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11/8/2005
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Native Americans Get Tech Help To Preserve Languages, Culture

The goal is to help narrow the digital divide: Native American households lag behind the national average for computer access by about 15 percent and are below on Internet access by nearly 20 percent, according to one tribal spokesman.

IBM and Career Communications Group are offering to help Native Americans preserve indigenous languages and cultures while providing demonstrations and training to narrow the digital divide.

IBM announced the effort, called Native American Family Technology Journey, last week. The companies will host classes and interactive demonstrations to show the full potential of computers and the Internet. IBM is donating computer labs to the Abenaki, a tribe in Swanton, Vt. Training and software will be offered to them as well as Native Americans in other rural areas, on tribal lands and in cities.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Native Americans are among those "falling through the digital divide."

Terry Braun, Seneca and national co-chair of Native American Family Technology, said in a prepared statement that Native American households lag behind the national average for computer access by about 15 percent. They lag behind on Internet access by nearly 20 percent, she said.

"It's clear that more has to be done to make Native American families aware of the advantages and opportunities that are associated with bringing technology into their lives," said Braun..

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