Preserving our Mother Tongues Online
©2015 K. Whitney
Obstacles to Online Learning
Problems of Access for the Distadvantaged and Isolated
American Indians are some of the most economically disadvantaged groups in the United States, making Internet communications all the more difficult. Adding to these difficulties are the high cost of connectivity for those remote from even telephone connections, such as many reservation residents (Brescia and Daily 23-24; 25).
In 2011, Alaska was cited as having the highest rate of U.S. Internet usage, and the slowest connection speeds. Countrywide, only an estimated 10 percent of Native Nations have high speed broadband (Begich).
Unfortunately, we do not know just how bad the problem is because historically there has been little research on American Indian Internet use, adoption, and access (Capriccioso, "New Indian Country").
This is a problem not just for using the most efficient technlogy to revitalize our languages, but because a lack of effective connectivity stifles Native voices (Capriccioso, "Broken Connection")!
Lack of Progression from Technology Consumers to Educated Contributors
The number of American Indians pursuing a bachelor's degree in computer science is low compared both to our population and to other minorities. There is an American cultural discontinuity that forms an obstacle for us to do well in that type of field, as well as social and economic factors (Varma 137-138).
This makes it difficult for natives to move from being mere consumers to becoming an integral part of the technology contribution community.
Native communities may be resistant to technology because they fear it might distract children from traditions and family, that it has an homogenizing effect on native culture, and that it can change interpersonal relationships and dehumanize one another (Cruz 10).
It is necessary to engage native leadership in advocating for the adoption of Internet Communication Technologies in order for us to ensure not only our preservation of indigenous languages, but for our survivance.