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African Group Using GPS and to Protect Sacred Sites

Two stories from the Globe and Mail in the past couple of days concerning the Mbendjele Yaka (also Pygmies; northern Congo) use of GPS units to document sacred sites and locations of traditional use. The broader context: logging of the Mbendjele Yaka’s forested territory.

To get around the problem of low literacy rates, a system of icons was developed for the GPS units:

“The sets have icons on them, so they don’t have to be able to read and write. They basically go out and say okay, click, here is a sacred site, and a GPS point is taken and links up to the satellite,” [said the project’s director].

For example, a syringe represents an area of medicinal plants, a pygmy with an arrow a hunting area, while an image of a typical leaf and liana home indicates a living area.

(Via the Aboriginal Mapping Network)

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