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April 02, 2013 06:03 PM

Internet Library Opens In Pine Ridge

Pine Ridge, SD

The Internet has made the world seem like a very small place. But it's a world that's been out of reach for many on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Now, a new Internet library in Pine Ridge is hoping to change that.

"Today I woke up in a good mood. I said good things are going to happen today," Shannon Trevino said.

That was even before Trevino knew Tuesday was the grand opening for the reservation's first public Internet library.

"This is the initial stage of it where we have eleven computers here where people, tribal members, can come out here and use our computers. Otherwise, there's a hot spot here and they can use that also," Native American Telecom's president Tom Reiman said.

The library will be open at least five days a week and Internet use is free.

"A lot of our tribal members can't afford it, so what we're trying to do is give our tribal members not only access to it but a stake in it," OST Economic Development's Lyle Jack said.

Soon, Native American Telecom hopes to expand service to the entire village of Pine Ridge and then the entire reservation. Tribal members will also receive a reduced rate for internet service in their homes.

"Maybe they want to set up internet based businesses, sell their goods on the internet, set up their own web pages," Jack said.

"We can do distance learning, we can help people get their high school educations here, there's just so many things we can do," Reiman said.

The hope is that getting more people online will bring this community closer together.

"That is how we all communicate.  Like, a friend of mine had some horses missing and they found his horses within a few hours all because of computers," Trevino said.

The progress isn't limited to Pine Ridge. Native American Telecom opened up a similar Internet library on the Crow Creek Reservation last week.

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