Hopoksa Indigenous Online Software

What would software for online meetings and learning look like if it manifested Indigenous ways of relating and knowing? And once you could answer that question, how would you go about actualizing such software? Could it be done with present technology? In late fall of 2019, we were given a seed of Knowing by the Land: that a whole new type of software was to manifest itself for and among Indigenous people — one type of software that would  facilitate Indigenous online meetings and another that would facilitate Indigenous online learning. Tapestry Institute has begun the process of  addressing these ideas in a conceptual way and then applying them to the development of actual software. The first software we’ll develop is the one for online meetings, for three reasons: it is the simpler software to develop, there is a more immediate need for it, and we need to use it ourselves to produce the more complex online learning software.

We’ve given the name Hopoksa* to this entire Indigenous online software project to honor an important person as well as Indigenous processes of learning and collaboration. Hopoksa (pronounced hoh-pohk-sah) is a Choctaw word meaning “wisdom.” Because we are using Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous ways of knowing to develop software that will, in turn, facilitate these ways of knowing and learning, the software we are producing promotes Indigenous wisdom. But there is an another reason we chose this term. The support of long-time personal friend and Tapestry Board Member Vicki Solomon has made it possible for Tapestry to do this work at all. We have been through many years of trial that we wouldn’t have survived had Vicki not believed in what we are doing and provided strong support of many kinds at crucial times when our courage alone could no longer carry us. Her last name, “Solomon,” comes from the root word for “peace,” but it also refers to wisdom. We feel the wisdom to which it points is precisely that wisdom which Vicki’s own vision and courage have manifested over all these years. So we sought a Choctaw word that would express the wisdom inherent in what we are doing and also honor the one person who has made it possible for us to do this work at all. That word is Hopoksa. It honors Vicki Sholomon and all that she has done to make sure that Tapestry can continue helping Indigenous Knowledge weave itself into the lives of all beings. Vicki is even an engineer, so it is doubly meaningful that the project named after her integrates engineering and Indigenous worldview.

The Hopoksa Indigenous Internet Software Project is producing two separate types of software, one for online meetings and another for online learning:

Indigenous Online Meeting Software. In-person meetings and the travel required to meet in person are not possible now, and no one knows when it will be safe to have face-to-face meetings again. A team of 10 people from Indigenous communities in North America, Australia, and New Zealand is working together to develop, design, and then distribute software that supports and facilitates Indigenous-style collaboration.

Indigenous Online Learning Software. Online learning is also creating difficulties for people in Indigenous communities, as available learning software was developed within Western worldview and therefore manifests Western ways of learning. This project has not yet begun because we have to develop the Meeting Software first; that’s what will permit us to work together online effectively enough to develop the more complex software for Indigenous learning. But you can read our informal position paper here, to see what sorts of things we’re thinking about.

* Yakoke (thank you) once again to Choctaw Language Elder Dora Wickson for helping us use the appropriate word.