The information superhighway has come to the 20 families who live on the Sauk-Suiattle Indian reservation in the remote Cascade Mountains, thanks to an initiative to bring broadband technology and its benefits to Indian tribes in rural and remote areas. Residents in the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Reservation are the surviving descendents of the original peoples who lived in the region of Sauk Prairie, near the present-day town of Darrington. The current tribe membership is around 200 individuals, some of whom live near the reservation.
Each of the families has a new computer with wi-fi under the initiative, developed by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians -- Economic Development Corp. (ATNI-EDC), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Verizon Avenue. The families also received computer training and have access to a private network that will enable them to share information about grant applications, health and local news.
"These new computers and high-speed Internet access open a world of opportunities to the tribe that we didn't have before," said Chief Jason L. Joseph. "Education is key to a better life for our families, and having broadband gives us the power to take advantage of distance learning and hundreds of colleges and universities that offer online degrees. We're grateful to our technology partners who made this possible."
One of the 20 families to benefit is the Pughs. John Pugh has a 158-mile round-trip commute to his office in Redmond, a drive that often takes as long as five hours a day. Pugh is looking forward to using his new computer to telecommute a few days a week so he can spend more time with his family and the community. He also plans to complete his bachelor's degree by taking online college courses.