By B.L. Ochman David Newberger jokes that he hasn’t slept in about three years. He’s a geek who’s been blogging since 2000. His company, Blackdot Ventures, is a ” strategy, innovation, and development company that … navigate[s] the dizzying array of new communication technologies and ride the wave of information that is coming from all directions.” Lately, Newberger, who’s a member of the tribe, been helping the 2000-member Native American Coeur d’Alene Tribe blog and use other social media tools.
In August, he’ll launch Indian Country Blogs (IC Blogs) a WordPress-based multi-user system he created in “an effort to get Native Americans to blog more.” IC Blogs will provide the tools for people to posts videos and podcasts to the blogs. It’s funded out of his pocket, and he says he is very dedicated to seeing this happen. “It’s not a job, it’s a passion. If I didn’t really enjoy it, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
Newberger started the tribal blog because tribal issues, in this case a credit card scandal, were being swept under the rug. It’s difficult, he says, for tribe members to get “credible news.” The reservation, where about 50 percent of tribe members live, has a newspaper. But, he says, it’s monthly, and “it only prints what they want people to know about, and not what might not be kind of big members in the community.”
People contacted Newberger, who lives 1200 miles from the reservation, and said “we need help.” While not all tribe members are blog-literate yet, the tribe runs a wireless broadband company through a government utilities grant. So there are some computer literate members and a community tech center so they are getting more into it.
Tribe members tend to fear repercussions and being labeled for posting, Newberger admits, and “There is a fine balance.” But being able to be heard has appeal on the reservation as it does everywhere else, and more and more tribe members are at least reading the blog if not posting to it yet.
Newberger’s personal blog is technology related “with a little politics here and there.” His thoughts and ideas on technology, he says, are his bread and butter.
What’s been the impact of the tribal blog? It’s hard to say that the blog is the only influence, Newberger says, but two of the people implicated in the initial credit card scandal, the CEO and COO of the casino, are no longer employed by the tribe. The blog has, he says, been kind of low-key until the last week or so.
So far, other tribes have not begun blogging, but the Puyallup Tribal News website indicates that it soon will launch a tribal blog.