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Tribes Discuss Start of Tribal Internet Society

SANTA ANA, NM – The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) brought its community road trip to New Mexico to engage Tribes for the very first time. Representatives from Isleta, Acoma, Santa Ana, Santo Domingo, Laguna, Cochiti, San Filipe, Jemez, and Hopi, were joined by Native Public Media and other organizations at the Pueblo of Santa Ana to discuss the present and future of the Internet in Indian Country.

Tribal representatives stated that in addition to the Internet issues of Net Neutrality, safety, security, and reliability, bringing broadband into Tribal communities and connecting to robust Internet networks is a priority across Indian Country but a challenging one. All agree that it is time to establish a “Tribal Internet Society” that will foster inter-tribal conversations about strategies specifically to overcome barriers to digital inclusion.

According to Amerind Risk, event co-host, “Tribal Nations are building and operating their own broadband networks, or actively exploring that path, and it is very timely that Tribal Nations obtain a better understanding of how the Internet is governed, and the major issues that drive worldwide Internet governance.”

Dustin Phillips, IGF representative and co-director of the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Wiki, provided an introduction to how the Internet is governed worldwide, and how Tribal participation in Internet governance forums at the International level effects the state of Internet needs of Tribal Nations on a local level. The IGF is a global multi-stakeholder platform that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and works to inform the United Nations and others.

Currently, Native Public Media is the only U.S. Native organization that is officially an At-Large member of ICANN active in International Internet governance forums. Loris Taylor, President & CEO of Native Public Media finds the creation of a “Tribal Internet Society” a step in the right direction.

“The Internet is governed by international multi-stakeholders, and Tribal Nations need to rightfully take their place at the Internet governance policymaking table. The Internet has revolutionized the communications world like nothing before. It has the capability to broadcast worldwide and is the platform for collaboration and interaction between individuals and world communities without regard for geographic location. Locally, it is an infrastructure necessary to the health, governance, public safety, education, and economies of sovereign Tribal Nations.”

The establishment of the “Tribal Internet Society” and Tribal participation in the 2018 IGF conference will be discussed further at the June National Congress of American Indian’s Mid-Year Conference as part of the Telecommunications Subcommittee agenda.

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