Connecting with the TeePee app

Vincent Schilling

Miguel Douglas saw a digital solution for an ever-changing Indigenous directory

Miguel Douglas, Puyallup, was unhappy with costs involved every time he was tasked to print out his tribe’s directory. After sending it out, recipients would soon have to print additional changes or make corrections.

So last December, Douglas released the “TeePee - An Indigenous Directory” app on the iOS platform for iPads and iPhones.

“TeePee” is “an iOS mobile app that easily allows tribal communities and individuals to search and find detailed information on all 573 federally recognized tribes and all significant tribal organizations and Alaskan corporations,” Douglas said.

TeePee - Headshot

In the app, detailed and constantly updated information provided by “TeePee” includes the name of the tribe separated by regions of the United States, and also includes leaders of the tribe, the address, phone number, fax number, email address, website, and social media channels of each respective tribe and tribal organization.

Douglas shared his reason for getting the app to the iPad and iPhone.

“This all started as a digital directory for my tribe in 2016. Initially, we had a printed version. But printing costs money, and after it was printed, a director of a program, for example, would change their information, which caused us having to reprint several pages on several occasions,” said Douglas. “Departments move, their addresses or information would change, and they would have to be updated. So I thought, this could be a digital directory. Updating my tribal directory digitally was a solution to my problem. Thus, I thought of an app for all the tribes in the U.S.”

Douglas also said Android development, the other essential half of the digital mobile world, is currently in the works.

“I am working on an Android version now, I have been researching Java Script, Android and Apple are two different programming languages - so I started off in Apple. I know there is a huge base and following for Android, it is about 50/50 as far as I have seen and getting it to people in both formats is ideal.”

Douglas said the time it took to create the app was under a year, but involved a lot of research on his part, but even now, it is an app that will continue to grow.

TeePee

“There were about 8 months of research I did to include a lot of library research on Native tribes, and their history,” said Douglas.

“It is an evolving project, and at this point, it contains facts — Info and historical backgrounds about tribes — as well as websites, phone numbers, emails, and social media. I think social media is important to follow the tribal nations and looking at Indigenous communities in today’s digital world.”

“Some of my tribal members have said it was a great expansion idea. It helps anyone who is interested, Native and non-Native, college students wishing to do active research, and more. Some tribal members were really proud that such a concept stemmed from one of their fellow members. Public comments outside of the tribe have said that it saves them so much time having such a resource, is an educational tool, as well as being beautifully designed and simple to use.”

Douglas says he realizes things can change quickly, as leadership changes with elections and more, and there are links to email him with updates on the app as well as his website.

“I personally will continue to update every year,” says Douglas.

Overall, Douglas says the app is a great way for people to connect with Indian Country. It also isn’t expensive at $4.99 for a one-time purchase, and there are no subscription fees.

“I really think it is a great way to link communities together, the same as Indian Country Today. This app is designed to have tribal people to connect more effectively. Everyone is using a cell phone these days and a smartphone is where people are getting their information.”

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“My TeePee app is a way for people to get information together. It helps people that may have wanted to connect with a tribe. This is a way to connect It’s about bridging people together."

"Not being connected stems from colonialism. Historically, we were broken up, placed on the rez, and had to deal with things ourselves,” he says.

“This is an app designed for this digital realm, to bring us back together again.”

To download the app: https://apple.co/2OCoKkw

You can also share updates on Douglas’ website at migueldouglas.com

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