Challenging and ending the digital divide: Indigenous perspective

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Kanyon (facilitator)

Introduction Remarks

How do we avoid and stop the continued colonization of indigenous people and land, particularly from Silicon Valley settlers?

Indigenous protocol: seek permission from indigenous people - Example: Canada, 3 percent of turtle island, but protect over 70 percent of the habitat

We need to make space for indigenous people. How do we make settlers seek permission and center the power of indigenous people?

We must acknowledge and engage indigenous protocol into every practice.

We need to have an interaction with indigenous people who seek to enhance their digital experience. Example: Alcatraz, prison, indigenous people were incarcerated, Alcatraz was the First Standing Rock,

Problem Area #1: How Indigenous People and Other Oppressed Groups Can Make Their Own News, Media

Alicia: What are some of the digital gaps that have been identified by different indigenous people? Kanyon: “Digital Smoke Signal” (before Standing Rock): it was this organization that used drones to show the lies of DAPL. The high-definition, 4K drones collected evidence. This was an example of how media tools were used by indigenous people to control the narrative and to tell the truth.

Problem Area #2: As an employee of an organization that is seeking to bridge a particular digital divide, it can be hard to work with oppressed communities because you are not a part of the community.

Allison – How to integrate, engage, and work helpfully with oppressed communities you are not a part of?

Sarah: Gives an example of a black and indigenous populated county that her organization did not really know about her organization’s work. Many of these communities are tight, close, and protective. Sarah engaged with leaders to give space to learn and respect their history. It’s important to engage and build relationships and trust before “giving solutions”.

Diana: Remember, you can build trust with many people, but that doesn’t men you

Allison: example of not understanding the community was that a foundation gave a bunch of free laptops to low-income children but they did not realize that the kids did not have Internet at home.

Problem Area #3: Challenge the Narrative of the “Digital Divide”

Maya: Detroit Digital Media Justice Model – prioritize older and younger people in a conversation, in which staff of the organization do not force knowledge on the people, but rather, allow older and younger community members to lead the conversation and skill share among each other. DC Public Library’s Memory Lab – exchange of knowledge between young and older people

Alicia: “Digital divide” can be problematic because it victimizes communities and ignores the innovation that emerges among communities that are not studied by academics or framed by NGOs to justify their existence.

Kanyon: we need to acknowledge how elders encourage younger folks to not pursue all digital elements

Sarah: “Digital divide” is problematic because it raises the question of who gets to claim the digital.

Decolonization of Organizing Space/Solution: Using indigenous protocol, an example is “Ask First” to inform our organizing and work.


1. Acknowledge the indigenous people of the particular land – know who they are and their history? 2. Did the organizers ask or consult with indigenous leader? 3. What constitutes meaningful representation during the event? 4. Are you willing to be called out for the cultural appropriation that may emerge in the event?