Thanks to the arrival of wireless technology, an early 19th century setting on the plains of North Dakota can be transmitted to 21st century classrooms across the country.
For the last three years, a 300-foot ethernet cable was the limiting factor for distance education beamed from Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. Now, with a special grant from the Connect Trails to Parks program, broadcasts can be made from almost any location in the 1,700-acre park.
With the park’s premier cultural resource – the remains of three Hidatsa Indian villages – spread throughout the park, distance learning has always remained a challenge. The addition of a point-to-point wireless system on the distance learning cart allows park rangers to broadcast directly from the village sites to a receiver on the visitor center roof.
Park officials note that "this effort will bring the history and culture of the Knife River Indian Villages into classrooms around the country. Students can enter into an earth lodge or see the layout of a village at this featured site along the Lewis and Clark Trail, just as the original explorers did more than 200 years ago. In addition, the wireless system allows rangers to broadcast from prescribed fires, archeological work, and other special events in the park."
The project was financed in part by the National Park Service’s Connect Trails to Parks program, commemorating both the National Park Service Centennial in 2016 and the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System in 2018.