Tribal members representing two national nonprofits have joined together to launch a national working group devoted solely to tribal digital inclusion. 
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TRIBAL MEMBERS SEEK GREATER DIGITAL INCLUSION
Tribal Digital Inclusion Working Group Established
 
 
For Immediate Release
Contact:  Candice Mendez @ cmendez@nativepublicmedia.org
February 11, 2015 – Phoenix, Arizona
 
Tribal members representing two national nonprofits, the largest broadband network in Indian Country, a university tribal think-tank, a tribally operated school, and representatives from Tribal Nations, have joined together to launch a national working group devoted solely to tribal digital inclusion within the United States.
 
“Our goal is to make a tangible difference in the digital inclusion of Native Americans by supporting each other, influencing others, combining assets, exploring new ideas and making bold recommendations to bring our inclusion within the digital sphere a reality,” said Susan Feller, Executive Director of the Association of Tribal Libraries and Museums.
 
“We consider this approach necessary,” agrees Loris Taylor, President and CEO of Native Public Media.  “By supporting and facilitating work sessions tailored to the broadband needs of Indian Country, our goal is to be especially effective in reaching and engaging a broad range of Tribal interests from housing, energy, and other sectors.  We know what works for Indian Country and we are willing to place sound recommendations before the necessary agencies to increase the digital inclusion of Native Americans in this country.”
 
The TDI is extremely concerned about the lack of data regarding digital connectivity in Indian Country. Data and what works, in terms of delivering digital inclusion to Native Americans, and the evidence of the needs and desires of Tribes must be consistently delivered to policymakers at the local, State and Federal levels.
 
Matthew Rantanen, Director of the Southern California Tribal Digital Village explains, “We needed a formal framework to underpin and evaluate the effectiveness of our own digital inclusion in a wide range of current broadband matters and reforms and to present a logical and sustainable approach to stimulating and sustaining the digital inclusion of Native Americans by working on the details and complexities that often face and challenge Indian Country in policymaking.
 
“Providing a rigorous educational program in the digital era is a challenge to tribal schools with limited broadband and Internet connectivity which results in the subsequent lack of access to on-line learning opportunities. The Santa Fe Indian School, owned and operated by the nineteen Pueblos of New Mexico, brings years of experience addressing digital inclusion in grades 7-12 as well practical knowledge of the E-rate program and regional broadband development to the TDI working group.  We are happy to share our knowledge with other Tribes,” states Kimball Sekaquaptewa of the Santa Fe Indian School who also serves as an E-rate consultant to Tribal entities.
 
“Tribal communities see digital inclusion and access to broadband as determining our telecommunications destiny on our own terms.  Broadband gives us the means necessary to live in our rural and remote locations without sacrificing our cultural beliefs. It allows us to develop our communities in a way that fits our unique needs and preserving values that we hold sacred while planning for a digital future,” concludes Danae Wilson, Nez Perce Tribe’s Department of Technology.
 
The TDI will receive much needed academic support from one of Arizona’s universities.
 
“We are committed to working with tribal communities and community organizations with regards to digital inclusion. We feel we have much expertise to offer the TDI working group.  Data analysis is something we can offer via student engagements and working trans-disciplinarily across the many departments and schools at Arizona State University,” states Dr. Traci Morris, Director of the American Indian Policy Institute.
 
TDI draws from member strengths to propose a holistic community-based approach to tribal digital inclusion from within the experiences of tribal organizations.
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The TDI is currently comprised of the Association of Tribal Libraries and Museums, Native Public Media, Southern California Tribal Digital Village, Santa Fe Indian School, the Arizona State University American Indian Policy Institute, and Nez Perce Tribe. 
 
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