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Technology is the future of business, and tribes and native individuals are doing their part to stay ahead of the curve. We reflect on five of our best tech stories of 2018.

1) Essentially a digital architect, Joseph Bergen builds the infrastructure that allows BuzzFeed editors to use tech tools with ease.  

As Joseph Bergen (Navajo), Senior Software Engineer at BuzzFeed, puts it: “Technology changes so quickly. You can feel out-of-date very quickly. I find that the best way to stay on top of things is to teach other people,” he told Native Business Magazine.

“The business model at BuzzFeed is really reliant on being cutting-edge and understanding what people want and what people like—today and also tomorrow. We have to set those trends, but also adapt very quickly.”

Bergen, who was raised on the Navajo Reservation until age 8, encourages Native youth intrigued by tech or coding, regardless of limited resources, to stay focused and not get derailed by challenges. Learning to code and navigate technology wasn’t simple for Bergen.

“I kept failing and failing, but I kept trying,” Bergen said. “I think that the biggest piece of advice I can give is that persistence really pays off.”

Read the full article: Get to Know the Navajo Creating BuzzFeed’s Digital Tools

2) Cherokee Nation Strategic Programs will support United States Marine Corps teams in developing and refining the military’s countering capabilities against commercially available unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Through data-intensive mapping and advanced imagery, Cherokee Nation Strategic Programs (CNSP), a subsidiary of Cherokee Nation Businesses, can detect, track and identify unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Most recently, CNSP joined the United States Marine Corps to defeat the possible use of unmanned aerial systems by counterforces.

Over the next five years, CNSP will provide UAS operator support, data analysis, training and evaluation, as well as purchasing and configuration support for equipment.

“It is an exceptional honor to help protect the brave men and women who serve on the battlefield,” said Steven Bilby, president of Cherokee Nation’s diversified businesses. “This collaboration is further demonstration of how our company’s versatile capabilities, combined with our employees’ skills and expertise, continually place us and our partnering agencies at the forefront of developing technologies and industries.”

Read the full article: Cherokee Nation & Marine Corps to Counter Unmanned Aerial Threats

3) Tara Rush, an administrative business partner at Google Canada, teaches indigenous communities how to map and monitor their lands.

The purpose of the mapping workshops—led by Rush and a Canadian-based Aboriginal research organization called The Firelight Group—are to help indigenous communities “visualize their land, water, and cultural resources so we can make better-informed decisions about community development,” Rush told Native Business Magazine.

She provides instruction on Google web tools including Google Earth and Google Maps that help tribal stakeholders identify critical geographical areas, such as hunting grounds or fishing zones, and to tell the stories of those places and their indigenous homelands with images, video and more. 

Read the full article: Google Employee Tara Rush Helps Indigenous Communities Map Their Lands

Tara Rush, Kanien’kehá:ka from Akwesasne: “Since 2014, with the support of my colleagues, we have lead mapping workshops with various Indigenous communities across Canada. During that time, we’ve been asked why Indigenous Lands aren’t on Google Maps. So we set out to make that happen.” (Courtesy Tara Rush / Google Canada)

4) This year, Megan Smith, the first female Chief Technology Officer of the United States and former Google Vice President, spoke to members of the Coeur d’Alene tribe about the technological and economics advantages of “Inspire Idaho” (InspireID).

The online curriculum is designed to give people access to the trillion-dollar app economy from their own homes. “Everybody needs a digital team, and all these jobs are open, and they pay 50 percent more than the average American salary,” Smith pitched.

Though not designed specifically for tribal use, it was meant to give the people of Idaho opportunity that, to date, had largely passed them by. And it is meant to be inclusive, according to Smith, who was part of a 20-city tour to demonstrate that “coding is in everyone’s blood,” even in the far reaches of Indian Country.

Read the full article: Coeur d’Alene Members Get Access to Trillion-Dollar App Economy

A first of its kind program in the United States, the program launched in June 2018 with the objective of making a 12-month, 180-hour Apple’s Everyone Can Code app development program accessible to 140 participants in five Idaho cities, one of which was Plummer, Idaho, located in the heart of the Coeur d’Alene Reservation.

5) How do you spell “determination?” You might want to start with Danielle Forward.

A member of the Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians (Makahmo Pomo) in northern California, Danielle grew up in a resource poor environment, she shared with Native Business Magazine. It took Forward 10 years to earn her BFA because she had to work to support herself through school, including financing that venture herself.

She’s now 18 months into her dream job at Facebook, where she designs tools for Facebook Connectivity products.

She’s also the founder of Natives Rising created to “help move Native folks enter the tech industry with the support I never had, and to think about broader internet connectivity initiatives for rural indigenous in North America,” Forward shared.

In addition, she is a lead for Native@Facebook, an internal group of indigenous employees and allies at Facebook whose mission is to build its indigenous community and celebrate and discuss indigenous cultures and news.

Read the full article: Fast Forward: Facebook Catches a Rising Star

Danielle Forward (Courtesy Forward)

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