The Montana Indian Technology and Cultural Heritage Learning Centers project will establish reservation-based technology training centers at four Tribal colleges within Montana. The Centers, with assistance from the Burns Telecommunications Center, will work with Tribal elders and leaders, as well as local youth, tribal college educators, and others, to teach digital preservation skills. The project will be a multi-generational effort to learn new skills in order to preserve the Tribe's historical, cultural, and language resources. The content developed at the Centers will be formatted as `cultural modules' and shared with the community and tourists in kiosks in the Tribes' new Field Museums. The Learning Centers will feature high-end multimedia systems, hubs, and printers; among the courses that will be taught are website development, digitization of images and sound, networking, and creating Quick Time VR presentations and panoramas. In addition, the Centers will offer basic courses on office applications and the use of the World Wide Web. By linking hands-on training, education, and outreach to the development of virtual materials for the new Field Museums, reservation residents will have a meaningful project to contribute to as they learn new technologies.
Language, science, music, dance, stories, and historic sites all contribute to a better understanding of a nation's history and culture. New multimedia technologies provide opportunities to capture and share these important connections to a Tribe's past. This project will be particularly significant because project leaders will team Tribal elders with young people, teaching them both to use multimedia technology to preserve the cultural riches unique to their Tribes. In addition, the project is important because it affords the Tribes an opportunity to gain digital access to the extensive collections of artifacts held by Museums around the world, many of which have been reluctant to return the artifacts to the Tribes. The project will engage a wide variety of individuals of all ages and will for the first time give them a meaningful, tangible reason to learn new skills. The project will encourage other tribes and remote communities to bring citizens of all ages together to use technology to preserve their heritage and culture.
The Burns Telecommunications Center, based at Montana State University, will work with Dull Knife Memorial College, Pretty Eagle School, Stone Child College, and Fort Belknap College.