Tuesday, December 12, 2006

IITF ARCHIVE: Global Systems Selling Out Indigenous Knowledge - Forum (2003)

by Marty Logan

GENEVA, Dec 12 (IPS) - In one part of the northern Philippines, the naming of a child begins with a history ”lesson”.

Two weeks after he or she is born, village elders gather to select a name, a process that includes narrating the history of each family member, explains Minnie Degawan of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance.

Sharing that knowledge is a way to place the burden of responsibility for raising the child -- according to the qualities of his or her namesake -- on both the child's parents and the entire village.

”This is one example of how our community can speak knowledge,” says Degawan. And it is knowledge with responsibility, she asserts, much different from the information that today's ”wired” citizens can passively take from the Internet and other information and communications technologies (ICTs).

Today, that culture of knowledge and responsibility is threatened by attempts to commodify symbols and other traditional knowledge (TK), Degawan and other speakers told the Global Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society at the World Summit on the Information Society, which closed Friday in Geneva.

And the global copyright system designed to protect intellectual property does not help indigenous peoples, they added.

Much of Inuit culture was historically protected by customary law, said Violet Ford, a vice president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, which represents 155,000 Inuit people in Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Russia.

”Now it is in the 'public domain',” and governments say it does not require protection, she added.

Symbols such as the Inuit kayak, amauti (traditional women's coat) and Inukshuk (a pile of rocks used as a navigation marker) have been copied and used to sell myriad products. The Inukshuk, for example, now adorns the box of a product used to combat erectile dysfunction, said Ford.

But while the copyright system does not accept the concept of a group registering its traditional knowledge, more than 100 individuals and companies in Canada alone have applied for a copyright on the Inukshuk, she added.

”Without protection, Inuit culture will continue to be sought after as a commodityàdevalued and minimised.”

Indigenous peoples have long called for nations to establish 'sui generis', new and unique national systems to protect their traditional knowledge, but have made little headway.

The bodies that regulate copyright, including the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), are suggesting other solutions, including that indigenous peoples enter into contracts with those who wish to use their cultural symbols and other knowledge..

Violet Ford says that path is full of obstacles, particularly because many indigenous groups do not have much experience in contract law and would be at a disadvantage in negotiations.

”The current position of the Inuit is to work globally (to reform the copyright system) via WIPO,” she added.

A WIPO official says some indigenous groups have successfully completed contracts that protect their traditional knowledge.

”The point is to work out what elements of your culture are likely to be misused,” says Tony Taubman, head of WIPO's traditional knowledge division.

”Often it's the well-meaning academic researcher (who misuses TK). They see this as information in the public domain and want to report on it as an academic (exercise),” he added in an interview.

Taubman says he recognises that indigenous peoples are debating whether they should work within the existing system of copyright protection or insist on creating something unique, and that WIPO must do more to reach out to them to try and resolve the issue, as long as they are willing to cooperate.

Degawan is sure that she does not want to adhere to that system. For one, it would ”crystallise” her culture.

”Knowledge is not something that you own but is something that is developed over the ages, through practiceàyou have to share it because if you don't share it, it becomes static.”

”We need to inform the WIPO that what they have may be appropriate for them à but it is not appropriate for my culture,” Degawan added. (END/2003)

*Article source: http://ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=21517

Monday, November 6, 2006

Using ICTs to Achieve Growth and Development, 4-5 December, Geneva

The Expert Meeting in Support of the Implementation and Follow-up of WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) - organized jointly by UNCTAD, ILO and OECD - will be held on 4-5 December at the Palais des Nations, Geneva , starting 10:00. All NGOs are requested to check the requirements for participation here. For substantive questions about the Expert Meeting contact the UNCTAD ICT and E-business Branch.... For more information about the Expert Meeting, including nominations, participation and registration, please consult the official expert meeting website.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Relevant Meetings...

1.) WSIS implementation meetings UNESCO, 16-22 October, Paris and
As one of the facilitating agency for the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society, UNESCO organizes multi-stakeholder consultations on Access to Information and Knowledge, Ethical Dimension of the Information Society, E-Learning and
Media in Paris . Another consultation will be held on E-science in Beijing.

2.) 6-24 November 2006: ITU Plenipotentiary Conference ( Antalya , Turkey ) http://www.itu.int/plenipotentiary

Friday, October 6, 2006

Internet governance and global civil society

The United Nations Working Group on Internet Governance defines internet governance as "the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the internet." WGIG defined four key areas concerning internet governance.

For more information, see www.euractiv.com/en/infosociety/internet-governance/article-142724

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Beyond WSIS: Making a Difference Globally (2006)

A chapter within the new ITU/UNCTAD World Information Society Report 2006 focusing on WSIS implementation, including analysis based on the Stocktaking Database. The entire report is available here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Interim Portal Board Meets in Geneva

A sub-group of the International Indigenous ICT Task Force, this interim working group will meet to plan and implement the International Indigenous Portal. Facilitaing this meeting is the International Committee for the Indians of the Americas (Incomindios), which is an organization founded by Native Americans and Swiss citizens with the declared goal of assisting the native peoples of North, Central and South America morally and materially in their struggle for political, economic and cultural sovereignty.

Visit Incomindios at http://www.incomindios.ch/english/indexenglish.html

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


After two days of meetings in Malaysia involving over 700 experts from around the world, the United Nations initiative to foster information and communication technologies (ICT) in developing countries has established a framework for their activities.

The Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development adopted Tuesday the Kuala Lumpur Vision, outlining the principles of the Alliance’s future work.

Pledging to overcome the social and digital divides between developed and developing world, the Vision promotes policies and partnerships that can help create an “arc of digital opportunity.”

“The irony of the present situation is that those who are currently with the least access to technology are precisely the ones who would benefit the most if wonders of modern information and communication technologies become indeed accessible and relevant to all of humanity,” the document says.

“We must think big while remaining solidly rooted in the real needs of real people, communities and countries (and) put the problems and needs of the majority of humanity onto the ‘radar screens’ of thinkers, business executives and government decision-makers,” it states.

Proposed initiatives include creating a Cyber Development Corps, establishing resource centers to boost human capital, and setting up networks and working groups to promote outreach and partnership for action.

Launched on Monday in Kuala Lumpur by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, the Alliance aims to strengthen collaborations between the public and private sectors, expanding and replicating best practices and promoting solutions for early harvest.

The Alliance’s next move will be to establish a business plan. “We received a tremendous response from all continents and regions,” said Sarbuland Khan, Executive Coordinator of the Alliance’s Secretariat. “Ideas and objectives have now been put on the table, but need to be translated into meaningful action,” he added.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Inaugural Meeting of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development

Inaugural Meeting
Kuala Lumpur, 19-20 June 2006
Hosted by the Government of Malaysia

In a follow up to the recent decision of the Secretary-General (see press release), the inaugural meeting of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development was held on 19-20 June 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia following a generous invitation by the Government of Malaysia.

Monday, May 22, 2006

IITF Side Event at Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 2006

"Indigenous Peoples and the WSIS: Towards International Indigenous Connectivity"
Tuesday, 23 May 2006, Conference Room 3

1:15 p.m.-2:45 p.m.

"A follow up on the work accomplished at WSIS in Tunisia as well as a discussion of post-WSIS follow-up. Reports on Indigenous Connectivity in the Americas and on the
creation of an international indigenous portal."

Invited Speakers:

Kenneth Deer (Post-WSIS)
Tarcila Rivera (Americas connectivity)
Anne-Kristin Håkansson (IITF & Portal)
Joe Shirley (Update on ITU Office)
Dan Hughes (Govt support of ICT Issues)

International Indigenous ICT Task force

Co-Sponser: Government of Canada and Government of Sweden

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

World Information Society Day: May 17 May 2006

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in November 2005, adopted the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, which recognized that there is a need to build more awareness of the Internet. It specifically called upon the declaration of May 17th as World Information Society Day; the annual observance was officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly. This Day will help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information communications technologies (ICTs) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide. The theme for 2006 is "promoting global cybersecurity". More information.


From on-line banking to the benefits of telemedicine, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the world community to enhance global
security in cyberspace so as to realize the full potential of information and communication technologies (ICT) and accelerate the pace of development.

“In an increasingly interconnected and networked world, it has become critically important to safeguard our vital systems and infrastructures against attack by cybercriminals, while instilling confidence in online transactions in order to promote trade, commerce, banking, telemedicine, e-government and a host of other e-applications,” he said in a message marking the first World Information Society

“As this depends on the security practices of each and every networked country, business and citizen, we need to develop a global culture of cybersecurity,” he

He called on all Member States and stakeholders to help increase global awareness of cybersecurity, and to develop an international network of initiatives and
ICT-based countermeasures to enhance security and build trust in the use of information and communication technologies.

“This is essential for the continued growth and development of our economies, and especially important for developing countries,” Mr. Annan said.

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005, decided to mark the Day in recognition of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the world’s oldest international organization, which was founded on 17 May 1865 and is now a UN specialized agency.

Monday, April 24, 2006

IITF ARCHIVE: Digital Divides and the New Information Colonialism, Indigenous Peoples at WSIS

Interview with Mohawk journalist Kenneth Deer - August 12, 2003

The information society is being colonized by developed countries and we have a great fear that our intellectual knowledge is being harvested through the information society. That's a big fear for indigenous peoples. As we learn how to use the information systems and as we put our knowledge in there, our stories, our history, etc. The big fear is that the developed countries, corporations, pharmaceuticals, etc. are going to harvest our information for their own gain, and we'll again be left out without the benefits of having shared this knowledge.

- Kenneth Deer commenting on the Information Society

The upcoming World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) poses a distinct set of problems for the world's indigenous peoples. The Information Warfare Monitor recently interviewed Kenneth Deer of the Indigenous Media Network (IMN) and the editor of The Eastern Door, on the subject of how indigenous communities are confronting the unique challenges posed by ICTs and the growing digital divide.

Konstantin Kilibarda (KK): Can you give us some background information on your organization and its involvement in the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)?

Kenneth Deer (KD): The Indigenous Media Network is an organization of indigenous journalists from around the world. It's still a fledgling, a very young organization, which was created really at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues last year, in 2002. The object was to try to link indigenous peoples from around the world, to make sure that we could share experiences, share stories, etc. When we found out about WSIS - we didn't really, none of us knew about it, surprisingly - or I shouldn't be surprised I guess. Lots of indigenous people didn't know about WSIS and what we wanted to do, as people involved in media who are therefore very much involved in the information society, we felt that we had to say something, we had to produce something to present to WSIS. We realized that there was not very much indigenous participation in PrepCom-1 and PrepCom-2, and we needed to increase our participation. That�s why we got ourselves together to try to do something for WSIS. I tried, myself personally, through my own newspaper The Eastern Door and through the Indigenous Media Network to get to PrepCom-2, but we were denied funding. That was I think a big setback.

KK: I was reading about Wayne Lord recently, who's involved in this issue apparently in the name of indigenous peoples here in Canada

KD: Well, Wayne Lord is government. Let me explain Wayne Lord to you. He works for the Canadian government in the Department of Foreign Affairs. I think he's a director and his field is indigenous issues. He, himself, is indigenous. He says he's Metis. So he always carries the Canadian government flag in this issue. However, at the same time, he's also a member of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. He's a government representative on there which when you are there, you're supposed to be there as an independent expert. So his independence is somewhat compromised. So when you listen to Wayne Lord talk, or if you ever talk to him, you should make clear what hat he's wearing. Now, because Wayne Lord has this position with the Canadian government and the Canadian government has a big part to play in WSIS they are taking the lead in the creation of an extra event called, I think they're calling it the Global Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society.

KK: They're creating this?

KD: Well this is the curious part. They are pushing for this because they know that indigenous people don't have enough participation. So this was at first supposed to be a side event, but now it has been elevated by WSIS to an official event. Now the Canadian government is going to contribute C$ 200,000, the city of Geneva is supposed to commit 200,000 Swiss Francs and other governments will be contributing to the Forum as well perhaps Australia, Finland, you know, some of the Scandinavian countries, etc. But the governments know, however, that if there is going to be a Global Forum on Indigenous People it cannot be governments that are running it, it has to be indigenous peoples. So they're scrambling now to get somebody to take ownership of this forum to organize it and to run it. Right now, I think, it's going to be the Secretariat for the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which Wayne Lord is a member of. Now I have no objection to that. It's just as good a body as any that can do this. The Secretariat is brand-new, they're only less than a year old and this is a big project to handle. I hope they can do it well. So I support their work. So when you see Wayne Lord's name though

KK: Is there a concern then that the process will be controlled by governments in this case, or that there will be an attempt to co-opt whatever comes out of such a Global Forum?

KD: Well, its pretty clear that generally who pays the piper calls the tune. It all depends on what's going to happen in terms of what kind of board or supervising entity will be set up to run this Global Forum. We want to make sure that there is a lot of indigenous input into this global forum and we hope that as an indigenous person I support the Global Forum. It's an interesting idea and I think that we can do some creative stuff with this, as long as the government gives us the money and lets us do it. I can understand that some of the governments because they're contributing want to have some they won't have any say in the Forum itself, in the political forum but they will want to display in the event, during the event, what governments are doing for indigenous peoples. For instance, Canada will want to display its Indigenous Portal that it has. I have no objection to that if governments want to say, Well look, this is what we're doing for indigenous peoples. I have no problem with that, because it will be informative. The important part of the forum will be to have as many indigenous people as possible in Geneva to attend. Hopefully, the high majority of the budget will be used for travel. So we would like to get as many as one-hundred indigenous people there. Not only participants, but also we need panelists, speakers, and also some demonstrators. People who can demonstrate as well what indigenous people are doing in the field of the information society. They can show good use of their radio stations, or their TV stations, whatever. I would personally like to see a demonstration of indigenous communications. In our case we communicated through wampums, you know runners carrying wampums giving messages and sharing information. Also story-telling is a big part of indigenous information sharing. And other indigenous peoples have different ways and different forms of communication that I'd love to see being demonstrated.

KK: Just staying on the Canadian level, I was curious to know - since there have been tensions between the Canadian government and indigenous peoples, and within indigenous communities themselves, over the First Nations Governance Act (FNGA) - if those tensions have played out in preparations for WSIS?

KD: No. Well first of all there's been very little preparation. There has been very little contact. I haven't experienced any tensions though, and I don't intend to bring up that issue (laughing). I think it may remember the Global Forum will have political meetings. Indigenous people from around the world will be there to meet and they will come up with a declaration. What will be in that declaration I can't predict. But I think domestic issues tend to take second place to really the global issues. So I don't expect FNGA to play a big part in this.

KK: Why do you think then that at a global level indigenous people are mobilizing for WSIS? What do indigenous activists or at least your group feel is at stake in Geneva?

KD: Well first of all we're still informing people about WSIS. You know 99% of indigenous people don't even know that this is going to take place. We're dealing with the 1% and we're trying to educate the other 99% and it's very difficult because a lot of indigenous people are on the wrong side of the digital divide. I think that divide is going to be a big part of the whole discussion. How to close the gap between people who have broad access to the information society and those that don't. So its hard to get people who are on the wrong side of the digital divide well represented in a world conference that is taking place on the right side well not to say the right side but on the developed side of the digital divide. It seems to be that that's a big problem. Another problem is the lack of communication that exists between developed countries and non-developed areas. Even non-developed areas in developed countries. Take for instance a developed country like Finland, or Sweden and Norway, who have large and vast areas of land that are inhabited by indigenous reindeer herders who may or may not be plugged into these technologies. We don't know, we're trying to find out you know about the Masai in Africa, or the Mayans in Central America. There are so many questions and you know WSIS isn't going to be the end. WSIS is going to be the beginning. We're looking at this as a stepping stone to 2005, to Tunis and beyond.

KK: Can you maybe give us a description and you've touched on this somewhat but how do current IT trends impact the lives of indigenous peoples? What do you think needs to change in order for this situation as you described it to improve?

KD: We look at it, the way I look at it anyway, is that ICTs, the information society has its own culture. That culture is enveloping and its difficult for indigenous people to have an impact on it. We have to impact that information society, because that information society - It's like colonialism. The information society is being colonized by developed countries and we have a great fear that our intellectual knowledge is being harvested through the information society. That's a big fear for indigenous peoples. As we learn how to use the information systems and as we put our knowledge in there, our stories, our history, etc. The big fear is that the developed countries, corporations, pharmaceuticals, etc. are going to harvest our information for their own gain, and we'll again be left out without the benefits of having shared this knowledge. People want us indigenous people are under a lot of pressure to share their knowledge. But indigenous people, most of the time, don't benefit from that sharing. It's just the big multinationals that will. They benefit form our discoveries you know and they're the ones that make the money.

KK: Along a similar vein, in preparations for WSIS, people have brought up the issue of languages on the Internet and the issue of English language predominance. There seem to be some initiatives from some European countries to break that down in order to promote cultural diversity. Are there specific initiatives in regards to indigenous languages, which are particularly endangered? It seems that so far the initiative for linguistic diversity is coming from other hegemonic or colonial languages, like French or Spanish

KD: Well, like I said, the culture of the information society itself is all enveloping and we're being absorbed into that as well and we have to push back. I think indigenous peoples are trying to find ways of using modern technology to save their languages. Here in my community, we have Mohawk lessons burned on CDs, we try to have Mohawk lessons on the radio, etc. We're using in our won small way, different parts of the information society to protect and save our language. The Internet is a whole different animal. It's very, very difficult. Some languages are still not written. If you can't write them, how can you put them onto the Internet? Furthermore, how do you use the Internet for individuals that are still illiterate for instance. And these are problems that are going to be on our agenda, you know. What are the problems of literacy and language? I can't predict the conclusions people will come to, but those are our major issues.

KK: It seems that some institutions, NGOs, etc. are offering up IT as a panacea for so-called Third and Fourth World development problems. Other people are taking about other issues like the ones you mentioned, i.e. literacy. Are there other concerns on the table?

KD: Well I guess a major issue is access. Especially in isolated areas where phone-lines are a luxury, they're not a facet of life. I guess you have to find ways to use satellite or other ways of communication. If indigenous peoples really want to plug-into the information society this will have to be addressed. But that's a big if, maybe they don't want to plug in.

KK: How appropriate are commercial technologies - which are tailored more to the needs of profit than human-societies - in terms of solving these problems?

KD: Well, I think that the material, the technologies that are produced in the developed world are usually made for the developed world. They're not really made for people on the other side of the digital divide where most people don't have access to phone-lines. What can you do in that case, it's not appropriate at all. An IBM computer in the middle of the jungle is useless. There's no electricity, no telephone line, it has absolutely no value.

KK: As an aside, I was wondering if you heard of the appropriate technology movement? I guess in places like Brazil and India they've been developing low-tech IT solutions.

KD: Yeah, like the Simputer from India. I'm not an expert on it though (laughs) I'm a newspaper guy after all.

KK: Geneva may be, at least, a good opportunity to network with some of the people working on this.

KD: That is why we have to bring as many indigenous people as we can, so that they can see what's there and see what's going to be shown at WSIS and see if it can be applied back home. That's a very, very important part of bringing people to Geneva. It's also a learning experience for them.

KK: What is the preferred outcome then for indigenous peoples at the upcoming talks? Are there any issues that are dividing indigenous peoples in the preparations?

KD: The preferred outcome, of course - I think - would be to have indigenous people get the capacity to have an impact on the information society. That they can be able to have their culture, their languages, impacting the information society and figuring out how they're going to do that. To have the capacity to have an impact on the information society and to use the information society for their needs - not for the needs of the developed world but for their own needs. That's what you want to have. It has to be useful to them, and right now it's not - at least not in a major way. In some ways the technologies are useful but that's the problem with the term information society it's such a broad term. It doesn't mean just the Internet, it means newspapers like mine, or radio stations, TV stations, burning CDs, etc. I remember indigenous people from the South asking me how to set up a radio station. For them the best means of communication, for instance in the jungle or in the Andes, is a radio station. You don't need a lot of technology. For a modern radio station you just need a little box, an antenna and a generator, a microphone and you can broadcast. Everyone can get a radio and they can broadcast in their own languages. It's the simplest thing. To many that's high tech.

KK: If I'm not mistaken, there will be groups talking about community radio networks at the upcoming talks? I know when I visited Ecuador, community radio networks were a huge thing, and I know in Venezuela people have been setting up community radio networks to undermine the hegemony of corporate media conglomerates in the Andes.

KD: Right. And now one of the issues that is going to come up at WSIS is the issue of frequencies. Governments have to allow space, frequencies, for indigenous views, because states use that to stop indigenous people from having their own radio stations. And that's a big problem, which is going to be something the governments will have to deal with, that they have to recognize. Indigenous people need greater access to radio-waves, to these frequencies.

In terms of your other question What will divide indigenous people? I don't know (laughing) I don't want to say anything that will create a division. Indigenous peoples have a lot of solidarity, we have similar problems. We've all been colonized, we've all been removed from our land and our natural resources and in most cases we're not benefiting. A lot of people look at the information society, like they do at globalization, as the new colonialism. Globalization and the information society are seen as part of that colonial process. We have a lot of solidarity, so I'm not looking for divisions. Actually, I'm looking for a lot of solidarity.

KK: How can interested non-indigenous individuals and organizations lend their solidarity to initiatives of indigenous peoples?

KD: Well I think non-indigenous peoples have their own democracies (laughing) however you want to describe them; and they should be using those to help indigenous peoples. Like the whole issue of frequencies and also the issue of helping monetarily so that indigenous people can have the resources to plug into the information society (should they want to). Indigenous people should have that option after all. They shouldn't be forced to plug-in, but they should be able to have the same type of access that most people in developed countries take for granted if they want it, and indigenous peoples in most countries don't. I think non-indigenous people have to be able to support indigenous peoples and try to influence their governments and multinational companies, etc. to respect the rights of and assist indigenous peoples as much as they can.

Article Source: http://www.infowar-monitor.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=soundbyte&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=6&page=1

Thursday, April 13, 2006

ICT Related Events

Executive masters in e-governance Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne 2006/2007, Lausanne, Switzerland
Application Deadline: 31 May 2006
This international programme is conducted in collaboration with highlyrenowned partners and prestigious institutions worldwide, withresidential classroom modules in Switzerland , Europe , North Americaand Asia. The dynamic and forward-looking executive educationprogramme will sharpen your leadership competencies and equip you withthe essential skills in effective ICT application and management in afast-changing networked world. For more information, visithttp://egov.epfl.ch

9th International Conference on Interactive Computer-aided Learning
27- 29 September 2006, Villach, Austria
Application Deadline: 19 May 2006
This interdisciplinary conference aims to focus on the exchange ofrelevant trends and research results as well as the presentation ofpractical experiences gained while developing and testing elements ofinteractive computer-aided learning. For more information, visit

Thursday, March 16, 2006

MODERN TECHNOLOGY: Vast Navajo nation connects communities via Web

By Marty Logan
Updated Dec 6, 2005, 11:32 pm

TUNIS (IPS/GIN) - The Indigenous Navajo people of the southwestern United States are now using the Internet to reconnect to their traditional culture and help improve their communities.

“We used to have a hard time building infrastructure to support economic and community development,” said Ernest Franklin Jr., from the Navajo Nation. That was partly because information about the Navajo Nation’s resources would not be passed on to new leaders of the huge Navajo territory, he told IPS.

What they needed to change that trend, tribal leaders decided, was a communications system to link more than 200,000 people in 110 communities scattered over 27,000 square miles.

“We knew that, if we were to establish a fiber optic cable, it would never get done because of all the red tape of working with the government,” Mr. Franklin said. “But after renting space on a satellite, we were able to hook up all the communities in three months. Then, we created 110 websites—that’s how people learned how to develop their communities.”

The Navajo used the websites to first provide information about planning and community development, which in turn led locals to draw up inventories of resources like land, water, roads and power lines, and finally to draft local governance laws that would empower individual communities to take the lead in rebuilding their lives.
Today, 20 Navajo communities have adopted land-use plans, and 30 more are in progress, Mr. Franklin noted.

“Now, we have communities that are more sustainable, and the people are very proud because they are building them themselves,” he added. “The U.S. government always used to come in and say ‘here’s housing’ or ‘here’s corn, you don’t need to grow your own’—and that created slums and dependence and made people lose respect for themselves and their communities. We want to get back to being self-sustaining.”
To ensure that the information age is not just a passing fad, the Navajo have equipped their 110 community centers with computers and broadband Internet access. High school students on hand to help users are known as “Web Warriors.”

On Nov. 17, the Navajo Nation went global, signing a deal with the WSIS organizer, the United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU), that will enable it to spread—what is now known as—“The Navajo Model” to other communities where the roughly 350 million Indigenous people live, starting with Brazil.

Indigenous people are often described as the “poorest of the poor,” and the description holds true for their access to the Internet and other resources developed by the information society. Before the project started five years ago, only 22 percent of the Navajo Nation’s population had access to telephones, 15 percent to computers and 10 percent to the Internet—and that’s in one of the world’s richest countries. The project is now getting people connected fast.

After WSIS I in Geneva in 2003, a group of Indigenous people identified obstacles and challenges to their peoples’ equitable participation in the Information Age. These included poverty, which reduces access to the Internet; fear that the new technologies would force them to conform to one model of living; lack of money to pay the high costs of training; and a shortfall of computer software in Indigenous languages.

A project being endorsed by the Indigenous Caucus in the United States could answer some of those fears. An Aboriginal portal would be set up, “where anyone who wanted to deal with anything Indigenous or learn about anything Indigenous could go,” Indigenous Caucus co-chair Kenneth Deer told IPS.

A portal is an Internet site that typically includes a list of websites on a related topic, along with a search engine. Two such portals exist on Indigenous people’s issues, but governments (Canada and Australia) operate them, pointed out Mr. Deer, a member of the Mohawk nation from Canada.

The proposed international portal would be Indigenous-owned and operated, hosted at a central location, but with support from each of the world’s regions. It could also offer content in local languages (of which roughly 200 exist in the United States alone, though most of them are dying).

Money is the biggest challenge to making it work. “Before this, the problem was one of lack of expertise,” said Mr. Deer. “What we need now is secure funding for at least three to five years.”

Navajo engineers are helping to run the ITU’s television service at the WSIS. “A lot of Indigenous people are scared of technology because they think it’s going to run their lives,” Mr. Franklin said.

But he pointed out that the Navajo have long adopted technologies such as rug-making and silver-smithing, and are now world-renowned practitioners of those arts. “We didn’t invent the Internet, but we brought it into our communities, and are using it to make them stronger.”

© Copyright 2007 FCN Publishing, FinalCall.com

Saturday, February 25, 2006

WSIS Follow-up Conference Held in Copenhagen February 2006

The World Federation of United Nations Associations Task Force on WSIS & The Danish Network on WSIS organized a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 21-22, 2006 to follow up on the World Summit on the Information Society, which concluded on November 18, 2005 with an agreement among world leaders on ambitious objectives and promises for the future Information Society. The conference, called "Where to go from Tunis? Implementation of and follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society and the role of Civil Society in this process," evaluated the results of the WSIS process and took stock of what impact the summit can have on global development in general, and more specifically on the future of the Information Society, particularly from a civil society perspective. The event presented keynote speeches and workshops focused on four concrete issues and approaches, including one on "Human Rights and ICT's." More information.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Composition of IITF

Indigenous participation in the International Indigenous ICT Task Force (IITF) will consist of four (4) members from each of the world regions as recognized by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for a total of twenty-eight (28) members, as follows:

· Africa

· Asia

· North America

· Central/South America

. Caribbean

· Pacific

· Former USSR and Eastern Europe

· Arctic

Friday, February 17, 2006

Mandate and Objectives of the IITF

Mandate of the IITF:

The IITF was set up by the Indigenous Caucus at the Tunis Summit as an Indigenous mechanism for follow-up the WSIS work.

The work of the IITF will be based on the WSIS-related documents, that is those developed by Indigenous Peoples themselves and those adopted by Governments in the Summit proceedings.

The IITF will actively seek to inform Indigenous Peoples on a broad scale on the WSIS process and its follow-up.

The IITF will actively seek partnerships with Governments, UN agencies and NGOs to work on common projects related to the Information Society, and particularly with the goal to prepare for a Global Indigenous ICT Forum in 2007.

The core objectives of the International Indigenous ICT Task Force for the fiscal years 2006-07 are to continue the WSIS work, and particularly the work that has been done in Tunis in the following ways:

- Fundraising to host a Global Indigenous ICT Forum no later than November 2007

- Informing Indigenous Peoples on the WSIS process and its follow-up and ensuring a broad Indigenous involvement

- Raising awareness among Indigenous Peoples about the challenges and opportunities posed by the evolving Information Society, particularly with a view to promoting cultural diversity, strengthening Indigenous cultures and identities and to issues related to unauthorized use, appropriation and exploitation of traditional knowledge

- Developing an international Indigenous Portal

- Elaborating a draft for a Tunis e-strategy to be discussed and adopted at the Global Indigenous ICT Forum

- Finding possibilities for carrying out ICT capacity-building for Indigenous Peoples

- Promoting the development of national and international partnerships

- Promoting the establishment of working groups within the IICTF to deal with issues related to the Information Society and ICT utilization

In order to achieve these core objectives, the International Indigenous ICT Task Force will need to:

- Identify funding requirements;
*fund-raising efforts at the local, national, regional and international levels should commence immediately

- Recruit partners and participants;
* efforts to recruit partners and participants at the local, national, regional and international levels should commence immediately

- Foster international awareness of the needs and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples with a view to ICTs and connectivity

- Foster and form partnerships and collaborations between Indigenous Peoples and government departments, United Nations agencies, NGOs, the academic community and the private sector in relation to meeting the indigenous outcomes of WSIS.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Indigenous ICT Task Force

The International Indigenous ICT Task Force was born in the context of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

WSIS was the first United Nations Summit that was convened in two phases. WSIS(1) took place from 10-12 December 2003 in Geneva and WSIS(2) from 16 to 18 November 2005 in Tunis.

Generally, WSIS aimed to ensure that the benefits of the Information Society, and particularly the Internet, are accessible to all while promoting specific advantages in areas such as e-commerce, e-governance, e-health, education, literacy, cultural diversity, gender equality, sustainable development and environmental protection.

Indigenous Peoples were involved in both WSIS phases. A small international Indigenous delegation under the umbrella of the Indigenous Media Network participated in a number of preparatory meetings to voice Indigenous concerns and aspirations, to work towards including them in the final Summit documents and to establish Indigenous Peoples as a stakeholder in the evolution of the Information Society. The Geneva and Tunis Summits themselves were accompanied by two larger parallel events on Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society, enabling a number of Indigenous representatives to become involved into the political WSIS process.

Due to the efforts of Indigenous Peoples, a special “Indigenous paragraph” was included in the Geneva WSIS Declaration of Principles (Art.15) and the Tunis Commitment (Art.22):

“In the evolution of the Information Society, particular attention must be given to the special situation of Indigenous peoples, as well as to the preservation of their heritage and their cultural legacy.”

This paragraph establishes Indigenous Peoples as a stakeholder in the WSIS process, its implementation and follow-up.

At the Tunisia phase of WSIS Indigenous delegates agreed to establish an Indigenous ICT Taskforce to continue the work of WSIS from an Indigenous point of view.

Cultural diversity in the Information Society, respect for and protection of traditional knowledge, the strengthening of Indigenous cultures and identities through ICTs and Indigenous connectivity should continue to be a focus for discussions at any number of international gatherings, including, but not limited to, the UN Permanent Forum, the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, and the Summit of the Americas.

A "Terms of Reference" was developed by the IITF to seek to guide the formulation of the international Indigenous ICT agenda, through communications which are open, transparent and culturally appropriate.

It should be understood by all parties that the issues related to participation of Indigenous Peoples in the Information Society and of Indigenous connectivity are still evolving. The Terms of Reference should therefore be viewed as a “work in progress” as further research, dialogues, policies and partnerships are developed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

WSIS Golden Book Submission by IITF: Stakeholder Commitments and Initiatives

Organisation name- Indigenous ICT Task Force (IITF)
Country- International
Organisation website-
Organisation type- Civil Society

Contact person for media interviews-
Family name: Nobrega
First name: Malia
Address: 2847 Waialae Ave #509 Honolulu, HI 96826
email: malianob@aol.com
telephone: (808) 286-5461

Except from Golden Book Description:

In December 2003, the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was held in Geneva to ensure that these benefits are accessible to all while promoting specific advantages in areas such as e-commerce, e-governance, e-health, education, literacy,
cultural diversity, gender equality, sustainable development and environmental protection.

Also in December 2003, the Government of Canada and the Aboriginal Canada Portal and Connectivity Working Group, in cooperation with Indigenous peoples, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and other UN Agencies, a number of member states and our Swiss and City of Geneva hosts, helped organize the Global Forum of Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society.

The Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues prepared a report on the Global Forum of Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society, which is available (in English only) on the Aboriginal Canada Portal, at the following URL:


From these events came the WSIS Declaration and Plan of Action, as well as the Declaration and Plan of Action of the Global Forum of Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society. Together, these documents provide guidance to states, Indigenous peoples, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and academics interested in using new technologies to improve communications and the quality of life for Indigenous peoples around the world.

Article 15 of the WSIS Declaration states:

"In the evolution of the Information Society, particular attention must be given to the special situation of Indigenous peoples, as well as to the preservation of their heritage and their cultural legacy.”

In March 2005, the Government of Canada, the Aboriginal Canada Portal and Connectivity Working Group and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues hosted the WSIS Indigenous Thematic Planning Conference for Tunisia. This was a global conference, with
participants from each of the world's regions, as recognized by the UN Permanent Forum.

The purpose of the WSIS Indigenous Thematic Planning Conference for Tunisia was to explore opportunities for: bridging the digital divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples; the effective use of information and communication technologies by Indigenous peoples for
sustainable development, poverty reduction, and other goals; and, for keeping the issue of connectivity front and centre on the international Indigenous agenda.

At the Tunisia phase of WSIS Indigenous delegates agreed to establish an Indigenous ICT Task Force to continue the work of WSIS in particular the aspirations of the indigenous parallel event in Tunis called Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society:

“Towards an International Indigenous Portal”

Indigenous connectivity should continue to be a focus for discussions at any number of international gatherings, including, but not limited to, the UN Permanent Forum, the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, and the Summit of the Americas.

SEE: http://www.itu.int/wsis/goldenbook/search/search-compute.asp