October 6, 2011

Committee Examines Internet Accessibility and E-Commerce in Native Communities

Washington D.C. –
U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, chaired an oversight hearing today on Internet Infrastructure in Native Communities: Equal Access to E-Commerce, Jobs and the Global Marketplace.
“Many Native people must make the difficult choice between staying home and connected to their cultures and communities or leaving home to pursue an education and economic opportunities,” said Chairman Akaka. “With the investments in the right internet infrastructure, we can close distances in ways never before possible. Native communities can utilize technology to create economic and educational opportunities and improve access to medical care at home where their cultures thrive.” 
Several reports, congressional hearings, and roundtables have highlighted the disparities in access to telecommunications in Native communities. These disparities are caused by factors such as geographic isolation and limited access to capital. Native Nations are still struggling to develop the infrastructure needed to close the digital divide in their communities.
Witnesses noted that without broadband internet access, Native communities cannot use technology to improve community safety, expand economic opportunity or increase public health and safety. Economic development activities, like internet gaming, government contracting, and information-based services, and other mainstream solutions, like telemedicine and online classes, require high-speed internet connectivity. Without improved infrastructure in Native communities, these activities and solutions cannot be implemented.
More information and an archived webcast is available on the committee’s website: LINK
Contact: Jesse Broder Van Dyke
Contact Phone: 202-224-7045