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Featured Stories

Native American Tribe Learning Computer Skills

Classes are held on the campus of the College of Menominee Nation.


Map of the US with Wisconsin highlightedComputer classes that are available free of charge to the approximately 5,000 members of the Menominee Nation in Wisconsin are part of an overall Recovery grant  not only to expand broadband service to underserved areas but also inform and educate residents of its usefulness.

“We have basic dial-up and very slow Internet,” says Dean Davis, lead computer instructor at the College of Menominee Nation in eastern Wisconsin. “It is hard to keep up with the rest of the world when the Internet is slow.”

The University of Wisconsin-Extension (UWEX) in Madison was awarded $2.4 million under the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program. UWEX allotted $174,300 of the grant to underwrite computer classes that the university’s affiliate, the College of the Menominee Nation, offers free to tribe members. The remainder of the grant covers the cost of bringing broadband service to Menominee County and four other area communities – Superior, Chippewa Valley, Wausau, and Platteville – a total of nearly 300,000 people.

Dean Davis and Deidre Wolfe are instructors for the computer classes at the College of Menominee Nation.

Wisconsin officials estimate that as much as 50 percent of state residents and businesses lack access to broadband, and many residents lack skills to use computers effectively. Since the beginning of June 2011, Davis and his colleague Deidre Wolfe have held 12 three-hour-long workshops for a total 75 tribe members.  Eleven workshops are scheduled for July alone, and Davis expects more will follow in the coming months because “there is a big interest for computer knowledge.”

By learning computer skills and the advantages of online computing, people are becoming more self-reliant, Davis adds. “We hope that this faster Internet will get more people involved and many more people will learn how to start their own businesses.”


More information on the Menominee Nation classes

More information on Recovery funded broadband access


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