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  MHA Nation's Tribal Busineses Council Upgrades      
Communications System in Council Chambers
 -Photo by Glenda Embry
 
Council Steps into World of Information Technology - 21 Century Style
 
By Glenda Embry, Tribal Public Information Officer
 
   New Town - V. Judy Brugh had a vision for her people. Having recently graduated from the University of Mary, Bismarck with an MBA, she knew her tribal nation would have to learn the technology of the 21st century if they were to compete in a world of information technology that was developing rapidly and changing daily. Having been an administrative assistant for eight years to the 4-Bears council representative, she knew Council was just becoming comfortable with cell phones, faxes, conference calls and the Internet.
   In 2006 when the seat for 4-Bears representative came open Brugh decided to run for election and won her first 4-year term to the Tribal Business Council, she was selected to serve as Executive Secretary of the Tribal Business Council. In 2009, she began to pursue her vision of having a state of the art communications system in the Council chambers. She set her staff to researching different companies. They looked at state-of-the-art comparability. Brugh said they wanted the best, top of the line digital video streaming for the Council meetings that would link all six Segments of the Reservation. There are miles between Segments and Tribal Administration headquarters and Secretary Brugh wanted tribal members, especially elders out in the distant Segments to have the ability to participate fully in Council meetings while they remained in their home Segment. She knew the capability was there.
  Special Projects Manager Heath Knight from 4-Bears Representative and Executive Secretary V. Judy Brugh’s office seated next to the “brains” of the AVI communications system in the Tribal Business Council chambers.  
    In 2010, Brugh ran again for the 4-Bears seat and won. She was selected again to serve as Executive Secretary in Chairman Tex Hall’s administration and began to pursue her vision of having a state of the art communications center in the Tribal Business Council chambers. Working with then CEO Richard Mayer, Brugh and her staff selected a company called Audio Video, Inc. Systems or AVI from Bismarck. The company installs video conferencing systems. The system they selected was a Polycom system, a manufacture of video conferencing. The system is also called a green system because it cuts down on paperwork; work can be saved and archived immediately.  
   The system became operational in November 2011 and has already been used by the Legal Department. According to Heath Knight, Special Projects Manager in Brugh’s office, a California company met with the Legal Department on legal issues via teleconferencing. Several meetings occurred that saved the Legal Department time and the cost of travel, per diem, hotel and hourly rate of attorneys that the company would have charged. They saved over $15,000 - $20,000 per individual, said Knight. The system can also cut travel expenses for the Tribal Business Council and those wishing to present to the Council. If a company has the capability, they can do presentations to the Council from their own company boardroom via the polycom system.  
   The video conferencing system is set up in the community centers in White Shield, Mandaree, Twin Buttes and Parshall. The system is activated and controlled from the Tribal Administration headquarters in the chambers where the Secretary’s staff sits, by a machine called Crestron. Secretarial staff dials into an IP address at the community center to activate the system and controls the system..  
   Brugh said both the public and Tribal Business Council need to be educated more on the system. We have touch screen tablets that can be checked out by Council when they are on travel. They need a wireless card, Wi-Fi or Internet and they can video conference with headquarters from anywhere. The tribal members need to learn they can attend council meetings from their Segments. If they are on the Council agenda, they can go to their community center to discuss their issues with the Council from there. Tribal members can save their time and the expense of travel. We need to get word out there that this is possible, said Brugh. She said Hank Richardson and Kelly Baker from her staff are scanning and archiving documents and that both are instrumental along with Heath Knight in getting the system moving. The capabilities for the system are endless; our Judicial can utilize the system as well. According to AVI, it is top of the line and comparable to any system installed anywhere, said Knight.  
   
 
 
Three Affiliated Tribes
404 Frontage Road
New Town, ND 58763
701-627-4781