ROCK, Ariz. - The Gates Foundation developed an advanced empire
on the Navajo Nation.
Nation President Ben Shelly said the connectivity of the Navajo
Nation chapters is a sign of the times.
are moving in a new direction and technology is uniting Navajo communities
with the rest of the world," Shelly said.
Mitchell, Navajo Nation Division of Community Development Director,
said Bill and Melinda Gates pulled Navajo chapters into the digital
Gates Foundation provided Navajo communities with technological
infrastructure most cities and towns take for granted," Mitchell
said. "Our Navajo chapters appreciate this major step into
the modern world."
houses are all connected on the wide area network of NNDCD, through
the millennium, chapters have served as community libraries and
received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
foundation makes grants in three program areas - Global Development,
Global Health, and the United States. For the United States, the
mission to improve education includes the focus area of U.S. Libraries,
via the Public Access Computer Hardware Upgrade Grant.
Nez, computer operations manager for the Navajo Nation Division
of Community Development, said chapter houses flourished with technological
advances in the last decade, thanks to the PACHUG funds.
May 2011, NNDCD closed out the support and sustainability grant
portion of the PACHUG, known as the closeout grant. An extension
was granted and budget modification completed in February 2010.
division closed out the funding with the creation of an online file
management system, SAS tracking system, and server hardware and
Gates Foundation's Native Americans Access to Technology program
funded NNDCD $6,632,615 since 2000 to provide chapter houses with
computers and Internet access. The foundation provided communities
with two to four computers per chapter house.
2000, the Gates Foundation has made several grants to the Navajo
Nation," Nez said. "The Division of Community Development
took on the responsibility for all these grants."
Gates Foundation has worked with 43 tribes in Arizona, Colorado,
New Mexico, and Utah to provide computers, peripherals, training
and technical support for a total investment in excess of $9.6 million,
according to a news release from the Gates Foundation.
Copeland, principal archaeologist for the Capital Improvement Office,
said the grants provided by the foundation have increased the knowledge
of technology at the community level.
the beginning, most of the chapters were afraid of computers. I
don't think they have that perception anymore," Copeland said.
and Copeland formed the Navajo Technology Empowerment Center in
March 2005 to utilize electronic solutions to provide support and
training to the chapters.
by principal information systems technician Sylvia Jordan and information
systems technician Roymond Willie, the NavTEC team laid the backbone
and improved information services over the years.
technicians joined the division when the Gates Foundation funded
the PACHUG Replacement Grant in 2006, which addressed the obsolescence
of the initial computers purchased in 2000.
we first began switching out the old computers with new ones through
the Gates Foundation, there were over 400 computers," Willie
the computers were a welcome addition to the chapters, Jordan said
the reality of many Navajo communities was finding funding to maintain
the systems. To address this issue, she trains chapter staff to
troubleshoot their computers and find free resources that meet their
going to be difficult to try and service 110 chapters but we do
the best we can," Jordan said. "It always feels good to
help our chapters because resources are low and they don't have
very many places to go."
II of the PACHUG created seven computer labs on the Navajo Nation,
with 10-12 computers at each location. With the completion of grant
funding from the Gates Foundation, NNDCD continues to seek grants
and other funds to sustain these programs that brought chapters
into the digital age.
next step is to continue working with the chapters. The division
has limited resources and we don't have these grants anymore,"
is working with chapters to transition the support for the PACHUG
devices. The division also continues to assist chapters with finding
free services available on the Internet.
said it's an opportunity for chapters to take responsibility and
ownership of the devices and find funds for upgrades and keep the
momentum in the public access effort.
long as we can get the chapters connected to the Internet, we have
some services available on the web," Nez said. "I guess
the term used these days is the cloud."
Internet-based, file services, chapters have created websites and
email addresses for chapter business. From the division, the Woven
Information Navajo Data System has provided chapters with a robust
set of tools and transparency that's unrivaled in the tribal hierarchy.
started doing some e-Government applications, which eventually became
known as the WIND System. It's a suite of web applications that
work together," Nez said.
WIND System allows chapters to do budgets online, plan infrastructure
and capital improvement projects, share information on Navajo Profiles,
and map their communities. It also includes rural addressing, project
authorization, project administration and the new SAS Tracker, which
tracks SAS packets in real time.
foresees a leap forward in progression once the broadband efforts
of Navajo Tribal Utility Authority are finalized.
forward, with the coming of all this fiber and wireless connectivity,
you know the applications are just going to grow," Nez said.