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Vince Diaz, Daniel Keefe & Virajita Singh (University of Minnesota)

March 9, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Vince Diaz Daniel Keefe Virjita Singh

Making Knowledge Making Kin Making Native Canoes

Indigeneity is about making good on kinship with the world, and this presentation is about how academic and transdisciplinary partnership with various Indigenous communities around canoe building and rebuilding of their waterways has been catalytic and generative for all involved. If Indigenous making of kin is about restoring proper relations of kinship and reciprocity with all things as life forms as the criteria for defining what it means to be human, then the specific forms of relations that are material to and mobilized in the building and use of Indigenous watercraft in relation to traditional ecological knowledge about water involves the expansion and mobility of humanness across geographies, scales, and other categories (like technologies and materialities).  With technical abilities to carry heavy loads and cover a lot of ground, literally and metaphorically, Indigenous watercraft — and the crafts of knowing associated with their making, use, origins, and meanings – are capacious vessels for all sorts of other purposes. In our experience at the University of Minnesota, building kinship through building Indigenous watercraft and crafts of knowledge with Indigenous people has been nothing less than transformational.

We are Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics and non-academics who have been collaborating with Micronesian and Dakota communities in rural Minnesota who have themselves been partnering to revive and practice their respective canoe and water traditions. Centering commitments to Indigenous resurgence, mediation, and futurities; to decolonizing academia; and to exploring new forms of embodied knowledge production through engaged and participatory practices, our transdisciplinary and intercultural collaboration also explores the mutually informing and beneficial social relationships and epistemological outcomes staked in the strategic and creative juxtapositioning of digital and indigenous technologies and their evolving traditions of making/design. These involve hands-on building of Dakota and Micronesian watercraft, maritime structures, and virtual/augmented/mixed reality platforms. In this presentation, we  discuss examples of what’s been particularly generative, productive, innovative, and catalyzing for us in our respective fields/disciplines/communities. Key ideas include transindigeneity as theory and method; participatory design; augmented spaces; data visualization and physicalization; data sovereignty; digital authorship; spatial user interfaces;  embodied, immersive, and tangible computing.

About the Speakers

Vicente M. Diaz (Pohnpeian and Filipino) is Director of the Native Canoe Program and Chair of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities. Diaz mixes training in history, anthropology, and cultural studies with three decades of traditional seafaring leadership, participation, and chronicling of outrigger canoe building and voyaging survival and revival in the Central Carolines and in the Marianas.

Daniel Keefe is Professor of Computer Science and Distinguished University Teaching Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota Twin-Cities. Keefe directs the Interactive Visualization Lab at the University of Minnesota, where his research centers on virtual environments, data visualization, embodied computing, and art+science collaborations.

Virajita Singh is faculty in the School of Architecture and a researcher in the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities. Singh’s teaching and research engage, architecture, sustainable design and participatory design in community and cultural contexts connecting traditional knowledges, ways of thinking with shaping collective futures. In 2019 she collaboratively led a graduate architecture studio workshop exploring Boat Cultures related to Micronesian, Dakota and Norwegian contexts.

Mat Pendleton (Wakiyan Waste’ /Good Thunder, Bdewakantunwan Dakota) is the Director of the Lower Sioux Indian Community Recreation Center. He is a proud husband to Jenna Pendleton, a father of four (soon to be five), and a foster father of three. His passion is keeping traditional Dakota art forms, and practicing porcupine quill work, Ċanśaśa (traditional tobacco) harvesting and preparation, and canoe (dugout and birchbark) making, and reconnecting youth to the water.

Jacob Bernier (Red River Métis descent) is a Program Specialist for the Native American Initiatives department at the Minnesota Historical Society. Bernier utilizes his experiences as a carpenter and public historian to research and assist in creating traditional-styled canoes around Mni Sota Makoce.

About Design@Large

Design@Large is a speaker series hosted by The Design Lab at UC San Diego, where each quarter we examine a topic in society and the relevance and implications through the lens of human centered design.

Our theme this quarter is “Winter Polar Reversals ~~~ from the Future to the Past~~~~ from the Sky to the Ocean Floor”.

Follow along as speakers in ocean media, maker, and mapping cultures shift your geopolitical orientation. It’s cold on Zoom. Bring your life jacket. Hourlong lectures will be followed by workshops, walks, immersive experiences, and/or hands-on making and doing, to be performed on Zoom when pandemic circumstances bring us together remotely.


March 9, 2022
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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