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Native American Family Technology Journey Seeks to Preserve Heritage Through Innovation and Encourage Internet Access Today


ARMONK, NY - 01 Nov 2005: While technology is hailed by many for its potential to advance today's society, Native Americans are encouraged by the promise it holds to help sustain languages and cultures several centuries old. The 2005 Native American Family Technology Journey (The Journey), launching on November 1, will offer Native People across the United States a chance to explore what technology and innovation can mean for their families as they embrace the full potential of the Internet.

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 "are not able to access the important information resources via computers and on the Internet that are quickly becoming essential for success."

"With studies indicating that access to computers among many Native American households lags behind the national average by 15% and access to the Internet by roughly 19%, 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 Terry Braun (Seneca Hawk), Director, Americas Solution Design Center, IBM Global Services and Native American Family Technology Journey national co-chair.

"The Journey is providing American Indian families with an opportunity to not just hear about technology, but also to experience it. I've seen children delight in constructing bridges out of steel on a computer, and adults marvel at how easily they can access information on the Internet. Technology can make a tremendous difference in the Native community. As we reach these young people, IBM is hoping to inspire them to not only learn about the benefits of technology but to also consider careers in technology," said Braun.

"We are truly honored to work with IBM and Career Communications Group on The Journey," said Marcella Perrano, a member of the Ramapough-Lenape nation and director of Title VII Indian Education. "We are very excited and believe that the events comprising this national initiative will provide a fun-filled learning experience for all of the participants. Our goal is to increase technical education and computer literacy among Native American Families, by assisting them in incorporating science and technology into their daily lives. With this in mind, it is our hope that these events will encourage our Native American students to pursue university degrees in science, technology and/or business."

Sponsored by IBM and Career Communications Group (CCG), The Journey will play host to computer and Internet workshops, educational and career seminars, and interactive demonstrations, which will provide Native Americans residing in urban centers, rural areas and on tribal lands technology access and training.

The Journey will also establish a forum in which Native people can learn more about technology's potential to help pass the languages, stories and customs that distinguish their tribes from one generation to another. IBM, for example, is partnering with the Indigenous Language Institute to establish a Language Materials Development Center that will assist various tribes in preserving, teaching and sharing their language.

The company has also developed the Native Keyboard Input Method Editor, which allows a user to switch from English to another language with a simple "hotkey" or command. In addition, IBM is partnering with the Abenaki Tribe in Swanton, Vermont to offer Native American families classes covering basic to intermediate computer skills, including Windows, the Internet, web page creation and using business productivity software. The classes will take place in the computer lab IBM gifted to the community.

At least 15 events will be held during the month of November, in cities ranging from Tucson, Arizona to Nenana, Alaska. 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
IBM Media Relations
(305) 374-4153
kdiehld@us.ibm.com

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