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TOP Brings Connectivity to American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

Given the isolation and low population density of many tribal lands, the benefits of telecommunication and information technologies can be particularly important to American Indian communities. Telecommunications offers a way to increase Internet access, improve access to emergency and long-distance medical services, and enhance education and employment opportunities in Indian Country. Examples of TOP grants that serve American Indian and Alaska Native communities include:

The Wireless Web Access Links for Remote User Services (WALRUS) Project, an initiative of Kawerak, Inc., provides wireless Internet access for 16 remote tribes in isolated Alaska to improve information about tribal services, programs, and cultural history.

Navajo Technology Empowerment Centers (NAVTEC) established a digital network for e-commerce development, e-training, and an electronic election system for all Navajo Nation general elections in the Western Navajo Agency.
Minneapolis American Indian Center created a network to promote access to a wide range of social services for American Indian persons living in an urban area, while also developing communication capacities within the Twin Cities American Indian Community, the larger Twin Cities community, and select tribal governments.

Leech Lake Tribal Council in Minnesota created a tele-wellness infrastructure on a medically-underserved Tribal Reservation to provide health information as well as education for clinic staff.

Montana State University's Montana Indian Technology and Cultural Heritage (TeCH) Learning Centers established reservation-based technology training centers at which tribal elders and leaders work with local youth, tribal college educators, and others on the digital preservation of their tribe's historical, cultural, and language resources.

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada established a broadband, wireless network on a remote reservation to allow the tribe and its governmental departments to participate in government discussions and policymaking, and to gain access to information on programs, services, and council meetings.

Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico uses a wireless community network to provide Internet access to the pueblo and information-sharing among tribal government departments. The communication system allows the Pueblo to schedule tribal meetings, disseminate the nightly watch guard schedule for the Tribe's historical pueblo, and encourage greater participation in tribal affairs by all community members.

Cyber Sovereignty — The Tribal Access Grid for Museums and Culture Centers, a project of the University of New Mexico, provides five Native American museums/culture centers with broadband Internet connections for distance education and training, e-commerce, and viewing of web-based exhibitions and databases.

Cherokee FIRST (Friendly Information Referral Service Team) was created by the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma to link electronically seven Cherokee community centers to allow end users in rural and remote areas of Northeast Oklahoma to participate in a wide variety of services (some in the Cherokee language), including health, human services, housing, education, and public safety.

The National Indian Child Welfare Association's NICWAnet in Oregon has improved the well-being of American Indian children and families by improving the child welfare services that they receive, and consequently strengthened tribal and state Indian child welfare programs via the Internet.

C.R.S.T. Telephone Authority in South Dakota is developing a Web-based distance learning program that will train nursing assistants to serve the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

The Suquamish Indian Tribe in Washington State is using wireless technology to provide educational services via a mobile van to the tribal families and children.

The Kalispel Tribe of Indians developed a broadband digital network to assist Indian tribes in eastern Washington preserve and sustain their shared tribal culture, history, and language.


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