Wednesday, June 6, 2007

International Indigenous ICT Task Force Launches an Indigenous Internet Portal Created, Owned, and Operated by Indigenous Peoples


New York, NY May 21, 2007 – At United Nations Headquarters, the Indigenous ICT Task Force (IITF) successfully launched a unique internet portal about Indigenous Peoples, for Indigenous Peoples and by Indigenous Peoples during the 6th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. This new and exciting portal web site will serve Indigenous communities around the world by operating in four basic languages: English, Spanish, French and Russian.

“The portal you see today is only the beginning or skeleton of what the portal will look like when it is fully functional” stated Kenneth Deer (Mohawk), a member of the IITF and the moderator of the historic event. “This project will encourage Indigenous Peoples to use the Information Society to their benefit and promote capacity building” said Deer.

Other members of the IITF in attendance for the launch included Malia Nobrega (Hawai'i), Irina Kurilova (Russia), Lucky Sherpa (Nepal), Teanau Tuiono (Aotearoa, New Zealand), Marcos Terena (Brazil), and Roberto Múcaro Borrero (Borikén, Puerto Rico).

One of the portal developers, Teanau Tuiono (Maori) explained that “the site is divided into eight geographical regions in order to accommodate the vast cultural diversity of the Indigenous Peoples. In each region, an Indigenous editor will control and encourage content by, for and about Indigenous Peoples in their area in any language that they chose.”

“There will be a multitude of links to sites such as Indigenous Peoples radio and Youtube videos with indigenous content. The potential of the portal is endless” stated Tuiono. (see photo above)

“Each region will have an Indigenous editor to add content and links. They will be trained in the software and supplied with proper equipment and connections to enable them to operate effectively” stated Malia Nobrega.

Nobrega also announced that job postings for the editorial positions as well as the general portal manager position are now posted at the portal site (www.indigenousportal.com). Indigenous Peoples were encouraged to visit the portal and apply for the positions.

“What is important to note about the project is that its success is based on the dedication of a group of indigenous volunteers who worked in collaboration with non-indigenous partners” said Roberto Múcaro Borrero (Taino).

Borrero continued stating “The non-indigenous partners did not impose conditions on their assistance and we were able to produce a portal that reflected the aspirations of Indigenous Peoples who participated throughout the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)”

The launch was described as one step of an ongoing project, in development, by the IITF.

The International Indigenous ICT Task Force

The International Indigenous ICT Task Force (IITF) is a volunteer body created at the WSIS in Tunis in 2005. The objective of the IITF is to implement the Plan of Action of the WSIS process which specifically mentions Indigenous Peoples, and the objectives of the Global Forum of Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society. 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.”

Members of the IITF are from the seven geographical regions from around the world.

One of the first projects of the IITF was the creation a portal for and by Indigenous Peoples with a goal to build capacity and encourage the use of the internet. A working group of the IITF was enacted created to undertake this objective, and began writing a project proposal. The group was also charged with taking steps to implement a separate “portal board”, which could initiate the long-term administration of the portal project. With assistance from the Swiss Development Agency through the offices of Incomindios, a Swiss based NGO, the planning and organization of the portal project took shape leading to its successful launch at the United Nations.

For more information contact: indigenousportal@gmail.com