traditional Indigenous literature and natural history into their courses, and by students and researchers interested in the origins of literature, natural history, and cultural transmission….”

The CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance: overview and Australian activities – Hanging Together

“The CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance focus on appropriate use and reuse of Indigenous data. The principles recenter and reframe discussion and action on the sovereign rights and dignity of Indigenous Peoples, especially against the backdrop of “big data” and broad open access initiatives that are prevalent in today’s libraries and archives….

On February 2, 2021 representatives of the Global Indigenous Data Alliance (GIDA) and the Equity for Indigenous Research and Innovation Coordinating Hub (ENRICH) and representatives from National Library of Australia and University of Sydney joined attendees from Australian and New Zealand institutions for a discussion session hosted by National and State Libraries Australia (NSLA) and the OCLC Research Library Partnership. The panelists shared updates and examples of their work, as well as lessons they’ve learned. Many thanks to those who offered wisdom and expertise. This is a summary of what was shared in the session….”

The CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance: overview and Australian activities – Hanging Together

“The CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance focus on appropriate use and reuse of Indigenous data. The principles recenter and reframe discussion and action on the sovereign rights and dignity of Indigenous Peoples, especially against the backdrop of “big data” and broad open access initiatives that are prevalent in today’s libraries and archives….

On February 2, 2021 representatives of the Global Indigenous Data Alliance (GIDA) and the Equity for Indigenous Research and Innovation Coordinating Hub (ENRICH) and representatives from National Library of Australia and University of Sydney joined attendees from Australian and New Zealand institutions for a discussion session hosted by National and State Libraries Australia (NSLA) and the OCLC Research Library Partnership. The panelists shared updates and examples of their work, as well as lessons they’ve learned. Many thanks to those who offered wisdom and expertise. This is a summary of what was shared in the session….”

The Monopoly of Journal Subscriptions and the Commodification of Research – The Wire Science

“So the final question is whether the government of India should try to address the basic problem of proprietorship of knowledge, and its subsequent commercialisation, by negotiating for a better deal from journal proprietors for access at less exorbitant fees; or should it examine how to change the law to give proprietary ownership to the creators of the knowledge?

The earlier bulk subscriptions negotiated by Uruguay and Egypt, cost them about Rs 48 per capita, while India currently spends about Rs 12 per capita. For India to arrive at an agreement at the same rate as Uruguay and Egypt would mean an expenditure of roughly Rs 6,500 crore (or $890mn). As it is, in India, public funding for research is scarce and becoming scarcer by the day through market-friendly policies. Changing the law, on the other hand, would either mean modifying existing legal provisions or at least passing legislation with respect to publicly funded research and its products within India as well as free access to such research globally….

Meanwhile, we must be quite clear that Sci-Hub and Library Genesis are providing an enormously useful service to scholars all over the world. It will be a long time before any official agency in India will be able to provide a comparable service. The best we can hope for is that the court cases against them languish for as long as possible as they do for much less laudable causes.”

“Perspectives on Openness” video and transcript now available | York University Libraries

“York University Libraries’ panel discussion for Open Access Week 2020, “Perspectives on Openness: Honouring Indigenous Ways of Knowing,” took place virtually on Oct. 20, 2020. Video recordings and transcripts are available online via YorkSpace. The recordings and transcripts can be used for educational purposes, including research and teaching….”

Perspectives on Openness: Honouring Indigenous Ways of Knowing – YouTube

“October 19-26, 2020 is Open Access Week and this year’s theme is Open With Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion. In an era of open scholarship and research, how do we as a research community navigate and balance openness while respecting Indigenous knowledge and cultural expression? Hosted by the York University Libraries, and moderated by Stacy Allison-Cassin, Associate Librarian, this panel event offers an opportunity to encourage broader participation in conversations and actions around emerging scholarly communication issues and will center Indigenous approaches to open scholarship and research.

Join us with Alan Ojiig Corbiere, Assistant Professor (Department of History), Deborah McGregor, Associate Professor (Osgoode Hall Law School and Faculty of Environmental Studies), and Sean Hillier, Assistant Professor (School of Health Policy & Management) as they lead a discussion on the themes of openness, open scholarship, and Indigenous knowledge….”

Sharing Indigenous Cultural Heritage Online: An Overview of GLAM Policies

This post was co-authored by CC’s Open Policy Manager Brigitte Vézina and Legal and Policy Intern Alexis Muscat. Tomorrow is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day that seeks to raise awareness of and support Indigenous peoples’ rights and aspirations around the world. We at Creative Commons (CC) wish to highlight this important … Read More “Sharing Indigenous Cultural Heritage Online: An Overview of GLAM Policies”
The post Sharing Indigenous Cultural Heritage Online: An Overview of GLAM Policies appeared first on Creative Commons.

In Canada, Inuit Communities Are Shaping Research Priorities

“Bell’s own claim to fame is SmartICE. Created in collaboration with the Nunatsiavut government, SmartICE integrates traditional ice knowledge with real-time data gathered from sensors embedded in and pulled across sea ice. Piloted in Nain beginning in 2012, SmartICE aims to generate a reliable map of travel hazards, accessible by desktop or smartphone.

SmartICE isn’t alone. Over the past decade, the Nunatsiavut government has redirected outside researchers’ efforts toward Inuit priorities, including mental health, marine pollution in wild foods, housing shortages, and, of course, sea ice. In doing so, Nunatsiavut has been an early contributor to the change now spreading across Canada’s four Inuit regions, which altogether encompass more than 1.4 million square miles, from the Alaskan border to the Atlantic. The consequences could transform the conduct of Canadian and international researchers in the north — a part of the world that holds vital clues about the future of a warming planet, but where the legacy of science-as-usual remains shadowed by centuries of mistrust, anger, and exploitation….

Six years before Nunatsiavut formed, the majority-Inuit territory of Nunavut was created in Canada’s high Arctic, and Canada’s other two Inuit regions are today moving toward limited self-government. All four regions come together as Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a group that represents Canadian Inuit interests federally. In 2018, ITK launched the National Inuit Strategy on Research (NISR), aiming to elevate research self-determination and give Inuit communities greater say in the research that takes place in their homeland….

As with SmartICE, his research involves deploying buoys to develop more accurate predictive models of sea-ice coverage. In order to work in Nunatsiavut, he shares data freely with community members, and tends to place buoys where the community requests….”

Traditional Knowledge (TK) Labels – Local Contexts

“The TK Labels are a tool for Indigenous communities to add existing local protocols for access and use to recorded cultural heritage that is digitally circulating outside community contexts. The TK Labels offer an educative and informational strategy to help non-community users of this cultural heritage understand its importance and significance to the communities from where it derives and continues to have meaning. TK Labeling is designed to identify and clarify which material has community-specific restrictions regarding access and use. This is especially with respect to sacred and/or ceremonial material, material that has gender restrictions, seasonal conditions of use and/or materials specifically designed for outreach purposes. The TK Labels also can be used to add information that might be considered ‘missing’, including the name of the community who remains the creator or cultural custodian of the material, and how to contact the relevant family, clan or community to arrange appropriate permissions….”

Decisions adopted by the Executive Board at its 207th session – UNESCO Digital Library

From p. 15: “The Executive Board,

1. Having examined documents 207 EX/7 and 207 EX/PG/1.INF.3 and Corr.,

2. Takes note of the consolidated roadmap towards the adoption of a possible UNESCO recommendation on open science contained in the Annex to document 207 EX/7;

3. Notes the importance of ensuring an open and transparent process based on a proper geographical and gender balance for the selection of the members of the Advisory Committee;

4. Requests the Director-General to ensure a broad and geographically representative Open Science Partnership, with relevant stakeholders and institutions from all regions and from all branches of Basic and Applied Sciences, including Natural Sciences, Life Sciences, and Social and Human Sciences, particularly taking into account local and indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge;

5. Recommends that the specific challenges of scientists in developing countries in regards to weak Science Technology and Innovation (STI) policy and legal systems, and the digital, technological and knowledge divides, be adequately addressed within the consolidated Roadmap and future recommendation to enable the scientists to fully participate and reap the benefits of the Open Science framework;

6. Also recommends that the General Conference, at its 40th session, invite the Director-General, to initiate, in accordance with the applicable rules and provided the resources are available, the process of elaborating a draft text of a new standard-setting instrument on open science, in the form of a recommendation, to be submitted for consideration by the General Conference at its 41st session;

7. Further recommends that the General Conference, at its 40th session, request the Director-General to hold at least one Category 2 intergovernmental meeting in presentia with a view to the elaboration of a recommendation on Open Science;

8. Recommends the Director-General to elaborate a draft Terms of Reference of The Open Science Advisory Committee to be presented at the next General Conference, for its consideration.”

Ownership, Control, Access and Possession in OA Publishing

“The issue of whose voices are represented—in print, online or on air—by whom and for whom, is particularly salient for under-represented and historically marginalized communities. Communities of colour and Indigenous peoples have more often found themselves to be objects of scholarly interest and academic scrutiny rather than recognized as co-creators of the research and equal partners in the publishing projects that follow. The phrase ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’—while historically associated with disability inclusion and empowerment—has greater relevance than ever, and offers us an opportunity to rethink how we share information in this digitally connected world.

For Indigenous communities in North America and beyond, the institutional momentum behind open access imperatives risks infringing (and even violating) long-held cultural protocols about who should be privy to certain forms of information and traditional knowledge, and when and how these are to be shared. The First Nations principles of OCAP®—Ownership, Control, Access and Possession—are important standards that all of us working in cultural heritage need to study with care….”