The Divide: James Clark on preserving Native American culture with broadband
Nicole Ferraro, Editor, Light Reading, 11/11/2021
This week on the podcast, we hear from James Clark, a fellow with the American Connection Corps (ACC), who is working with Mille Lacs Band tribal leadership to preserve his ancestors' Ojibwe language.
Clark, whose name in Ojibwe is Ozaawaanakwad, is one of 50 individuals tapped for a fellowship through ACC, a program spearheaded by Land O'Lakes and Lead for America that supports individuals seeking to improve broadband connectivity and digital inclusion in their communities.
"I was asked to be an ACC fellow, because my approach to broadband was very personal," said Clark, who is using his fellowship to establish Ojibwe language and cultural revitalization projects via Zoom.
That might sound easier said than done for a community like Mille Lacs, where Internet access can be hard to find.
"Home Internet access seems to be the biggest challenge just due to the terrains," said Clark. "All around, it's unfortunately just difficult to have good solid access, just because you may have to drive 20 minutes to one place just to get, you know, a bar of service, either on your phone or free public Wi-Fi."
We also discuss why he thinks satellite Internet might be an ideal solution for Native communities since it is less disruptive to the land than laying fiber.
"As a Native nation, we do take such care into where we place the materials, where we decide to dig up and and take out, because we don't see trees as obstacles, so to speak. We see them as relatives," he said.
To that point, Clark notes that what Indigenous people need when it comes to broadband is funding, and time to determine the best way to deploy it.
"A lot of the people, at least that I talked to, are really, really in favor of the infrastructure bill being passed, because that'll give money directly to the Native nations themselves," said Clark.
— Nicole Ferraro, site editor, Broadband World News; senior editor, global broadband coverage, Light Reading. Host of "The Divide" on the Light Reading Podcast
Here's where you can find episode links for 'The Divide,' Light Reading's podcast series featuring conversations with broadband providers and policymakers working to close the digital divide.
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