It's Not Quite Wakanda: Preserving Indigenous Cultural Heritage Augmented and Virtual Reality Environments
In an ideal world, new media technology would be designed with the needs of indigenous communities in mind and be able to capture and preserve their cultural heritage, much like the technology of the fictional kingdom of Wakanda suited the needs of its inhabitants. From Nanook of the North to the Mukurtu archive, non-indigenous collaborators have tried to work with indigenous groups to capture and preserve indigenous cultural heritage using experimental new media forms with varying degrees of success. Creators of virtual and augmented reality environments using photogrammetry argue that they can create immersive experiences and can preserve the past better than maintaining real life sites. This paper aims to evaluate the effectiveness of current plans for digital preservation of these projects and address the unique challenges of designing respectful and sustainable virtual reality and augmented reality environments for indigenous cultural heritage. Better emphasis on sustainable digital preservation, will also make it possible to divorce these projects from the legacy of salvage anthropology by maintaining both the traditional knowledge of indigenous cultures for future generations and the technological skill needed to develop and digitally preserve these projects within indigenous communities themselves.