New Media, Technology and Internet Use in Indian Country

Quantitative and Qualitative Analyses
  • By Traci Morris, Policy and Program Analyst, Native Public Media
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

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