OIEP and BIA are giving operational responsibility for managing reservation schools to the tribes themselves, changing the government's role from direct program operations to coordination and technical support.

Finally, to help them achieve their goal of connecting 100 percent of schools to the Internet, OIEP received help from a friend. In August 1999, Global Commercial Foundation donated $100,000 in computer hardware - - hubs, servers, routers, and other equipment - - to help connect the 84 most schools in the most remote locations. Global Commercial Foundation, a non-profit organization, was formed to develop financial and commercial infrastructures for American Indians using technology transfer, education, and commercialization for sustainable growth in the world's marketplace. (The actual donation of equipment came to Global Commercial Foundation from Cabletron Systems of Herndon, Virginia, a $1.5 billion company that specializes in networking solutions.)

Thanks to this government/industry partnership, OIEP can finish the Internet link effort it began in 1997 when Microsoft Corporation made the first contribution to the 4Directions Project. That initial contribution of $350,000 in software, computers, and cash started the flow of rich new resources and powerful education and communication tools to the nation's American Indian children, teachers, and adults. Soon, all 185 BIA schools will be linked to the Internet, including the most isolated facilities located in areas where fewer than 48 percent of the communities have access to telephones.

BIA plans to sponsor its final Net Day event later this year at the Havasupai School at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. That event will mark the completion of the OIEP's Access Native America project, connecting all 185 of its schools.




Planning Today for Tomorrow's Technology

Even they achieve Internet connectivity, BIA, OIEP, and their partners are seeking new ways to enhance education through advanced technology. One such initiative, Multimedia Web Textbooks, was inspired by the Potawatami American Indian Bands in the United States and Canada which, over the years, have worked hard to save their language from extinction and to incorporate it into the high education standards of their classrooms. Their efforts got a recent boost from partnerships with the World Wide Web Consortium, worldwide disabilities organizations, and Vice President Gore's NPR. Together, they built the Potawatami Language Multimedia Web Textbook. It successfully supports a strongly oral language using all the multimedia capabilities of the Internet, and anyone who can "point-and-click" can use these lessons.

By joining forces to foster community solutions, BIA, OIEP, academia, and industry are readying American Indian schools and children for a 21st century education.

For more information, contact William Mehojah at (202) 208-6175 or visit:

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Office of Indian Education Programs

The 4Directions Project


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