Digital Equity in Indian Country

When Davida Delmar (Navajo) is asked to summarize the work she does, she often says, “there is a gap in Indian Country that prevents communities from fully participating online. This gap, or problem, is the digital divide. Digital inclusion is the work we and Tribal practitioners are doing every day to bridge that gap and achieve our goal of digital equity where everyone has access to skills and technology.”

Davida is the Digital Inclusion Manager at AMERIND Critical Infrastructure (ACI). Her job is the result of a unique partnership between ACI and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. On any given day, she can be found helping out the seven Tribal Digital Navigators who are building digital skills programs in their Tribal communities across the nation. Davida also travels across the US facilitating workshops and providing knowledge on the basics of digital inclusion. As Native America leverages the $3 billion set aside for tribes in the American Rescue Plan Act to close the digital divide, groups like the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and AMERIND Critical Infrastructure are shining a spotlight on the need to include digital skills programs and education in tandem with infrastructure builds. For some communities, this means providing appropriate devices, such as computers and tablets, which Tribal citizens can use to apply for jobs, build e-commerce businesses, or connect with Tribal language programs. For others, it includes guidance on safely using internet apps and tools, while avoiding the dangers of frauds, and scams perpetrated on the internet. For Davida, the work is about preserving Tribal sovereignty by creating a community of Indigenous practitioners who are helping each other build best practices of digital inclusion efforts in Tribal communities and advocating for more partnership and consultation opportunities with state and federal entities.



The digital divide is the gap between those who have affordable access, skills, and support to effectively engage online and those who do not. As technology constantly evolves, the digital divide prevents equal participation and opportunity in all parts of life, disproportionately affecting people of color, Indigenous peoples, households with low incomes, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, and older adults.


Digital navigators are trusted guides who assist community members in internet adoption and the use of computing devices. Digital navigation services include ongoing assistance with affordable internet access, device acquisition, technical skills, and application support.


Digital equity is a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. Digital equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services.


Digital Inclusion refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This includes five elements:

  1. Affordable, robust broadband internet service;
  2. Internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user;
  3. Access to digital skills training;
  4. Quality technical support; and
  5. Applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration.

Digital Inclusion must evolve as technology advances. Digital Inclusion requires intentional strategies and investments to reduce and eliminate historical, institutional, and structural barriers to access and use technology.

Source: National Digital Inclusion Alliance

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