NativeWeb is currently in process
Most of our members are involved with their local communities
The biggest problem is the lack of time
"We have links to over 2000 web sites that contain information important to Indigenous
an E-mail talk with Shane Caraveo
zum Thema: Mister Caraveo, the communicational structure of the Internet might give a new perspective to minority
groups like native cultures, a chance for better organization and cooperation in their struggle for political and
cultural rights. One extraordinary example of these alternative net-projects is "NativeWeb". Can you
give us some more details about the main aims of your Internet-organization?
Shane Caraveo: NativeWeb exists to utilize the Internet to educate the public about Indigenous cultures and issues,
and to promote communications between Indigenous peoples and organizations supporting their goals and efforts.
The content of NativeWeb at the moment is predominantly about the Americas, from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego.
In time, this will change. As access to the Web grows, as Indigenous peoples of other continents reach out through
the Internet, NativeWeb will grow also. Already there are links to the Sami of Northern Europe, the Maori of New
Zealand, and Aboriginal Peoples of Australia.
Indigenous Peoples have much in common amidst great diversity: spiritual practices celebrating inter-relatedness
of all Life on Earth; and historical suffering at the hands of industrialized nations and corporate entities. NativeWeb
is concerned with all this: Indigenous literature and art, legal and economic issues, land claims and new ventures
Our purpose is not to "preserve," in museum fashion, some vestige of the past, but to foster communication
among people engaged in the present and looking toward a sustainable future for those yet unborn.
Over the past four years NativeWeb has striven to be a place where people on the Internet could go to find information.
We currently have links to over 2000 web sites on the Internet that contain information for, about, or important
to Indigenous cultures. We also provide several resources to assist people in communicating with each other, such
as email lists, web based message boards and chat rooms. We have in the past always been a site developed completely
on a volunteer basis.
Recently NativeWeb has received recognition from various institutions, most notably, the National Endowment for
Humanities has recognized us as one of the leading educational resources on the Internet (they list about 100 such
sites they consider to be in this category). The NativeWeb web site receives approximately 2500 visitors per day,
with about 500,000 page views per month (during school sessions).
zum Thema: The idea of creating a web to support the struggles of Indigenous peoples around the globe started
in 1994, initiated by Marc Becker. Can you tell us about the technical, organizational and political development
of NativeWeb from a simple mailing list to what it is now?
Shane Caraveo: NativeWeb began its existence in May of 1994 as an outgrowth of the NativeNet listserv mailing lists.
Marc Becker, then a graduate student in Latin American History who had worked on HNSource, a pioneering history
web site at the University of Kansas, began discussions with Gary S. Trujillo, the founder and moderator of the
NativeNet lists, about using this new technology to support and extend the struggles of Indigenous peoples around
Guillermo Delgado, a Quechua Indian from Bolivia and a professor of Latin American Studies at the University of
California, Santa Cruz, along with Susan O'Donnell, a staff member at Cultural Survival Canada, drafted an organizational
framework for this new project. Marc began to assemble materials based on this plan on his personal UNIX computer
account at the University of Kansas.
Over the next year, participants on this project met at different locations, including an Internet for Native Peoples
Conference in November of 1994 in Berkeley, California, a February 1995 meeting at MIT, and at the Ties that Bind
Conference at Apple Computer in May of 1995.
In April 1995, NativeWeb formally separated from the NativeNet project. During October 1995, the site moved from
the University of Kansas to Syracuse University. Slowly, a system of collective webmasters evolved. In July 1997,
the site acquired the domain name www.nativeweb.org and moved to its own server in order to access new technologies
and to handle the heavy demand from users around the world.
zum Thema: So how is NativeWeb working today?
Shane Caraveo: NativeWeb is currently in process of some fairly significant changes. We are obtaining non-profit
status, adding new members, and refocusing some of our efforts towards more directly providing resources to native
communities. Some of our new programs will possibly include providing internet access to community leaders, distributing
donated computers to community centers or schools, and assisting organizations in the process of utilizing the
Internet for the distribution of information they can provide.
zum Thema: And how is it organized?
Shane Caraveo: NativeWeb has had no structured organization over the past years it has been in operation. The members
of NativeWeb work well together and have always been able to come to consensus on how to run the project. We have
set our eyes on a more distant future in which some of us may not be with the project, and so are currently in
process of developing policies and organizational structure. We want to ensure the long term survival of the NativeWeb
project as we feel it has many resources that benefit both Indigenous peoples and the general public.
zum Thema: Who supports NativeWeb financially?
Shane Caraveo: Currently NativeWeb is a volunteer based organization. All financial backing of the project is provided
by the primary members of NativeWeb. Our server and internet services are provided at no charge by WebYes,
a non-native ISP. We are currently in process of becoming a non-profit corporation so that we may begin to seek
funding from other organizations and the general public. This funding will be utilized so that we may focus more
time on expanding the features and capabilities of NativeWeb through providing many new services directed towards
Indigenous communities and organizations.
zum Thema: Native communities are known as some of the poorest communities within the United States. Are any
of them directly connected with NativeWeb?
Shane Caraveo: NativeWeb currently does not provide any form of internet service directly to native communities
or schools, though many are connected through other various methods. We are currently exploring several ideas that
may allow us to start providing some services directly to the communities we are involved with. These new programs
should take shape over the next year. Some of our members are involved with other organizations (not necessarily
associated with NativeWeb) which do currently work on helping communities get connected to the internet.
zum Thema: Can you give us some detailed examples?
Shane Caraveo: Most of our members are involved with their local communities, or in projects which directly serve
some segment of the native community. One example is Professor Peter d'Errico's work with Native American inmates
serving time in prison, and his work on land rights issues for several native nations in the U.S. Much of his work
is outlined in our legal section. Another member
recently added to our group, Patricia Aqiimuk Paul, JD is a mediation consultant, Attorney, and writer. She travels
and works in the geo-political realm of indigenous dispute resolution, lecturing and conducting research. Alan
Mandell is involved with the Nevada Indian Environmental Coalition (www.niec.net), which has connected over 17
communities in the state of Nevada. Many of our members are also involved in areas not directly related to the
Internet. Brief Bio's of our members are available on the NativeWeb site at http://www.nativeweb.org/info/
zum Thema: What are the main problems of NativeWeb at the moment?
Shane Caraveo: Probably the biggest problem we currently face is the lack of time our webmasters have. Everyone
in the NativeWeb group also have full time jobs elsewhere, making the creation of new services a slow process.
We're hoping that once we become a non-profit corporation, we'll be able to start pursuing grants and donations
to provide for our expenses, and pay for a couple of salaried positions. The additional focus full time employees
could provide would allow us to more quickly build and support some of the new services we have in mind.
zum Thema: Thank you for the interview.
Shane Caraveo is a System administrator
and site programmer/designer. Shane started getting involved with NativeWeb in 1994/95 through his working on environmental and human rights
issues, and started the Native Events Calendar. In 1997 he started taking a more active role in NativeWeb by rewriting
the site to use databases to help better organize the volume of data on the site. Shane is Mexican with both European
(Spanish, Italian, Polish, Swiss/German and more) and Native American ancestry (Otomi, Tarahumara, Yaqui), and
is not an enrolled member of any nation. He currently works as a private consultant designing database interfaces
for web sites.
"zum Thema:" Nr. 24, 30.12.1998