Friday, July 14, 2000

Court gives kids access to new world

Internet may link Lakota Nation to local namesake school district

By Mara H. Gottfried
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Seventy extra computers could have sat in a storage room in Cincinnati's federal courthouse, accumulating dust. But they're not.

        Instead, the computers leave this morning for a more than 1,000-mile trek to a South Dakota Indian reservation. Children there whose families generally cannot afford computers will now have access to them.

        The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is donating the surplus computers, but the woman behind the project is Tina Crowe, who supervises the national evidence depository for the silicone breast-implant litigation.

        After a judge's law clerk suggested that surplus computers could be donated to an Indian reservation, she took the initiative two years ago and sent them to the Red Cloud Mission School at Pine Ridge, S.D.

        Now she's doing it again. This time the computers go to the Big Bear School Dis trict on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, home of the Lakota Indian Nation.

        “They're very, very poor and this would be a luxury for them,” Ms. Crowe said. “The kids on the reservation are so isolated and so many of them have never even been off the reservation, but they're very interested in what life is like off the reservation.”

        Ms. Crowe hopes Big Bear's youngsters will have the chance to find out. She envisions a link will be established via the Internet between the Lakota Indian children and the Lakota School District in Butler County, where her daughter is a student.

        “Students here will be able to get online and ask, "Do you wear your hair long? Do you still live in tepees?'” Ms. Crowe said. “They won't have to look it up in a history book, and they won't have to regard the Indians as a mythological people.”

        Four Lakota East High School students volunteered to help pack the computers Thursday. Mike Bush, 17, said the project is a great idea.

        “People who have com puters sometimes forget that other people can't afford them,” he said. “This should give the kids a new chance to communicate.”

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