an Indigenous Approach on Bridging the Digital Divide

Linked with our presentation of KENNETH DEER – Mohawk Nation, Canada.

Linked also with our presentation of Mohawks pass into another millennium.

Towards an Indigenous Approach on Bridging the Digital Divide – A Roadmap to Tunis and beyond,
October 27th, 2003, by DEER Kenneth:

Project Description – Knowledge, information and communication are at the core of the emerging global Information Society. Knowledge, information and communication, however, are culturally defined concepts and expressions. Also, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) – the medium for disseminating and communicating knowledge and information – are cultural products of the society that has developed them.

Indigenous Peoples have their own concepts of knowledge, information and communication and have developed their own forms of information communication. Therefore Indigenous Peoples need to take part in the Information Society on their own terms and on the basis of their cultural backgrounds, to be able to shape their future without risking to lose their cultures and identities.

Indigenous research projects are an important tool to assist in reaching these goals. They can support the development of Indigenous approaches, strategies and visions for the evolution and implementation of the Information Society – and thus protecting and promoting its cultural diversity.

The project presented here, aims to contribute to this process by addressing four major aspects:

The identification and development of culturally appropriate ICT applications by Indigenous Peoples;

The elaboration of Indigenous approaches and strategies to bridge the digital divide;

The design of culturally appropriate capacity-building tools for Indigenous Peoples on ICTs and their range of possible uses;

The elaboration of culturally appropriate development strategies for utilization of ICTs for poverty reduction.

Before WSIS happened, on October 27th, 2003 he wrote the following statements:

Research is envisioned to be carried out in all cultural-geographic Indigenous regions, namely: the Arctic Region, Central America, South America, North America, the Pacific Region, Asia, Africa and Russia. Research activities will be conducted in various steps:

1. Development of models for culturally appropriate capacity-building and information “workshops” for Indigenous Peoples. These programs will be elaborated in close co-operation with Indigenous ICT experts and using Indigenous ICT experiences in this particular region. The workshops will serve to inform Indigenous Peoples on the basics of what are ICTs and how do they function as well as on the various possibilities of their application.

2. Conducting initial surveys during these workshops These workshops will be organised for each region in close co-operation with local Indigenous partners and organisations. They will also provide a platform to carry out first surveys among participants, supplemented by an analysis of workshop discussions, on the following issues:
the possible ICT needs of Indigenous Peoples of this regions
their views on cultural appropriateness of ICT applications
their views on culturally appropriate ways of equal participation in the Information Society on their own terms
local problems of connectivity
other obstacles towards participation in the Information Society, e.g. the question of literacy
their views on culturally appropriate strategies and approaches to overcome the digital divide in their regions.

3. In-depth surveys in selected communities The results of these initial surveys will be used as a starting point to carry out in-depth community surveys on the above mentioned issues. These surveys will be carried out in close collaboration with local Indigenous partners.

4. Elaboration of survey summaries The analysis and evaluation of these surveys will serve as a basis to identify:
preliminary strategies and visions of Indigenous Peoples of the various regions towards the evolution and implementation of the Information Society in their areas
perceived challenges and potentials of the developing Information Society with regard to the survival of their cultures and identities
approaches to the establishment of an equal partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous actors in the Information Society
Indigenous “plans of action” to bridge the digital divide in their regions on their own terms

Research activities will be presented during a Conference on “Indigenous Peoples and the Digital Divide”, which could take place as a parallel event to the Tunis part of the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005. This Conference should bring together Indigenous Peoples from the regions, who have participated in the workshops and/or the surveys, Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and the scientific community, Indigenous and non-Indigenous ICT experts and practitioners, Indigenous and non-Indigenous development practitioners, donors and the private sector. This conference should be a platform to identify a plan of action to be carried out beyond 2005 to assist Indigenous Peoples to bridge the digital divide on their own terms. (See this page).

Question: What has been realized? What is still to be done?

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