I have found myself working on a small project for reproducibly deploying free software for tribal administration. While this is being worked on for a single nation at the moment, the broader goal would be to make it very easy for any nation to deploy and use existing free software desktops, software packages, and services for all common functions, offering far great cost efficiency, privacy, and security. I do already have some specific ideas of what we would choose to deploy and use, but I would be happy to hear all other ideas on this, as well as offering a call for participation, whether by other people interested in helping with this, or by other nations who might wish to do similar.
I will be happy to later write about things like how we are putting together desktops and services, but for now I would like to say something of some of the unique challenges faced in doing this project.
Often for the American Indian living in the United States, especially on reservation, it is not that uncommon to not have experienced such things taken for granted by so many elsewhere, such as simply having access to electricity or running water at home. This was never a matter of choice. On some reservations average lifespan can be as short as 47 years, and yes, this is shorter than those living in Haiti. Even those who were not held on reservation often come from families that had faced many decades extreme poverty and open racism where they do live, and for many that had experienced this, it has not changed very much even to this day.
The particular national council involved in this project is not based on a reservation, but we do not have any form of broadband or digital wireless offered or available where the people do live and where the tribal offices are maintained. Analog phone lines and dialup has been the only means to communicate with the outside world. This of course puts a different perspective of what is needed to establish a working infrastructure, and effectively kills ideas like "internet connected" desktops and cloud services. Even having to do a simple debian update can become a major challenge.
Given this, I pose it as a challenge to the community as a whole, as well as simply a technical question, of how to make the benefits of free software desktops and services available and usable even to those under the most difficult of circumstances. I look forward to any discussion about this or about other similar efforts.