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k12openminds07: Donating an XO to the Navajo People

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If you were among the fortunate few who attended the K12 Open Minds Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, this past October, then you may remember an impassioned speech given during lunch on the second day. The speaker was Claudia Edgewater, a member of the Navajo People, and she spoke eloquently about the need for more educational resources for her people, and the promise she hoped that open technologies such as open-source offered to help educate young Navajo children.

I don’t recall her exact words. I didn’t need too, for as soon as I learned she was a Navajo after I went over to talk with her a few minutes later, I immediately understood that parts of the Navajo Reservation were as poor today as they were fifty years ago when I was raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I remember asking her to send me an email, or perhaps I asked her to write down her email address, as I wanted to see if there was some way I could help.

Nothing happened until a few weeks ago, when I learned of the “Give 1 Get 1” Program. I then decided that the best thing I could do would be to directly donate an XO laptop to the Navajo People.

I then set about finding her. A search of Google indicated she was a professional Rodeo Rider in addition to being an educator, so after sending a few notes off to various folks I finally received the following note from Claudia a few days back:

Hello Dr. Shields,

This is Claudia Edgewater. It’s amazing how helpful Technology is, huh? Yes, I attended the Open Minds Conference in Indianapolis, IN, back in October. I apologize for the delay for the past couple of days, I have been out of the office for several days. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,
Claudia Edgewater

I have thus just ordered my tenth XO laptop. Five will be sent abroad by the OLPC folks for use by children sorely in need of a better education. The five I will get will be distributed as follows:

Three of my donations will go outside the United States. I did this because only residents of the U.S. and Canada can participate in the “Give 1 Get 1” program, so I felt an obligation to provide some to people sorely in need of them, and perhaps even willing to pay for them as was the case for Sahana, but unable to order them since they didn’t qualify.

The fourth will remain in this country, somewhere on the lands of the Navajo People, some of which are as poor and underdeveloped as any third-world country.

Let me close with an open letter that I will then copy to Claudia:


Dear Claudia,

My wife Karin and I would like to donate one XO Laptop to the people of the Navajo Nation. It should arrive in January, so if you tell us where to send it, we will send it your way as soon as it arrives.

I was raised in Albuquerque. I have also visited Fort Union. I fully appreciate that The Long Walk of the Navajos that began well over a century ago will continue for centuries to come, and hope that this modest donation will provide some assistance on your journey.

I recall vividly the day as a child growing up in Albuquerque when I finally figured which direction was which. I was standing in a playground at Bandelier Elementary School, and realized that if I faced Sandia Mountain then I was looking East. To my left was Santa Fe and the Sangra de Cristos Mountains. (I am left-handed, and that is also how I learned to tell right from left: left was towards Santa Fe.) Behind me, to the West, was Grants and nearby Mount Taylor. To my right, South, was Socorro.

During my last full summer in Albuquerque I rented a small apartment near the airport. It had an extraordinary view: just by turning I could see all those mountains, including some near Socorro. To the West was Mount Taylor, about seventy miles away.

I now know, courtesy of Wikipedia: Mount Taylor, that what I call Mount Taylor your people call “Tsoodził” :

Tsoodził, the turquoise mountain, one of the four sacred mountains marking the cardinal directions and the boundaries of the Dinetah, the traditional Navajo homeland. Mount Taylor marks the southern boundary, and is associated with the direction south and the color blue; it is gendered female. In Navajo mythology, First Man created the sacred mountains from soil from the Fourth World, together with sacred matter, as replicas of mountains from that world. He fastened Mount Taylor to the earth with a stone knife. The supernatural beings Black God, Turquoise Boy, and Turquoise Girl are said to reside on the mountain. Also, both the Laguna and the Acoma peoples consider it to be sacred.

I trust you will share with me the satisfaction that will come when we both know that an XO, one of those “little green boxes,” will be within viewing range of your blue turquoise mountain.

thanks,
dave

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Written by daveshields

December 20, 2007 at 8:53 pm

Posted in xo-laptop

5 Responses

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  1. […] Tithing XO Laptops Posted in xo-laptop by daveshields on December 20th, 2007 I have just ordered my tenth XO laptop, as noted in k12openminds07: Donating an XO to the Navajo People. […]

  2. Mr. Shields, (Claudia’s husband Jeff on this end! )

    Thank you so much for the kind words about Claudia and her impassioned speech. The XO laptop is a wonderful concept and perfect for the poor here on the reservation. I write grants, work for LeapFrog Schoolhouse and raise horses and no one can seem to grasp the concept of poor in America!

    Quick story on Claudia…three weeks ago she volunteered for bus duty. She rode about 3 hours to various homes and was appalled by the lack of electricity, plumbing, and basic necessities many of her students experienced. Claudia took a Leapster Learning computer game along – looks like a nintendo but is educational and fun (oh no!). The one little boy from the poorest home just was enthralled.

    That being said – I know that your computer gift will be used to the max! I know Claudia is thrilled and I sent a quick article to the Navajo Times editor.

    Thank you!

    Jeff

    Jeffrey Lors

    January 9, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    • This was such a great program

      Jeffrey Lors

      July 24, 2012 at 11:11 pm

  3. I was so excited to see a wonderful package from you when I returned after a month of being on the road barrel racing! I went to the post office today and picked up the laptop!

    I met with our principal and we decided to have a poster contest as a way of giving out the laptop!

    I promise to keep you informed – it should be in our local Navajo Times in a week!

    Thank you so much!

    Claudia Edgewater

    Claudia Edgewater

    June 24, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    • This was such a great program!
      Jeffrey Lors

      Jeffrey Lors

      July 24, 2012 at 11:11 pm


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