Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Closing the computer gap.(New Mexico & The West)

Byline: Story by Leslie Linthicum * Photographs by Richard Pipes * Of the Journal

Some Indian communities struggle to master the new technology

There are sign-up sheets and 15-minute time limits in the Jemez Pueblo community library's computer lab so everyone can get a crack at the new computers lined up against the wall.

In a community of 3,000 people where perhaps 10 families have home computers, the Internet-capable Gateway machines draw adults looking for jobs and reading their e-mail and students working on homework assignments or checking out the latest boy bands on mtv.com.

Meanwhile, not too many miles away near Chaco Canyon on the Navajo reservation, the four computers in the settlement of Torreon are locked in a building that sits on a mesa top next to the community center.

Any of the community's residents can drive in from their homes spread across the desert countryside, ask for a key and put the machines to use.

But they don't. Mostly because they don't know how to use a computer or even know that the computers are there.

There has been an explosion of computer technology in Indian communities in the past six months. Two grants one a federal allotment and the other a private gift have put more than 600 new computers in Indian Country across New Mexico and the Navajo reservation.

This leapfrog into the information age has come with mixed results. …

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