Tribal Digital Village

Published in: GIA Reader, Vol 17, No 1 (Spring 2006)

Matthew R. Rantanen

The Southern California Tribal Chairmen's Association, using a three-year grant from Hewlett Packard in 2001, has created the Tribal Digital Village (TDV). Using a high-performance wireless backbone, the TDV project delivers wireless broadband to community centers, fire stations, sheriff substations, Tribal administration buildings, and Tribal libraries in-and-around eighteen tribal reservations. This long-distance, point-to-point, wireless system is ideally suited to the geographically diverse area that required coverage. It also facilitates an incredible leap forward in the technological resources available to these rural reservations. The TDV project provides cultural education, technical training, job placement, and other social services through its wireless community resource centers. However, the technology is cost-prohibitive for residential service on some of the reservations. In 2006 in the reservations it serves, TDV plans to begin extending broadband service and computer ownership to the residential level by using an intermediate distribution point, and it also plans to extend wireless "branches" to each household desiring Internet connections. Utilizing free, open source software on some of the reservations, TDV will be able to provide both Internet connection and multi-media services and applications to local residents for far less than proprietary systems cost. TDV has completed an audio/video recording studio that can be used by Tribal communities to generate cultural and educational content that will be served back to the Tribal community through the TDV web portal.

Matthew R. Rantanen is director of technology, Tribal Digital Village