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Date: Thu, 2 Feb 1995 06:35:02 -0600
Sender: H-Net Ethnic History discussion list <H-ETHNIC%UICVM.BITNET@UBVM.cc.buffalo.edu>
From: Josef Barton <texbart@merle.acns.nwu.edu>
Subject: NETNEWS: Native American Communications Council established

Native American Communications Council established

Press Release, 13 January 1995


Tempe, Arizona
(602) 491-4493
Internet # NACC@aol.com

Contact: Tamera Crites Shanker, Victoria Bracewell Short


Tempe, Arizona January 13, 1995 - Native Americans establish the Native American Communications Council (NACC). The Native American Communications Council, Inc. (NACC) was established for the purpose of developing a Native owned and operated electronic network hub. The development of a Native internet service will ensure that Native people will have full and easy access to computer based telecommunications, relevant to their specific needs.

While there are a few Native American operated bulletin board systems and user groups offering on-line services, basic telecommunications infrastructure remains severely lacking in Native America. There are currently 550 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaskan Native villages in the United States; only two, however have any significant connection to or presence on the Internet. As of December 1994, only a few of the twenty-eight Native controlled colleges were connected to the Internet.

The NACC intends to fill this void by providing its own interactive network service to offer real-time discussions, plus information and programs on legal, health, business development, employment, entertainment and educational issues of particular concern to Native Americans and Alaskan Natives. In this way, the NACC will open the electronic door to greater communications between the numerous Native communities. It will also provide access for non-Native people to learn about Native American issues directly from the Native communities; which in turn will support and facilitate dialogue between Native and non-native peoples.

Because there is not currently a unified Native American presence on the Internet nor the online services such as Delphi, Genie, or America Online, there is a lot of room for Native Americans to be misrepresented. The founding members came together in their shared concern for the potential and actual abuse that can and is occurring in these mediums. The anonymity of on-line services allow for unscrupulous individuals to present disinformation on Native cultures and beliefs to serve their own personal agenda, said Dawn Jackson, NACC spokesperson. Through computers the founding members began the groundwork for the NACC. We realized if we did not take a position on the Information Superhighway, someone else would, said Jackson. After a great deal of research, we realized there was a real need for this type of native organization. It is also one of the goals of the NACC to seek cooperation with existing Native efforts in the telecommunications arena so that its efforts will complement, not conflict, with one another.

The specific goals of the NACC are to:

  1. develop a Native owned and operated telecommunications network to provide Native people with full and easy access to information stored on the NACC server. It will offer most Internet functions such as gopher, ftp, telnet, and an NACC World Wide Web (WWW) site. The NACC WWW home page will allow users to submit, hunt for, retrieve, and display data such as text, graphics, sound, and video. The html that instructs the computer to hyperlink information from the primary NACC server to another computer is hidden by a WWW browser.

    The primary NACC server would be tied into local servers that are located on reservations, Alaskan villages, urban centers, museums, and other non-NACC computers. NACC Local system administrators are responsible for maintaining their respective nodes and also will determine what is to be placed onto the NACC network.

    provide Native Americans with easy access to the resources of Internet via the free distribution of Netscape, which is a free World Wide Web browser that was developed by the software authors of NSCA Mosaic. Users, when launching Netscape, would see the NACC home page. The user is then able to browse through the NACC WWW site to link to local servers. Netscape also allows the user to exit out of the NACC WWW site to browse other WWW and gopher sites.

  2. educate Native Americans about the possibilities and resources of the Information Superhighway and encourage Native Americans to take advantage of these resources. Training would include navigating the Internet, creating WWW home pages, searching/retrieving information, submitting information, and intellectual property concerns, as well as managing local NACC nodes.

  3. develop and establish an interactive Internet network of services and programs to provide access to information resources, distances learning, grant opportunities, legal issues, health issues and services, educational, professional and job opportunities and native entertainment in film, TV, music and dance.

The information would be contained in various locations, depending on security. Information that can be freely released to the public could be retrieved by WWW or anonymous ftp, while others can be controlled via passwords via ftp, telnet, and WWW. Other files can be encrypted by PGP or other encryption programs.

Since 1993, the founding members of the NACC have met with various Native American groups to obtain funding and support for the NACC. In February/March 1994, the board of directors first introduced the goals and objectives of the NACC to the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian and the National Science Foundation. Orna Weinroth of the National Indian Policy Center in Washington D.C. has been advising the NACC since it's inception. In September 1994, the Phoenix law firm of Snell & Wilmer offered to assist the NACC with the incorporation process on a pro bono basis. Fred Steiner, Jr., a partner at Snell & Wilmer, who leads an extensive Indian Law Practice, has since assisted the NACC to incorporate in Arizona and will be helping it protect its name and logo, as well as secure tax exempt status. The need for a reliable, responsive and responsible voice for Native Americans on the Information Superhighway is self-evident. We are pleased to be able to provide something tangible and useful to the NACC toward achieving that goal, said Fred Steiner. Brigitte Finley and Charles Hauff, Jr. , attorneys at Snell & Wilmer in the areas of tax and intellectual property, are also assisting the NACC.

Through facilitating programs of service and support for Native American communities, this council will serve as a resource for cultural preservation efforts and for education about the cultural legacy and contemporary culture of Native Americans.

The NACC is a not-for-profit corporation, based in Arizona, with offices situated nationally. The founding members of the Native American Communications Council reside in all parts of the United States and bring to the board of the NACC a wide variety of professional and volunteer expertise, in addition to diverse educational backgrounds. All five founding members are of Native American descent. Below are brief biographies of each Executive Board member.

Dawn Jackson (Saginaw Chippewa) is a Creative Services Coordinator with The Walt Disney Company. In addition to her managerial duties she is currently consulting on cultural accuracy in product designs for the upcoming feature film Pocahontas. Jackson was recently elected to serve a 4-year term as a Los Angles City/County American Indian Commissioner, and is a member of the National American Indian Policy Network, working with the White House to develop policy for urban dwelling Natives. Originally from Michigan, she is an award winning fine artist and a member of Women In Film. She is a co-founder and Board of Trustee member of First Americans in the Arts, a non-profit trust dedicated to recognizing the achievements and encouraging the full participation of Native Americans in the entertainment industry through annual awards and scholarship presentations. Jackson lives in the Los Angeles, California area.

Tracy R'Dane Miller (Eastern Band Cherokee) is currently employed by the Valley Advocate, a regional Massachusett news journal and is active in sponsoring and supporting Native American education, Native American languages and cultures preservation. Miller attended Hampshire College, specializing in Native American Affairs and Creative Writing, where she served several terms as a student representative in the school of Humanities and Arts and was an active member of the American Indian Student Association. Miller currently resides with her daughter in Goshen, Mass.

Tamera Crites Shanker (Arapaho) a children's rights legal advocate, received her B.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California in 1984 and her Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., in 1994, where she was a Senior Editor on the journal for Law & Policy in International Business. Crites Shanker's interest in and commitment to children's rights led her to work as a volunteer writer for the Children's Action Alliance Juvenile Justice Project. She was also appointed by the Arizona juvenile court to sit on the state's Foster Care Review Board. Crites Shanker is admitted to practice in Arizona and is a member of the State Bar of Arizona's Indian Law, Family Law, and Juvenile Law sections. She lives in Tempe, Arizona with her husband and two children.

Victoria Bracewell Short (Creek) is a Creative Director and Senior Art Director at Design Central, a creative marketing design studio in the Washington D.C area. Bracewell Short has more than 14 years of experience in marketing, design and development of telecommunications, resort/tourism, healthcare and nonprofit enterprises. She is co-founder of Artworks, an advertising and design cooperative that actively promotes careers in the arts for Native Americans. She also serves as Advisor and Adjunct Professor at Columbia Union College, Department of Arts and Communication, in Takoma Park, Maryland. Originally from Alabama, Bracewell Short received her BS/BA in Public Administration and Visual Communications from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and currently resides with her husband in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Marc Towersap (Shoshone-Bannock) is currently employed by Lockheed Idaho Technologies as an Associate Engineer. Prior to that, Towersap was employed by Westinghouse Idaho Nuclear Company as an associate engineer and safety analyst. He is currently a member of the Minority Affairs Board for the Idaho Falls Post Register, a member of Lockheed Idaho Technologies Co's Native American Mentoring Program, which assists the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in setting up small businesses, and a professional member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Towersap received a Bachelor's in Science in Physics from Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Towersap currently resides in Pocatello, Idaho.