Turtle Island NFT's treasure hunt offers new ways to engage with Web3

The project aims to showcase Indigenous art on a global scale, with half the profits to be donated to Indigenous charities.

An example of one of the Turtle Island NFTs. Image: Supplied.

Kaskata O’Rourke, founder of Turtle Island NFT, always had a knack for adventures. For her, creating an Indigenous-inspired NFT treasure hunt was a task built out of both enjoyment and a need for accessibility.

Turtle Island NFT aims to add Coast Salish art to the Solana blockchain, with the first public mint on September 30 for members. The collection will feature twelve different creatures uniquely designed by Coast Salish artists, including orcas, bears, and thunderbirds. Each creature has its own backstory and meaning that can be read on the Turtle Island NFT website.

“It’s important to showcase Indigenous art on a global scale,” O’Rourke tells Vancouver Tech Journal. “For many reasons, we want it known that our culture, language, and art is not obsolete nor lost. Not only that but we can adapt to and thrive in the Web3 world.”

When asked about the Coast Salish artists who designed the creatures, the founder lights up. Margaret August from the Shíshálh Nation, and Ovila Mailhot from the Nlaka'pamux and Sto:lo Nations have two unique and intricate styles that O’Rourke immediately felt connected and drawn to.

By setting out to educate and uplift Indigenous voices in the tech and Web3 world, O’Rourke wanted to make the Turtle Island NFT project not only accessible to but enjoyable for the public, and not just those already in the Web3 world. That’s when she came up with the “Tortoise Tasks” treasure hunt: 215 self-paced, environmentally conscious, and engaging objectives created to help teach people about Indigenous issues while also having fun. Tasks include taking an elder out for lunch, attending a powwow, going to an event at a Friendship Centre, and telling someone you love them — all with the goal to create memorable experiences.

O’Rourke created 215 tasks to represent the 215 unmarked graves found in 2021 at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, located on Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc territory. The school was in operation until 1969, with an estimated enrollment of 500 children. Some of the bodies found in the graves were as young as three years old. When approached by friends asking how they can help, O’Rourke said, “we can walk together as one people towards healing and learning with each other.”

There are prizes for participants who sign up for the treasure hunt. By becoming a member of Turtle Island NFT and completing 20 of the Tortoise Tasks, individuals will automatically be placed in the draw for the grand prize – an all-expenses paid vacation to Tigh Na Mara Resort and Spa, just off the coast of British Columbia – where they can enjoy spa treatments, eat tapas in a treehouse, and soak in a mineral pool. Holders of an NFT will also be put in the draw to win along with Tortoise Task members, but to submit an entry just by completing tasks, members must finish 20 activities, post a photo or video on social media with the hashtag #TurtleIslandNFT, and alert the organization via social media.

O’Rourke made it clear they wanted to create a space that was welcoming and educational for all people of differing cryptocurrency and Web3 backgrounds, in order to promote accessibility and inclusion. Turtle Island also runs a Discord channel, where there are more opportunities to win giveaways – in the form of “Thunder Totems” – by completing tasks. Thunder Totems are a way for participants to increase their chances of winning by collecting points. The Thunder Totems will be unlocked after the Turtle Island NFTs are sold out, and those that purchase two or more Turtle Island NFTs will receive an automatic 1000 points towards a Thunder Totem. There is also 800 Solana (about $50,000) to be won, with additional entries to the Tigh Na Mara Resort and Spa hidden within 100 Thunder Totems. Earning points through the Discord is unlocked through a different set of social-media-based tasks, which can help participants reach “White Wolf Status” – an achievement where they will receive a token that allows them to mint a Turtle Island NFT for free.

The initial collection will have the first 3,500 NFTs mint at no cost on September 30 – Canada’s National Truth and Reconciliation Day – before 10,000 NFTs become available to the public for purchase for one Solana (roughly $47) on October 5.

Purchasing one of the project’s NFTs helps promote safety and accessibility in Indigenous communities. O’Rourke wanted to create a space in the Web3 world that could help get clean water to Indigenous reserves, after a friend reached out and asked for aid. “It got me thinking: how can I educate others on Indigenous culture, and ensure they’re having fun doing so?” O’Rourke explained. “How could I change ignorance into potential action? That’s where the idea behind Turtle Island NFT was born.” Half of the profits made from Turtle Island NFT will be donated to Indigenous charities that fight for clean drinking water on reservations, help Indigenous youth, and promote assistance with Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

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