Harnessing the Power of New Technologies

Aug 15th, 2010 | By | Category: 22-1: Native Activism, Fall 2010
By Rachael Marchbanks
RACHAEL MARCHBANKS

Rachael Marchbanks, Publisher

The world is experiencing an information revolution thanks to the internet and new technologies. The internet is a tool that not only allows immediate access to information but also provides an almost instantaneous forum for anyone who is inclined to share knowledge and opinions. Through the use of laptops and hand-held devices, one can — theoretically — access it anywhere. But what does this mean in Indian Country?

New technologies can be prohibitively expensive or simply unavailable in remote areas. There is a long history of neglect when it comes to infrastructure development on reservations. Some areas even lack reliable phone service. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that fewer than 10% of American Indians have access to high speed internet.

In June the FCC announced the appointment of Geoffrey Blackwell, a special liaison to the American Indian community, to oversee efforts to get broadband to reservations. Hopefully this will result in improvements in the near future, giving Native people more access for their educational as well as their entrepreneurial pursuits and providing them voice in new forums.

At this time, some tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) enjoy the benefits of advanced technology, such as gigabit Ethernet, direct fiber optic links, interactive white boards, and SMART Boards.

TCJ wants to serve both the sophisticated TCUs and the most isolated readers with timely information and networking opportunities. Therefore, in addition to our hard copy magazine, we are developing products for the varied platforms that our readers prefer. In the coming months, we plan to make TCJ’s print version available online to subscribers. This will be a huge step toward making our content available to researchers. At the present time, you can only access a few of our articles from each of our past issues online.

We are experimenting now on the TCJ Facebook page by posting breaking news from the colleges and from Indian Country. Additionally, we are repackaging previously published student creative writing in an e-book format, which can be read on your iPad, phone, Kindle, or laptop. Hopefully it will prove useful to literature and writing teachers as well as others who enjoy these glimpses into tribal college students’ lives.

In other news, we are pleased to include a special, 12-page section in this issue devoted to climate change. Last November, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) brought together Native leaders, elders, Western and Native scholars, and students for a workshop, Native Peoples Native Homelands. They addressed not only the physical impacts of climate change but also the spiritual ramifications. This landmark effort created new relationships between Natives and Western scientists as they explored how to heal Mother Earth.

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