Tribal communities across the United States were hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the health impacts on tribes was devastating, this was not the only challenge the pandemic bought to these communities. For those learning on tribal lands, access to education and learning materials was extremely challenging because of poor Internet connections or no Internet at all.
Despite these barriers, as well as existing cultural challenges, tribal communities were able to come together during the COVID-19 pandemic and partner with industry to deliver much needed learning materials to students during a very difficult time.
These were the key themes for a podcast hosted on our sister site, Government Technology Insider, on critical communications in tribal communities. Host, Matt Langan, was joined by Christie Abeyta, Assistant Principal at the Santa Fe Indian Middle School in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Francis Vigil, Tribal Education Specialist at the National Indian Education Association; and Anita Hart, Client Partner Federal, Tribal Team at Verizon, to discuss how tribal nations were able break down the educational digital divide with innovation.
“A huge part of what has been highlighted during this pandemic is the digital divide, which is systemic in nature and has been affecting Native American communities since the dawn of computers,” said Vigil. “When the pandemic hit quick and hard, we were not prepared, and now had to face the reality of an educational virtual setting. How could we collaborate and build infrastructure together? How were we going to solve this problem when the digital divide was so great?”
Listen to the full podcast below: