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  • Internet for Native Peoples Conference Notes

    The Internet for Native Peoples conference took place on November 19 at U.C. Berkeley. Approximately 30 people attended from various different organizations around the Bay Area and California such as the South and Meso American Indian Rights Center (SAIIC), the American Indian Child Resource Center and the American Indian Dispute Resolution Center. The Student Kouncil of Intertribal National (SKINS), the American Indian student organization from San Francisco State University also sent a number of students.

    Marc Becker, a visiting scholar in Latin American Studies from Kansas, began the morning with a tour of the World-Wide Web. The tour actually lasted well into the afternoon due to the late start of the conference (the Berkeley/Stanford game used up most of the parking spaces). Most folks were fairly new to cyberspace so a warm-up period was needed. Judging from reactions, the tour made it possible to conceptualize how this technology could be used within each person's field.

    The afternoon session focused on the use of the internet for networking and discussion involved concerns about what utility a larger conference would have for the American Indian community at large.

    A main concern to folks was what use do people on reservations and living in other Third-World conditions have for this technology when most do not have access to it either because of cost or lack of telephone lines. A number of ideas on this point were thrown around but nothing was resolved. A larger conference would need to confront this issue and view it from the aspects of many different types of communities.

    One idea centered on the use of Internet as a strategy for political action, but concerns about privacy and government infiltration were expressed.

    All of these issues, and more would need to be discussed before the next conference in order to have them more focused for the actual conference.

    Despite all of the differences of opinions expressed a couple of concerns were shared by all.

    Because of the number of beginners, a larger conference would have to have some type of hands on training for people new to the Internet. This training would also include all the cyberspace jargon which gets loosely thrown around among frequent users.

    We appreciate those who were able to attend, your contributions in the discussion was very helpful. A special thanks goes to Kim Morris, a Native American Studies Student at U.C. Berkeley and owner of the Tribal Law Mailing List (inbox-triballaw@uclink2.berkeley.edu) for helping plan this conference. Another special thanks to Gary Trujillo for understanding the necessity of giving Native folks access to information on the Internet.

    Cristina Azocar

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