Tribal technology – Gates fund to help wire libraries

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is improving technology access for Indian tribes in the Southwest, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

The foundation’s Native American Access to Technology program will provide equipment and educational assistance to help tribes advance technologically.

For some tribes, that means access to the Internet – and for others, it means basic telephone lines.

Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico, which already has a computer lab, has qualified for a three-year, $175,476 grant to pay for four computers and networking equipment.

When grant program manager Jessica Dorr visited the Navajo Nation to assess its technology needs, she found the reservation lacked basic phone lines. 

Technology provided by the program will serve a variety of public users, including children, students, office workers and artists, Dorr told the Journal.

The only criteria for the grants are that tribes must want the technology, be willing to maintain it and have residents who are willing to learn to use it. 

Starting in New Mexico, the program will expand to aid all tribes in Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

The Native American initiative is part of the foundation’s $200 million program to boost tech resources for libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Microsoft Corp. has agreed to match those contributions by donating software to the libraries.

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