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Native American Family Technology Journey to Help Weave Technology With Traditions

IBM and Career Communications Group Launch Public Awareness Initiative October 30th to Assist Native Americans in Closing the Digital Divide

ARMONK, NY - 28 Oct 2004: Weaving today's computer technology with Native American traditions is the centerpiece of the inaugural Native American Family Technology Journey (NAFTJ), a national public awareness program starting October 30th to encourage native people to consider the advantages and opportunities made possible by bringing computer technology into their daily lives.

The first of four NAFTJ events will be a technology workshop hosted by IBM and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian at the museum in New York City on October 30th. Native American children will collaborate on programming a robot and guiding it over an obstacle course designed to their specifications. At the same time, parents and other guests will attend a seminar highlighting the educational, career and other opportunities that can be leveraged by building technological skills.

A study released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, titled "Falling Through The Net: Defining The Digital Divide," found that Native Americans "rank far below the national average in their access to telephones, computers and the Internet... " At 26.8%, access to computers among rural Native American households lags behind the national average by more than 15%. Similarly, access to the Internet for Native American households overall at 18.9% also trails the national average.

Sponsored by IBM and Career Communications Group, NAFTJ coincides with National American Indian Heritage Month. The Journey includes career and educational seminars, interactive demonstrations and computer and Internet workshops that will offer Native Americans residing in urban centers, rural areas and on tribal lands technology access and training.

"As the world's largest information technology provider, IBM has the privilege of employing and doing business with people from virtually every background," said Bob Moffat, senior vice president, Integrated Supply Chain, IBM and a NAFTJ national co-chair. "Working with our employees, business partners and the leadership of American Indian communities, we've seen the possibilities of how technology can help preserve languages and traditions and enhance the educational and career opportunities for native people; and we are committed to doing everything we can to assist Native American families in participating more fully in the Digital Age."

NAFTJ will also highlight the role technology is playing in the preservation of native languages. Native American tribes seeking federal recognition by the U.S. government must have and still use a native language. More than 500 native languages exist, most of which are spoken rather than written. Storytelling is the means by which many elders pass native languages on to younger generations. IBM has been working with the Cherokee Nation to develop translation software and keyboard enablements that could assist tribes in preserving their languages.

Other Native American Family Technology Journey events include:
November 1st: Students from local middle schools will visit the University of North Carolina Pembroke to participate in a robotics experiment and develop technology presentations that they will share with their parents at a NAFTJ reception later that afternoon. They will also interact with Native American executives and IBM employee volunteers to learn about career opportunities in the IT industry.

November 6th: NAFTJ will partner with the nation of the Tohono O'odham people to host a technology fair at the Tohono O'odham Community College in Sells, Arizona, providing more than 200 people with computer training as well as instructions on navigating the Internet and accessing online information about educational grants and other key services.

November 18th: The Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, OK, will host a technology fair for approximately 100 people at Sequoyah High School, which will include demonstrations of the IBM translation software and keyboard. Parents will also receive computer instruction, attend workshops and learn about software that will allow them to access student grades, activities, upcoming events and other important information.

To learn more about the Native American Family Technology Journey, please visit www.nativeamericanfamilynet.net or call (410) 244-7101.

Contact(s) information

Karina Diehl Duart
IBM Media Relations
(305) 969-7318
kdiehld@us.ibm.com

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