The indigenous people of the Americas are no strangers to innovation and utilizing available resources to better their lives. You can see, in the pottery of the Southwest, how ideas were being shared and improved over time. I think that is why the 2017 International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums (the annual meeting of the Association for Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums or “ATALM”) in New Mexico had such a heavy representation from the digital inclusion community. Native American people have gone to great lengths to document and archive their culture; it seems second nature to adopt digital inclusion to connect their communities to this knowledge. Sharing culture is a deeply rooted value in Native American communities. You can see examples in the art that The Ancestors left behind such as the stories woven into the Zuni rugs or the images drawn on the Alutiiq bent wooden baskets.
The Internet has become an incredible tool for sharing and empowerment in our society. The struggle to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from putting the Standing Rock Sioux’s water in jeopardy of pollution was still very fresh in everyone’s minds at the conference. There is no question that #NoDAPL created a spark in the Native community. Tribes from all over the world came together to address the pipeline and its potential environmental impacts. People addressed native rights and the need for Water Protectors. Native heritage and Native culture were celebrated. This movement was started because people had access to the Internet and could see the impacts of the pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux. Here, only months after seeing the Facebook posts of tribal elders advising against the pipeline, and Instagram photos of tribesmen from the Amazon with #NoDAPL signs, it is no wonder digital inclusion is on the forefront of everyone’s mind. The importance of the work we are doing to connect the most rural tribal communities to these resources cannot be stated enough. These are precisely the people who, not only have the most to gain from access to the Internet but, they also have the most to share.