New Media, Technology and Internet Use in Indian Country

Quantitative and Qualitative Analyses

By Traci Morris, Policy and Program Analyst, Native Public Media
Sascha D. Meinrath, New America Foundation

November 19, 2009

As digital communications and the Internet become increasingly pervasive, Native Americans continue to lack access to this digital revolution.  Native Americans are among the last citizens to gain access to the Internet, with access to broadband often unavailable or overly expensive in Native communities.  Beyond that challenge, there is a fundamental lack of qualitative or quantitative empirical research on Native American Internet use, adoption, and access, stifling the Native voice in broadband and media policy. As the Federal Communications Commission develops a data-focused and comprehensive National Broadband Plan, the Native voice, and supportive research, is more important than ever.

The New Media, Technology and Internet Use in Indian Country: Quantitative and Qualitative Analyses contains the first valid and credible data gathered from the ground up on technology use, access, and adoption in Native American lands. The report combines both a survey of Native American technology use, normed against other national surveys, and case studies of six successful projects exhibiting Digital Excellence in Native America.

The study finds the digital revolution is stirring in tribal communities. Native Americans are using technology when it is available to interact, communicate, share culture, and gain the skills needed in a digital world. Despite a lack of access, higher prices for broadband and often non-existent infrastructure, leaders in these communities have developed a vision and built self-sufficient networks and community technology centers to connect and strengthen their Native communities.

The survey respondents and success stories highlighted in the report are representative of a widespread desire in Native America to have access to 21st century communication technologies to affect the policies that will shape the future of the technological landscape. Towards this end, the report combines a best practices model for deploying similar projects and includes recommendations for the necessary interventions and policies for bridging the Native American digital divide.  The report helps to propel Native voices into the national broadband discussion and lays the groundwork for Native deployment, access, and adoption of digital communication that is driven by and serving the needs of Native America

Please click here to view the presentation of the New Media, Technology and Internet Use in Indian Country: Quantitative and Qualitative Analyses at New America Foundation on November 19, 2009. To download the study go here.

Published by Traci L. Morris

Dr. Morris, the Director of the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University is a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. Under her leadership, the AIPI has grown and diversified its service to Indian Country via an MOU formalizing a long-standing partnership with the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) and forming the Tribal Economic Leadership Program offering training in Tribal Economic Governance and Tribal Financial Management; access to Entrepreneurship training and tribal business support through Inno-Nations; and Economic Development Consulting; and, the formalization of the Institute via by-laws and an advisory board comprised of both internal ASU leadership and external tribal and non-tribal leadership. In her work at both ASU and prior, Morris has worked with Native American tribes; Tribal businesses; Native American non-profits; Native media makers, artists, and galleries; written a college-accredited curriculum in Native American new media; and has advocated for digital inclusion at the Federal Communications Commission and on Capitol Hill. Morris’s research and publications on Native American media and the digital divide is focused on Internet use, digital inclusion, network neutrality, digital and new media curriculums, digital inclusion and development of broadband networks in Indian Country. Her book, Native American Voices: A Reader, continues to be a primary teaching tool in colleges throughout the country. Dr. Morris is Affiliated Faculty at ASU's School for the Future of Innovation in Society, an Affiliate of ASU's Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology, a Senior Sustainability Scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, President of the Board of the Phoenix Indian Center, Board member of the Arizona American Indian Chamber of Commerce, and on the Advisory Council of the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums. Formerly, Morris served member of the Advisory Board for the Department of Labor's Native American Employment and Training Council and served a two-year appointment (2014-2016 and 2010-2012) on the Federal Communications Commission's Consumer Advisory Committee. As an entrepreneur prior to her ASU appointment, Morris founded Homahota Consulting LLC, a national Native American woman-owned professional services firm working in policy analysis, telecommunications, education, and research assisting tribes in their nation-building efforts and working with Native Nations, tribal businesses and those businesses working with tribes. Morris has an M. A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona’s American Indian Studies, in addition to a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Colorado State University.

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