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October 15, 2013

Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation Adopts Teleconferencing

By David Delony
Contributing Writer

The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation will be adopting video conferencing, according to an article on the Indian Country Today Media Network.

The Eastern Band began using videoconferencing based on ClearSea in 2012 to make holding meetings easier. Principal Chief Michell Hicks wanted to improve attendance of his weekly meetings with his deputies.

Jeremy Brown, the tribe’s audio-visual administrator, settled on LifeSize (News - Alert) Clearsea. He chose it because it worked on mobile devices as well as desktop computers and users did not need to log in before holding video conferences. The system was successful, and now around 50 tribal employees use the system to regularly meet face-to-face.

“Cherokee people as a community are very personable. We enjoy face to face. And there are just a lot of times we have issues in getting things accomplished when we are sitting here talking into a cell phone,” Brown told Indian Country Today.

The Native American tribe employs around 1,100 people and covers more than 12,000 enrolled members. Most of them live near the town of Cherokee, North Carolina, which also happens to be the seat of the tribal government. Some members, however, live on the outskirts of the tribal boundary, which can be up to 60 miles away. Videoconferencing is useful for these people, especially in telemedicine applications.

“We have patients from my community of Snowbird that are making this drive. It’s about 45 minutes one way. Sometimes they have to come once a week, sometimes it’s twice a week, just to sit down and meet with their doctor,” Brown told Indian Country Today. “With the telehealth side of video conferencing, we can alleviate so much of that.”

The tribal police have also taken to videoconferencing. Benjamin Reed, the tribe’s police chief, said he preferred using it over the phone or texting, saying that some things were easier to explain in prison. The police also used the system to appeal directly to President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency after a landslide closed the main access road to the tribe’s casino last January, releasing Federal Emergency Management Agency resources to help with the cleanup.

The tribe has plans to expand its use of teleconferencing.

Edited by Ryan Sartor

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