The COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges for people throughout the country, but it was especially apparent for educational efforts in tribal communities. For those learning on tribal lands, access to education and learning materials was made even more difficult due to 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 the first episode of the Government Technology Insider podcast, “Critical Communications in Tribal Communities” podcast, where 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, discussed 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:
Want to listen to Part 2 of our Tribal Communities’ podcast series? You can do that here.