Information Technology and Tribal Colleges and Universities: Moving Into the 21st Century
While the rest of the nation enjoys the economic and educational benefits of information technology (IT), Indian tribes lack the physical and human resources to use IT to improve the lives ofIndian people. The tragic irony is that Indian tribes continue to end ure the very problems that IT can help to overcome; economic stagnation, geographic isolation, inadequate health services, and lack ofhigher education opportunities. The President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (National Coordination Office for Information Technology Research and Development, 1998) emphasized the importance of IT to the future of America:
work, and play. Advances in computing and communications technology will create a new infrastructure for business, scientific research and social interaction. That infrastructure will provide us with new tools for communicating throughout the world, and for acquiring knowledge and insight from information. Information technology will help us to understand our effect on the natural environment, and how to protect it. lt will provide a vehicle for economic growth. Information technology can make the workplace more rewarding, improve the quality of health care, and make government itself more responsive and accessible to the needs of its citizens. (p. 1)
Indian tribes want to be included as active partners in the new economy and the information age. But partnership suggests equality, fairness, and equal access, three qualities that were absent in tribal-U.S. government relations in the past.