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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA launches Web site geared toward American Indians

    Watching speeches from tribal leaders, connecting through video conferences and accessing research on American Indians is now made possible by a new UA sponsored Web site.

    ArizonaNativeNet was launched last week and has the goal of connecting the research and resources available at various academic programs at the UA with American Indian nations throughout Arizona and the U.S., said Robert Williams Jr., a UA law professor and director of the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program at the James E. Rogers College of Law.

    The site is also dedicated to nation building and the higher educational needs of American Indians.

    The Web site, arizonanativenet.com, contains breaking news, simulcasts and videotaped lectures, workshops and conferences, up-to-date research, and resources on American Indian governance, law, health, education, language and culture.

    The site is targeted to tribal leaders, policymakers, students, educators and the general public, Williams said.

    “”It can serve all audiences, from university students to high school teachers to tribal leaders,”” he said.

    It took more than a year to make the Web site, which was designed by a team of distinguished faculty, academic professionals, and information and technology specialists. It was made possible in part by a congressional grant.

    The creation and launch of the site has been a universitywide effort, Williams said.

    Two highly regarded UA Native American academic programs led the effort: the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy and the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program.

    The vice president for Research Native Programs Collaborative, an effort to improve university services and outreach to American Indian communities, has provided and contributed to much of the educational and distance-learning content on the site, Williams said.

    The site features a lecture series made up of scholars, experts, policymakers and tribal leaders brought to the UA by several academic programs on campus.

    The site also features a database that will include information on grants, research and outreach programs benefiting American Indians.

    Louellyn White, an American Indian studies graduate student, begin working on the site in January and said the best thing about it is that there will be an abundance of material available in one place.

    “”Tribal communities are often left behind when it comes to

    technology, information and research results,”” she said. “”(The site) will help them stay informed on the issues that effect their lives.””

    The digital divide may prevent many on the reservations from being able to regularly access the site, but Williams said many reservations have or will soon have such access.

    The committee that launched the site is also working on securing grants to help American Indian nations gain broadband access, Williams said.

    “”The Internet can be a tool of tribal sovereignty,”” he said. “”It can bring cutting edge research and information to the reservations.””

    Although other groups, such as rural communities, are in need of a similar online resource, the UA decided to target the American Indian community because UA has a national reputation for research in that area, Williams said.

    So far the Web site has gotten a positive response, with hits coming from on and off campus.

    “”It’s a great resource up and down. There’s really nothing like it anywhere in the world,”” Williams said.

    Ian Record of the Native Nations Institute agreed the Web site is the first of it’s kind.

    He said there were several entities on campus doing proactive work on American Indian issues, but said the work was not being communicated to the nations.

    “”The site addresses the unique challenges and unique circumstances of Native nations,”” he said. “”Ideally it will be a two way street with native communities speaking to the university.””

    Record said the Web site also has a goal of helping to recruit American Indian students and of improving their retention rates at the UA.

    The Web site is still being worked on, and Record said he envisions American Indian students one day being able to talk to their friends and family at home via

    videoconference.

    This will help with homesickness because many American Indians find the university atmosphere to be very different and sometimes overwhelming, he said.

    “”We want them to become more comfortable and to not feel so far away from home,”” he said.

    Another benefit of the videoconferencing would be that tribal leaders would be able to access the indigenous law faculty in real time, saving time and money.

    Record said the Web site will not just feature UA research and projects but will have the best research and resources on American Indians regardless of where it comes from.

    “”Knowledge will flow both ways,”” he said. “”It’ll be a hub for native people everywhere.””

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