U.S. Department of the Interior contact:

Assistant Secretary Scarlett Participates
in Demonstration of Partnership
to Bring Economic Development
to Indian Country


TO'HAJIILEE, New Mexico (Aug. 30, 2002) -- Interior Assistant Secretary P. Lynn Scarlett today helped to usher in a new era in communications and partnerships among indigenous peoples that is tied to the World Summit on Sustainable Development taking place this week in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs and an organization called Greenstar have worked together this week to demonstrate Greenstar's technology by linking African villagers to the Navajo Nation community in New Mexico. The Internet connection is provided by Greenstar with monetary assistance from the Department of the Interior for the exhibit in Johannesburg.

"Economic development partnerships cast a hopeful light across Indian country," said Scarlett. "These partnerships help unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of Natives with using information technology and renewable energy."

The To'Hajiilee Navajo community chose the oldest living code talker from World War II to tell his story for the first time to be recorded and Webcast later to another continent.

The technology on display in Johannesburg represents a potential economic development opportunity for Indian Country. The exchange of cultures is possible through technology that has the potential for a sustained clean-energy solar power supply, telemedicine, internet access,
and economic development.

The vehicle for making this happen in distant African villages and perhaps in Indian Country is a portable community center. It is a shipping-container sized box that unfolds into a one kilowatt solar-powered community center. It includes a medical center for vaccine cold storage, blood analysis and web-based e-medicine, a global telecommunication and marketing center, a computer-based educational center for agriculture and sundry micro-enterprises, a public meeting center, battery-charging center, and an ultra-violet or forced-filter water purification center that can serve the clean water needs of up to 20,000 people annually.

Several interviews were conducted with Tribal leaders, the code talker, and Scarlett to be transmitted to Johannesburg. Participants in the World Summit on Sustainable Development will be able to view the interviews in the exhibit provided there.

reprinted with permission of the United States Department of the Interior