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For the past seven years, I have spent time visiting students in rural communities across Washington State, where I live. I share information about science, engineering, technology and math, and specifically talk about software engineering and the projects Google has launched. It’s a true joy of mine to see students excited about technology, and see their young minds thinking about the possibilities ahead of them.
When I visit students, I get to combine my experience as an engineer at Google, and as a member of the Google American Indian Network, to bring access to technology to those who may not otherwise have it. As an Elder and an Enrolled Member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Oregon, I was honored to take part in Google’s latest initiative to bring Wi-Fi and Chromebooks to Celilo Village, a Native American community on the Columbia River. This project will give residents and students the ability to access the abundance of information found online, and improve the digital divide between urban and rural communities.
The village has a historical significance to this part of the country, dating back over 11,000 years. Today, it’s home to nearly 100 Native Americans from many tribes, four of whom are the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Confederated Tribes of Yakama, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla and the Nez Perce Tribe. And until now, the 16 homes in the village had sporadic or no access to Wi-Fi.
Thanks to a grant from Google, participation from the Google American Indian Network and collaboration with Dufur School, village residents and The Dalles Data Center, all homes now have access to Wi-Fi, and so do their schoolhouse and longhouse. Residents will have access to Chromebooks, and I put together a booklet with instructions on getting online and accessing Google apps.