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Dr. Traci Morris Presents Data Findings on Tribal Digital Inclusion from Forthcoming ATALM Study at Tribal Telecom Conference

Homahota Consulting’s Traci Morris, also an Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums Advisory Council member, spoke on February 10th, 2014 at the Tribal Telecom 2014 Conference.  As a co-author of the forthcoming Digital Inclusion in Indian Country: A National Study on the Role of Tribal Libraries, along with Miriam Jorgensen, Research Director for the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona. Morris presented preliminary data from the Study regarding the state of the digital divide in Indian Country to be released later this spring.

The presentation was part of a panel at Tribal Telecom on The Need for Numbers: Assessing for Broadband Design, Deployment, and Impacts in Indian Country.  Moderated by Marisa Duarte (Pascua Yaqui) of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, the session looked at how tribal communities can make empowered and informed decisions about design, deployment, utilization, and application of broadband technologies when they have access to reliable data about existing infrastructure, systems, and services, as well as the communities’ particular needs, challenges and opportunities.

Jennifer Rackliff (Cherokee) of ICF International shared datafrom a Cherokee Nation broadband survey that she worked on with Jon James of the Cherokee Nation. The internal study of the Nation’s connectivity was specifically for use by the Cherokee Nation. Forest James (Tolowa) of EnerTribe talked about tribal self-determination through communications.  His company works with tribes in planning and implementation of broadband deployment, which has resulted in a strong perspective on what communities need to be successful in this endeavor.

As presenters, we shared our experiences in conducting assessments in a range of settings, including community planning and needs assessments, research on digital services in tribal libraries and the relevance to broadband access and comparative studies of deployment strategies among various tribes. We also discussed questions of scope, process, methodologies, and surprise finding, results and outcomes.

The Tribal Telecom Conference is in its third year now and the purpose of this Conference is to serve as a bridge between tribes and the telecom industry, providing substantive and timely information that is technically sound yet accessible to all participants, in a forum that is professional, respectful, and tribal-centric.