The President's New Markets Trip:
From Digital Divide to Digital Opportunity

April 17 - 18, 2000


Office of the Press Secretary
(Shiprock, New Mexico)

For Immediate Release April 17, 2000

Highlighting Technology's Economic Opportunity in Shiprock
April 17, 2000

TODAY, PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL VISIT SHIPROCK, NEW MEXICO TO HIGHLIGHT HOW ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY CAN LEAD TO ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY. President Clinton will visit Shiprock, NM where he will speak to the Navajo Nation at the local Boys and Girls Club, which is also a PowerUP site. The President will focus on access to technology as a vehicle for education and economic development to bring employment opportunities to Native Americans. He will also emphasize how public and private sector investments can create digital opportunity in isolated communities. The President will then participate in an Internet video conference at the Diné Tribal College with students from remote schools within the Navajo Nation. Building on his successful New Markets trips of 1999, the President will highlight the importance of mobilizing the high-tech industry to encourage the participation of all Americans in the digital economy.


While the number of Americans accessing the Internet has grown rapidly in recent years, there remains a digital divide between information "haves" and "have nots." Native Americans rank far below the national average in their access to telephones, computers, and the Internet, and thus unable to access the full range of information resources that are quickly becoming essential for success in the new economy. For example:

  • Lack of Telephone Service Only 22.5 percent of Navajo Nation households have home telephone service as compared to the national average of 94 percent (American Indian Report, March 2000).

  • Lack of Education The Navajo Nation high school drop-out rate averages at 20 percent for 9th graders. Only one quarter of the Navajo adult population has graduated from high school (Navajo Nation, 1999).

THE PRESIDENT WILL BE JOINED BY HIGH-TECH AND COMMUNITY LEADERS. The President will be joined by Jeff Arnold, CEO, Healtheon/ WebMD Corporation; Bruce Brooks, Director of Community Affairs, Microsoft; Michael Chasen, President and Co-Founder, Blackboard, Inc.; Rev. Jesse Jackson, CEO and Founder, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Yusef Jackson, Co-Chairman, One Net Now; Yvonne Jackson, Senior Vice President, Compaq Computer Corporation; Robert Johnson, CEO, BET Holdings, Inc.; Dr. John Koehler, President and CEO, Tachyon, Inc.; Susan Masten, Chairman and President of the National Congress of American Indians; Steven Rohleder, Managing Partner, Andersen Consulting; Robert Rutherford, President, Native American Systems; Karen Smith, Executive Director, TechCorps; Raul Yzaguirre, President, National Council of La Raza; and Rae Grad, CEO of PowerUP.


  • FCC Chairman William Kennard Will Announce Proposals to Increase Telephone Access for Native American Communities for $1 Per Month Through the Lifeline Program
  • Microsoft Will Announces a $2.75 Million in New Grants to the American Indian Tribal College Program
  • IBM, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the University of Michigan Will Invest $1 Million in Partnership with Tribal Colleges to Develop a Virtual Library for Tribal Colleges
  • Compaq, in Partnership with TechCorps, Will Announce a $500,000 Commitment to Serve Native American and Other Schools Through Online Mentoring
  • The Corporation For National Service Will Announce $1 Million for the Navajo Leader Corps
  • Andersen Consulting Will Help Native American Small Business to Use E-Commerce
  • Tachyon, Inc. Will Provide 500 Navajo Nation Students with Satellite Internet Access
  • An Over $100,000 Commitment by Native American Systems to Increase Internet Access in Indian Country
  • The Native American Digital Divide Taskforce Will Launch with $100,000 From America Online
  • Blackboard Inc., Will Commit to Providing Enhanced Educational Tools to Native American Tribal Colleges
  • Healtheon/WebMD Will Announce Internet Access to Healthcare Information for Indian Country
  • FCC Chairman William Kennard Will Announce Proposals to Provide Phone Service for $1 Through the Lifeline Program. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman, William Kennard, has proposed increasing funding under the Lifeline program so that every member of a federally recognized Indian tribe who is income eligible can have basic phone service for as little as $1 per month. The FCC has also proposed an increase in federal universal service funding to companies willing to serve Native American reservations by removing the cap on the funding available to carriers that purchase exchanges on reservations and changing the practice of averaging the cost of serving high-cost reservations with low-cost areas when calculating support amounts. These critical steps to expand the Lifeline program will greatly improve Native American communities' access to information and technology resources.

  • Microsoft Will Announce $2.75 Million in New Grants to the American Indian Tribal College Program, Including Diné College. Microsoft will provide eight American Indian Tribal Colleges with technology and training through its American Indian Tribal College Program, part of a continuing relationship with the American Indian Science and Technology Education Consortium. Microsoft will provide these tribal colleges with $2.5 million in software and $250,000 in technical assistance to ensure an increase in technical skills among students at tribal colleges. In addition, the program will include the tools necessary for the institutions to achieve Microsoft Certified Training Facility status.

  • IBM, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the University of Michigan Will Invest $1 Million in Partnership Tribal Colleges to Develop a Virtual Library For Tribal Colleges. The President will announce a unique $1 million partnership between IBM, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the University of Michigan and several tribal colleges to create a "virtual library." The virtual library homepage will link into a major national database that will catalog electronic books, magazines, journals and Internet documents from around the world. The virtual library will have a reference section, a database section, and local exhibitions for the 32 tribal colleges across the country. There will also be a technical support system which will answer student, faculty and community members' questions interactively.

  • Compaq, in Partnership with TechCorps, Will Announce a $500,000 Commitment to Serve Native American and Other Schools Through Online Mentoring. The President will announce a $500,000 commitment by Compaq Computer Corporation to partner with TechCorps to develop, pilot and support the nationwide launch of Techs4Schools, an online mentoring program that uses the Internet to join teachers with volunteer high-tech experts to advance the level of technological knowledge and support in our schools. Four Navajo Nation schools participated in the pilot of Techs4Schools, and following today's launch, Techs4Schools will be available to all Navajo Nation Schools and other K-12 schools nationwide.

  • The Corporation for National Service Will Announce A $1 Million AmeriCorps Grant For the Navajo Leader Corps. The President will announce a $1 million AmeriCorps grant for the Navajo Leader Corps. The grant will support 50 Navajo AmeriCorps members in renovating 165 Head Start Centers and BIA schools across the Navajo Nation. The renovations will include wiring the facilities for Internet access.

  • A $100,000 Commitment from Andersen Consulting to Support Small Business In Indian Country. The President will announce that Andersen Consulting will pledge $100,000 to mentor and provide technical assistance to Native American tribes, tribal businesses, and other Native-owned businesses. This assistance will support their efforts to expand e-commerce. Andersen and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will coordinate this effort. This support will be in the form of professional mentoring, technical advising, computer equipment, and other services.

  • Tachyon, Inc. Will Provide Tribal Colleges with Satellite Internet Access. President Clinton will announce a major commitment by Tachyon, Inc. to assist 500 students by bringing Internet access to Diné Tribal College and a remote school. The Tachyon Corporation will provide high-speed, two-way, satellite-delivered Internet access to link two sites of Diné Tribal College and the Lake Valley School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs school. This assistance from Tachyon will build upon a $10.3 million Department of Labor Youth Opportunity Grant received by the Navajo Nation and Diné College to help fund eight technology centers in each of Diné College's locations.

  • An Over $100,000 Commitment by Native American Systems to Increase Internet Access in Indian Country. The President will announce a more than $100,000 commitment by Native American Systems (NAS) to provide satellite connections to the Red Rock Day School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs school on the Navajo Nation in Red Valley, AZ. NAS will donate and install a satellite dish, a network router, and 12 complete computer workstations, including Compaq iPAQ computers and monitors for the 244 children attend the Red Rock Day School. NAS is also contributing an additional 30 network routers which will be distributed to similarly isolated Bureau of Indian Affairs schools on reservations across the country. The President and CEO of NAS is Robert P. Rutherford, a member of the Choctaw Tribe.

  • The Native American Digital Divide Taskforce Will Launch with $100,000 from America Online. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) will announce the creation of the Native American Digital Divide Taskforce. This Taskforce, with the support and cooperation of the Department of Commerce, bring together a core group of tribal leaders, tribal businesses, academics, government officials, and private businesses to examine issues of access to technology; economic development and workforce training; education; and the creation of culturally and socially relevant Internet resources. empower Native communities through increased information and access to advanced telecommunications and information technologies.

  • Blackboard Inc., Commits to Providing Enhanced Educational Tools to Native American Tribal Colleges. The President will announce a pledge of software, training and educational content to Native American Tribal Colleges. Blackboard, Inc., is Internet education company that powers online teaching and learning platforms, servicing more than 2.1 million people worldwide. Through this pledge, tribal colleges will be able to develop courses for students in remote areas in need of distance learning opportunities. It will also ensure access for tribal college students and faculty to millions of online course currently available through the Blackboard platform.

  • Healtheon/WebMD Announces Internet Access to Healthcare Information for Indian Country. Healtheon/WebMD has agreed to provide free subscriptions for WebMD Practice to the doctors at the Indian Health Services facility in Shiprock, NM. WebMD Practice is an Internet portal that provides doctors and other healthcare providers with a full spectrum of services and information to help them provide quality healthcare more effectively and efficiently. In addition, Healtheon/WebMD will install an Internet-connected kiosk equipped with printers in the waiting room of the Indian Health Services facility. This kiosk will allow visitors to search for and print out healthcare information from the WebMD portal.

  • USDA-Rural Development Announces Safe and Clean Water Funds for Indian Country. The Department of Agriculture will announce $3 million in grants from its American Indian Safe and Clean Water Set-Aside fund to serve six tribal communities in five states (AZ, ME, MN, OR, SD). Additionally, USDA is committing $2.2 million in low interest loans and $300,000 in grants to the projects. Five tribes and one non-profit utility district have developed these projects to provide good quality drinking water or improved wastewater disposal.

  • HUD Announces 10 Neighborhood Network Centers Targeted in Indian Country. As part of its overall expansion of Neighborhood Network Centers, HUD commits to helping 10 Indian Housing Authorities to create Neighborhood Network Community Learning Centers, and to locating donations or other sources of funding for equipment and networking.

  • HUD Launches Native eDGE - the Native American Economic Development Access Center. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and its Office of Native American Programs (ONAP) will announce the creation of a Native American Economic Development Access Center, accessible via website and toll-free number. This Access Center, called Native eDGE (economic Development Guidance and Empowerment) will, for the first time, electronically link resources from over link over 12 Federal agencies with Native Americans, lending institutions, non-profits, foundations, and private businesses so they can collaborate to achieve sustainable economic development in Indian Country. The Access Center will include a publications clearinghouse to distribute printed materials on demand, and will provide technical assistance by economic development specialists.

  • The Department of Education Proposes the Challenging Online Coursework Initiative. The President will announces that his FY2001 budget includes $10 million to fund the Challenging Online Coursework Initiative for competitive grants to spur innovative research and development efforts focused on web-based Advance Placement (AP), second language, and other challenging coursework. Grants of up to three years would be provided to partnerships for research, development and evaluation of technologies such as online simulations and other web-based instruction that can help provide high-quality learning experiences for all students no matter where their school is located. This initiative will be particularly valuable for remote Native American schools.

  • The Small Business Administration and Treasury Propose BusinessLINC in Indian Country. Under Vice President Gore's leadership, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury have launched a national initiative called BusinessLINC. As part of his FY2001 budget, the President has proposed $1.25 million to expand BusinessLINC to Indian Country. During the remainder of this year, Treasury and SBA will hold at least two working sessions that will help explore how BusinessLINC in Indian Country might best proceed with particular attention to high-tech opportunities. These sessions will bring together tribal leaders, high-technology firms. These working sessions would explore how the high-tech industry could expand its activities into Indian Country.


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