Teachers and students celebrated as the last of 185 Bureau of Indian Affairs schools was hooked into the internet on Aug. 23.
“The last roadblock facing Indian children on the Information Superhighway was knocked down today,” Secretary of Interior Gale Norton said. “The president has told us to leave no child behind, and BIA, working with incredible partners, has turned that vision into a reality for teachers, students, and communities throughout Indian Country.”
About 50 students gathered around the computer at the Chichiltah/Jones Ranch Community School on the Navajo Reservation outside of Gallup, N.M.
“We quickly dialed up Disney World,” said Neal McCaleb, assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, who was at the school. “They’re getting around that monitor like bees around honey. … It was an excellent demonstration of bringing them things they only dream about right to their fingertips.”
The school was the last of four given internet access that week. The others were Winslow Dormitory, Winslow, Ariz.; Baca Community School, Prewitt, N.M.; and Jicarilla Dormitory, in Dulce, N.M.
BIA created the Across Native America project with the goal of bringing online all 185 elementary and secondary schools, serving 50,000 students, many in remote locations.
The U.S. Geological Survey provided engineering and networking expertise; Microsoft, Intel, and ProjectNeat provided hardware and software, and the universities of Texas and Kansas developed education content and training for teachers and students.
This past summer, 50 teachers from BIA schools received training at Laguna Pueblo through Intel’s “Teach to the Future” program. Each teacher will train at least 10 of their co-workers in how to connect technology with instruction.