By TRIBAL NEWS STAFF

The new and improved version of the Puyallup Tribe Directory is now available for free on the App Store.

In 2016, Puyallup Tribal member Miguel Douglas was visiting his mother when he noticed the stacks of out-of-date, print Tribal directories she had lying around. With Tribal employees leaving or contact information changing, these paper versions would be out of date in a couple of months. It made it difficult for Tribal members to access the information and services they needed. “I saw a gap that I wanted to fill for the community,” Douglas said.

He decided to take on a personal project and develop an app that would host the Puyallup Tribe Directory. The original version was available on iOS, and was a simple format that listed the different departments and employees. Even in its simplicity, the 2016 version was downloaded around 1,800 times.

Come 2018, Douglas decided to expand and revamp the Puyallup Tribal Directory app.

The updated version will be available on iOS and Android – meaning it will be accessible on all smart devices. Additional features include the ability to create accounts that connect to your Facebook or email address, allowing you to save frequently contacted departments in the Favorites page on the app. The update also displays department office hours and addresses, even connecting to your phone’s mapping system to give you instant directions.

As Douglas described, “You can download the app if you want to have everyone in the Tribe at your fingertips.”

Additionally, with your account you will be able to post reviews on Tribal departments. Whether you had a positive or negative experience, you
can share your thoughts to help the department improve in the future. Douglas will be managing reviews on the backend, removing harassment and ensuring feedback remains constructive.

What else can we expect? Douglas says more updates are sure to come. For one, he hopes to add department directors’ names and contacts in the coming months. “This app will continuously evolve,” he said. “I don’t see this as a project that will end.”

The Puyallup Tribe Directory will remain free for everyone to download – Tribal members and non-Tribal members alike. Douglas partly built the app for the various outside contractors, entities and governments that need to be in communication with Tribal departments.

Yet his main focus through building this was always his fellow Tribal members. “As a functional form of communication, I think it’s good to have something like this, especially for the membership,” Douglas said. As a member of multiple Tribal member Facebook groups, he noticed that many community members lacked information they needed to contact departments and access necessary services. While this information was already publicly available, Douglas found it needed to be more readily available. More so, he hopes this will build a bridge between Tribal membership and Tribal government.

Douglas and other young Puyallups like him are moving to embrace technology and connect communities in increasing ways. He relates it back to his Indigeneity: “It’s not necessarily oral tradition, but technology is a way to communicate.”

That said, new technology takes time to introduce, especially in tribal communities where many people and entities still rely on paper documents. An app is one way to ease technology into the Tribe’s vernacular; people already have their phones on them, and the Puyallup Tribe Directory will use no ads. Douglas hopes this can be a stepping stone to further integrating and utilize technology throughout the Tribal community.

Now, Douglas is working with Salish Cancer Center on updating their website. He also hopes to be involved in any future technological advancements in the Tribe.

What might those advancements be? Time will tell. Douglas hopes he can help other Tribe’s use this format to create their own directory apps, and tailor each reiteration to fit individual nation’s needs.

Creating an app is an intimidating process; as Douglas said, “You’re trying to transfer a concept into a digital format.” But he proves that even someone who is self-taught, like himself, can accomplish such a feat. His advice: Make it happen. “I waited for somebody to do something like this, but it never happened,” said Douglas. “I had to go out and do it myself.”

Puyallup Tribe Directory is available for download on the App Store today.