In this photo made Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009, Valerie Fast Horse, information technology director for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe in northern Idaho, poses for a photo in the tribe's computer server room in Plummer, Idaho. The Indian tribe currently operates its own wireless network for tribal members and community residents, but that network is overloaded by current demand and the tribe hopes to build a faster fiber network and is one of nearly 2,200 applicants for the first $4 billion of a $7.2-billion pot of stimulus money earmarked for building broadband networks. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Boise State Honors Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s 'Technology Visionary'

ICTMN Staff
4/4/11

The Boise State University Women's Center recently honored the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s director of information technology, Valerie Fast Horse, as one of its 2011 Women Making History.

Lauded by Chief Allan, the tribe’s chairman, as a “technological visionary,” Fast Horse is “helping bridge the digital divide in Indian Country,” he said, reported The Spokesman-Review.

Since spearheading the effort to bring wireless Internet service to the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in 2002, she is undertaking the $12.2 million project of upgrading to fiber optic Internet, reported The Spokesman-Review.

Fast Horse and her team are also the guiding force behind Rezkast.com, the $3.5 million broadband network built from scratch, according to yesmagazine.org.  Rezkast.com is essentially an online cultural forum that aims to preserve Coeur d’Alene tribal history, language and culture. Rezkast.com streams user-uploaded American Indian music, video and audio recordings, in addition to featuring photos, articles and games. "It’s based on a YouTube model," Fast Horse told The Spokesman-Review. "We have a language that is quickly going away. Only a handful of elders are left who grew up speaking the language."

In December, the tribe plans to launch KWIS 88.3 FM, a bilingual American Indian public radio station to serve the entire Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation and surrounding areas in Northern Idaho. "Over 6,500 people reside on the 345,000 square acre reservation, including both tribal and non-tribal populations. This station will provide first local origination and first bilingual minority radio service to approximately 20,000!" states the KWIS Facebook page.

Fast Horse, who served in the army for 10 years followed by a corporate career in computer technology, is always on the fast track. Future plans for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe involve harnessing "the power of multimedia, such as developing our own shows with locally and culturally relevant content," she told The Spokesman-Review. "I hope that someday we get a studio and we’re doing kids programs to teach language. Like 'Indian Barney' or 'Indian Sesame Street.' Or, developing video games or other applications for iPods and iPhones. You could have a game with a language component."

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