Key Issues in Realizing Tribal Benefits
                           from Internet Infrastructure


                                         by Frank Odasz

We've seen for years emphasis on Internet access as the holy grail for community empowerment, but careful analysis reveals that most access is grossly under-utilized, particularly for those applications producing the highest social and economic benefits. There's more education required than just technical training.

Conspicuously missing are proven strategies for creating motivated self-directed learners that understand how Internet collaborative tools can be used to 'build learning communities', to both mentor others, and to learn anything, from anywhere. Missing is the social process by which everyone shares the best resources they discover, and creates web-based local content relevant to local needs.

Missing is a structured training process that initiates and sustains motivation by delivering one small *fun success after another, resulting in producing motivated self-directed learners that know how to use the Internet to learn anything they want.

Free web tools, personal portal pages, and fast-track tutorials exist in profusion, from which the best-of-the-best needs to be gleaned by a partnership of locals, and corporate techies, for local use at the most measurably efficient levels possible. Internet hype from Top-down corporate initiatives have jaded citizens regarding what the Internet is, or can be.

The top-down builders of these networks need to partner in meaningful ways with the bottom-up intended users of these networks, as its at the bottom up level where the greatest innovation needs to take place, and this can only happen through direct participation of the bottom up folks. The bottom up folks will make heros out of the first corporations to do this by demonstrating authenticity of engagement and empowerment!

While AOL spends tens of millions hyping the message that the Internet is a shopping and chat service for consumers, there will be growing awareness by Internet users that the truth is closer to the Internet as an unlimited self-empowerment medium. Corporations might consider the merits of acknowledging that citizens can be BOTH consumers, and producers! Hewlett Packard's three digital villages represent a major corporate R+D initiative to learn how best to help communities *learn to invent!

It is inevitable that businesses will soon evolve focused on delivering true empowerment with emphasis on assisting citizens with productizing and marketing of the web-based content and services they themselves can learn to create. There is a trillion dollar hidden market for whoever can first deliver true empowerment to the six billion people who are likely to receive Internet access in our lifetime. The unlimited profit potential of a knowledge economy is detailed at

Bill Gates, in his book 'On the Road Ahead' states the three big money-makers for the next couple decades are entertainment, social services, and education. If you put these together, (my take on this) the future direction for individual and corporate economic sustainability is integration of "Fun, Social, Learning!!!" But, no one has yet invented the social processes that effectively kickstart this dynamic, from which motivated citizens will continue the wave of innovations based on their growing perception of new ways to meet local needs using the unlimited self-empowerment potential of the Internet's capabilities.

In just a few years, we'll look back on the above points as being overwhelmingly obvious, such is the nature of this very real "first to market opportunity." What you learn from citizens on an ongoing basis will become the basis for future product development. As users gain sophistication, they become 'ready' for higher and higher applications, and growing this 'readiness' will soon become the conscious goal of individuals, families, communities and nations.

Lone Eagle Consulting will continue to be a leader in this emerging field!

Lone Eagle's mission statement:
  Lone Eagle Consulting strives to maintain the small circle of the very best Internet
         learning pathways,  requiring the least time and effort, to deliver the highest levels of benefit
         and motivation for people of all cultures and literacy levels.

A Few First Tips on Recommendations for Effective "Fast-Track"
        Internet Awareness-raising Strategies for Tribal Leadership, and Tribal Members:

1. Conduct awareness raising presentations on Native American self-empowerment successes using the web, sponsored by local tribal leadership with the caveat that the local tribe needs to carefully review both the positive and negative potential impacts from using computers and Internet. Educate tribal leadership on Internet risks and benefits while acknowledging their leadership role for both values and pathways of communications within the tribe.

A few key issues to raise for both the positive and negative sides are:

1. Unlimited self-directed learning at minimal cost presents the opportunity for keeping current in a world of accelerating change

2. New local jobs are possible via Internet Ecommerce

3. The opportunity to teach about your culture and to empower other indigenous peoples, worldwide via Internet

4. The opportunity to bring distant family members closer together through economical and convenient sharing via email, Iphone, and other Internet collaborative tools

1. Potential access by tribal members to pornography, hate literature, drug making, bomb making, and other negative information. The only solution is supervision for those likely to misuse the Internet. An alternative to providing access to all resources on the Internet, is to create a safe local Intranet for local communications only.

2. Authenticity of information issues: whites posing as Native spiritual leaders, but icons of authenticity can be awarded to authorized sites by the tribe.

3. Note: Don't put any tribal or spiritual secrets on the web as Internet security is never assured.

2. Create a Tribal Internet Benefits Assessment Initiative
The only way to assess a longbow, is hands-on, the same is true for all Internet capabilities. Opportunities for hands-on assessment of all Internet capabilities will be required to understand what they really offer. Being too quick to judge without the benefit of thorough exploration will prove to be a serious mistake. Hence, opportunities for tribal members to learn, and to assess, Internet capabilities needs to become a tribal initiative, just like exploring new hunting grounds used to be.

Today, we're hunters and gatherers of ideas and information that can sustain the tribe. Not so different than former generations.

3. Post Best Examples for Local Review
Reviewing thoroughly the discoveries and applications of other tribes is a smart way to learn from the explorations of others and to avoid repeating the mistakes of others. The best applications can be posted locally on the web to inform tribal members on their best opportunities for benefiting from the Internet.

4. Share the best Skills via local mentoring, online and offline
Local web-based instruction can be created in a fun, social, format to help tribal members explore the potential for online peer mentoring, teaching, and learning.

Social recognition for those who support the learning and empowerment of others can be structured in a way that appropriately honors the successive skill sharing between both learners and teachers.


Community Internet Empowerment Resources for Native Americans and Alaska Natives

An Update on Native Internet Projects is at , containing grant templates, curriculum and a key vision essay "Echoes in the Electronic Wind."

An Executive Overview for Project Planners on the Hard Questions for Community Internet Empowerment

Beyond Traditional Vocational Education:
Best Practices for Use of Computers and Internet
for Native Communities

The Bootstrap Academy details citizen engagement strategies,

A detailed Alaskan village implementation plan is

The full listing of the best of Lone Eagle's resources for Building Cultural Learning Communities