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E-Snag: American Indian answer to online dating

SEQUIM, Wash. – American Indian singles looking for that special someone may now find a “snag” from the comfort of their home computers. For better or for worse, snagging has entered cyberspace. is the online dating service tailored to the Native American community and culture. The Web site was launched on Valentine’s Day 2006 after a year of creating and testing, said E-Snag founder David Underwood.

Underwood, who also owns the Pow Wow Cruise, said the idea for E-Snag came after his cruise business garnered interest in having a Native singles cruise. E-Snag was created out of a concern to have more equal balance between the number of men and women on the cruise.

Here’s how it works. For those who want to check out the site to see if it’s right for them, a free limited membership is offered. Prospective members fill out a personal profile and include a photo. The exclusive membership allows full access to the site’s features, and includes contact with other exclusive members and an internal private e-mail system.

“We review every profile, every change,” Underwood said. “Nobody can see your profile until we approve it.”

After a profile is approved, members receive registration confirmation via e-mail and are free to log in and search the site to view members and find matches. Underwood said “a couple dozen” marriages have resulted from matches on E-Snag.

One of the goals for the site was to make it as user-friendly as possible. “It’s a constant, ongoing process. Our biggest concern is security.”

He deletes and refuses about half of the membership applications for inappropriate language or photos, or for posting phone numbers. Underwood said keeping members’ privacy and maintaining a respectful tone is important to E-Snag. “We take what we do very seriously.”

He said his biggest challenge is getting people to understand that they have to make the effort to meet that special someone. “You can find someone who’s absolutely perfect for you.”

Underwood should know. In his 50s, he found himself suddenly single after his first marriage dissolved. “I just wasn’t into the clubs or dating scene.”

Underwood met his wife, Linda, through an online dating service.

E-Snag now has more than 13,000 members and is growing by the hour. The site averages 330 visits a day, Underwood said. Membership is open to everyone, including non-Native singles who would like to meet a single Native or aboriginal men and women. The site has drawn members from across the world, including Canada, Germany, France, Australia and Sweden. “We review an average of 60 to 100 profiles a day.”

According to Quantcast, an audience measurement service, the site appeals to a college educated, slightly female slanted audience and reaches an estimated 3,490 people per month. There is no age limit, but members must be at least 18 years old.

Underwood said cost is a big difference between E-Snag and the major online dating services. E-Snag members can expect to pay $9 to $15 per month, compared to $40 to $100 a month for other online dating services.

Although he has received some criticism for charging membership fees, Underwood said the fee helps eliminate the liars, cheaters and con artists often found on free sites. “It’s opened up the entire world in a good way and a bad way.”

Underwood offers simple advice for those who are seriously searching for an online love connection: “Be honest, and be yourself.”