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Multi-Cultural Internet Access

May 15 10:30 am

Reported by William Hart

As in any discussion of physical communities, multi-cultural issues also need to be addressed when discussing telecommunities. Telecommunities are "communities of color" also. In the session on multi-cultural internet access three panel members addressed certain multi-cultural issues. The three panelists recognized that we are in the early phases of addressing these issues, but they still need to be dealt with.

Olivia Frost, Associate Dean and Professor at the University of Michigan School of Information and Library Studies, presented information on the Cultual Heritage Initiative for Community Outreach (CHICO) project. The CHICO project is a community information service initiative supported by the W.K. Kellog Foundations and based at the University of Michigan. The goals of CHICO are to broaden the reach of cultural heritage materials, empower communites to capture and disseminate cultural heritage, share with others in local and remote communities, and create an online learing community. Dr. Frost further presented information on CHICO pilot projects. The pilot projects were developed by SILS students along with professionals in museums, libraries, to help design services. The students designed, implemented , and evaluated system and services to increase access to cultural heritage materials. Three CHICO pilot projects were discussed, the Musical Heritage Network, a museum of art & a museum of archaeology project and a project with local public schools and libraries. The CHICO projects can be accessed at

Frank Blythe, the Executive Director of Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium, addressed the question: "what are native tribes doing with telecommunication?" Mr. Blythe addressed specifically the difficulties faced by Native American Tribes in the devolpment of telecommunities. Knowledge of computers and other technologies is the first stumbling block. Blythe noted that one Native American language computers are called "unknown monster." Tribal leaders want to use computer networking , but are cautious about having tribal inforamtion open for public consumption. There are many tribes taking the lead in setting up tribal telecommunities, but there is still many other tribes not addressing telecommunity issues. Blythe said the tribal leaders need to become more oriented toward the new media technology in order to benefit the tribes. Mr. Blythe can be reached via e-mail at

Randy Ross, a member of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma and an independent consultant on art, culture and technology, spoke the threat of communication privativization on native tribes and the United States, in general. Ross's main concern was that with the increased privatization of the electronic spectrum, there is going to be little space Native Americans and other similar groups. For other information see