Community Cultural Values Mapping: Does it Work?

Community Values Mapping sessions allow for more participants to be involved in Indigenous Knowledge studies and for new stories and perspectives to be brought to the table.


What are the benefits of conducting Community Cultural Values Mapping sessions?

In an individual Land Use and Occupancy Mapping session, participants are asked to discuss their land use spanning over decades and even their whole life time. Inevitably, interview participants may forget or overlook some of their important land use activities that would then fail to be documented on the map. Because of the group dynamics associated with Community Cultural Values Mapping sessions, people are more easily prompted and in this circumstance, land users who have already been interviewed in an individual map biography can document things that they had not yet brought up.

Another benefit to conducting the Community Cultural Values Mapping sessions is the ability to increase the number of participants in each Indigenous Knowledge Study. Because of project scope and time, only about 10-20% of community members on average are given the opportunity to participate in these studies.  


Cecelia Brooks, Water Grandmother and Indigenous Knowledge Advisor for Mi'gmawe'l Tplu'taqnn Incorporated (MTI), a non-profit organization whose members are the nine Mi’gmaq communities in New Brunswick

“There’s never enough time to map every person.  So, what we [generally] do is try to get biographical maps of the heaviest land users, right? So, the ones who are on the land the most. And then, some are left out.  So, this is an opportunity for some [more people] to get involved…” ~ Cecelia Brooks, Water Grandmother and Indigenous Knowledge Advisor for Mi'gmawe'l Tplu'taqnn Incorporated (MTI), a non-profit organization whose members are the nine Mi’gmaq communities in New Brunswick


Overall, Community Cultural Values Mapping should not be a replacement to the individual Land Use and Occupancy interviews, but should be used in conjunction with them for their value of increasing community participation and increasing the overall points on a map.


What is Community Cultural Values Mapping?

Community Cultural Values Mapping is essentially a group Land Use and Occupancy interview.  In a Community Cultural Values Mapping session, several members from a given community come together in one room to discuss community land use and occupancy. Where individual map biographies focus on individual harvesting and other land use, group mapping sessions tend to be more focused on the larger community knowledge of important cultural sites, environmental and ecological habitats and shared knowledge of community history and ancestral land use.  These values are categorized and mapped the same way they would be for an individual map biography.


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