NOVEMBER 2018 NUIFC REPORT
Weaving Our Web: The State of Digital Inclusion in Urban Indian America, released by the NUIFC with support from Internet Essentials from Comcast, is the first in a three-part series exploring the state of digital connectedness among Native Americans who reside in cities and urban population centers. Current broadband adoption statistics reveal the Native American community faces the largest digital divide of any demographic group in the United States. Despite having a divergent experience from those living on reservations or in rural areas, the urban Indian population is often overlooked in research, and until now, digital inclusion research has been no exception. This report seeks to understand and evaluate the current landscape of technology and internet use by urban Indians and to make recommendations for further research. Using Native methodologies to ensure Indian voices directed the conversation and subsequent narrative, NUIFC convened four round-table focus groups in major geographic regions, with staff from 13 member organizations. These conversations centered on the importance of digital connectivity and the impact of digital exclusion within the urban Indian community, as well as recommendations for further exploration and analysis, and formed the basis for this report.
A newly released report – the first of its kind – highlights the challenges facing urban Native American youth in public schools and showcases seven alternative public education programs that are having a positive impact in addressing these challenges.
The report, Resurgence: Restructuring Urban American Indian Education, was released today by the National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC). It tracks the history of the U.S. public education system’s relationship with Native American communities and the on-going disparities that exist within academic achievement data for urban American Indian students, commonly referred to as “the achievement gap.” The report acknowledges that educators and administrators have worked tirelessly with policy officials and the philanthropic community to reform the system to close this achievement gap, but it still persists for all students of color and is especially bleak for urban American Indian students.
The report identifies six major urban centers that have high concentrations of American Indian students who attend local public schools and investigates seven alternative education programs being offered to these students in each place. These alternative education programs leverage traditional indigenous culture as a means of securing academic achievement and have earned respect and wide-spread support by the urban American Indian communities that they serve.
The six major urban centers included in the report: Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; Minneapolis, Minnesota and Los Angeles, California.
Despite the fact that “urban Indians” now constitute some 50% of the overall AmericanIndian and Alaskan Native (AIAN, also referred to throughout as “Indian” and “Native”)population in the United States, reliable data on the characteristics of this population do not exist. Certainly, a number of reports about urban Natives have been produced over the years; notably, the status and wellbeing of urban Indian families has been discussed in a 1998 special edition of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, American Indian Policy Center (2000), Willeto and Goodluck (2003), Besaw et al. (2004), Annie E. Casey Foundation (2005), and Huenemann (2005). While valuable, these reports tend to aggregate data statewide and/or nationally, and in so doing, ignore potentially important differences between Indian communities in different urban centers and between urban Indians and Indians residing on tribal lands. As a result, there is limited information with which to address important service, outreach, and political concerns of Indian people inAmerica’s largest urban centers.