Native American Telecommunication Independence: One Step Above Smoke Signals
Chavez, Juan Carlos
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The digital divide disproportionally impacts Native American and Alaska Natives. Their homeland geographies, economies and technology footprints effect their ability to self-determine their Information Communication Technologies (ICT). The unequal access to information has rendered them Information Poor (Childers, 1975) and Technology Poor. Information and technology poverty have negatively affected the participation of Native American and Alaska Natives in the Information Age. Tribal leaders from the Pacific Northwest are challenged with bridging this digital divide with limited technologists, non-tribal capital investments and disregard for their tribal sovereignty. Through a series of interviews and examination of documents, this dissertation investigated (1) how the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and Tulalip Tribal Council members decide to implement ICT on their sovereign lands; and (2) the impact of those decisions on their community members. These two tribes are at two opposite points in ICT development. This examination of tribal decision-making concerning ICT identified six recurring themes: sovereignty, economics, geography, information poverty, the Federal Communications Commission and a Tribal Broadband Fund. The study found that honoring the tribes’ sovereignty, in all matters related to ICT, is the most effective means for bridging the digital divide. The co-creator model is posited as a first step in establishing the proper working relationship between the tribes and the federal government, thereby addressing the root of the digital divide in Indian Country.
- Information science