Preserving our Mother Tongues Online
©2015 K. Whitney
Solutions & Recommendations
Preservation of our indigenous languages is most efficiently done through language education using modern Internet technologies and its multimodal capabilities (Cruz 4). In addition to building programs that teach and allow for conversational use, we need to ensure that native communities have access to the necessary tools, including connectivity, equipment, and basic instructions.
The Success Stories offer examples of language preservation that make use of Internet communication technologies, but what else can we do to overcome some of the obstacles to this online learning?
Connect the disadvantaged and isolated populations
Continue to roll out infrastructure:
Engage native leadership and place tribes at the center of the process of planning, digital regulation, and systems deployment. This should be the first step toward solutions to overcome the lack of communications technologies in tribal communities (Capriccioso, "New Indian Country").
Examine and reduce disparities in government funding of high-speed connectivity in rural areas. According to Hudson's research, there were major funding disparities between state "E-rate" subsidies (320).
Target the disadvantaged. A 2009 National Broadband Plan authorized $7 billion for broadband infrastructure for underserved and not-served areas (Capriccioso, "Broken Connection").
Provide digital literacy
Engage grassroots support of projects like EveryoneOn.org, aimed at eliminating the digital divide and providing high-speed Internet, equipment, and digital literacy to the underserved at a low cost.
Overcome cultural obstacles
Continue to engage native voices in technlogy. Cruz points to a study that suggests that technological empowerment comes when the minority populations moves from being a mere consumer of technology to becoming a producer (10-11).
One of Brescia and Daily's primary suggestions is to increase the number of Indian IT professionals working on Indian lands by having tribal colleges and universities ("TCUs") provide their students with computer training and support in order to allow them to obtain computer science degrees. If we apply survey results from Turtle Mountain Community College, we see that a substantial number of graduates return to the reservation and help improve their communities. An additional benefit is that TCUs is that they are also community centers, which means that connectivity is available there to the public (28).
Become technology contributors
Encourage more partnerships and education like the 2005 Native American Family Technology Journey that helps students consider the benefits of technology for native families ("Training and Opportunities").
Incorporate native values into the study of computer science in order to attract more native students to the field of computer science (Varma 140).