Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 5, 2001 - Issue 35



One Year Later,
Myra Jodie, Who Introduced President Bill Clinton at Shiprock, Finally Gets Internet Access


 by By Nathan J. Tohtsoni The Navajo Times

STEAMBOAT, Ariz. (April 19, 2001) - If you ask 14-year-old Myra Jodie what has changed since she introduced then-President Bill Clinton in Shiprock last April, she'll say not much.

What has changed is she's a year wiser, a few inches taller, is a high school student, was featured in a national magazine, has been a guest on a TV game show ... and, oh yeah, she has Internet access in her Steamboat home.

Jodie came to national prominence when she won an iMac personal computer last year through while browsing the Internet at school in Ganado, Ariz.

What made her story unique was she did not have a telephone line at home and did not have access to the World Wide Web. It took several weeks before the now-defunct Internet company was able to contact her.

An article featured in the San Jose Mercury News explaining the ordeal caught the attention of Clinton.

On April 17, 2000, Jodie shared the stage - and limelight - with Clinton, President Kelsey Begaye and U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M. Clinton mentioned her by name in his speech.

"I still freak out - I actually met President Clinton," Jodie said as she worked on her algebra homework at home recently. "I haven't gotten used to it, all the reporters and everything. It's embarrassing when people say I saw your picture in the newspaper. Just when I thought it was all over, then when I got my phone, it was more attention again."

Five telecommunication companies contacted Jodie about providing her a phone after reading an article in the San Jose Mercury News stating that she still did not have Internet access a year after winning the computer.

On April 2, the Jodie home had a satellite phone installed compliments of Globalstar, a $3.2 billion global mobile telephone service company in San Jose, Calif.

Globalstar installed the satellite telephone free of charge. The company will also pay the first year of service with an option for another year depending on the household income.

Gordon Pereto, Globalstar manager of technical marketing services, said a company vice president read about Jodie in the San Jose newspaper. From there, they visited Steamboat to install the phone. Globalstar owns 48 Low Earth Orbiting satellites, which gives clear phone reception on six continents and over 100 countries.

"It'll work anywhere in the United States," Pereto said. "If she walks outside anywhere in Arizona, New Mexico, Canada, Mexico, with a clear view of the sky, she'll get a reception."

The home phone comes with a cellular phone, voice mail, speaker and built-in phone book. Although Jodie can now access the Internet, it's slower than what she's used to at Ganado High School.

"It's really slow," she said. "It goes up to a satellite and back to the Earth. It just takes awhile to get back - it takes forever."

It's still 'whoa'
Jodie lives with her mother, Marcella, and 16-year-old sister Marsha down a hilly six-mile dirt road northeast of the Steamboat Chapter House. Once a motorist exits Arizona 264, the phone lines extend not much farther from the highway.

There are three framed photos of that memorable afternoon a year ago hanging in the family living room. Positioned between two of them is a 2000 Superintendent's Technology Education plaque awarded to Jodie in May.

Having their own phone has been a blessing as well as a minor headache. In less than two weeks, Jodie has conducted three interviews over the phone.

Marsha said although her younger sister has taken the recognition in stride, Myra has been known to talk about it on occasion.

"She brags too much," Marsha said, teasing. Marsha did not accompany her sister to Shiprock.

"I sort of wanted to go at first, but then I changed my mind," she said. "I think I forgot. It really didn't bother me. After awhile, I didn't even care to go."

Jodie has been able to brag a little more after she was featured in Junior Scholastic magazine last year and as a guest on "To Tell the Truth."

In the game show, taped in Los Angeles, four celebrity guests had to guess which of three contestants was really her.

"There were two people who looked like me but they didn't act like me. They were imposters," Jodie said in describing the show.

For each incorrect vote of an imposter, Jodie won $1,000. She received one vote and a girl from California who was half Navajo and half Sioux received three votes. The three contestants split the $3,000.

"I've watched it myself. I was embarrassed, seeing myself on TV. It's like 'Whoa,'" Jodie said. "It was better (than introducing Clinton) because there wasn't a whole lot of a crowd there."

One question that a guest asked of Jodie was how many people reside on the Navajo Nation. She responded with 10,000 people and to this day, she's still unsure of the exact answer.

"It's probably like 10 million," said her cousin Sharilyn Wilson as they watched the video tape of the show April 12.

"Ten million," Jodie responded. "That's like half of the state of Arizona."

When Jodie learned that there are more than 8,000 people in the town where the momentous occasion occurred, she couldn't believe it. Out of embarrassment, she did not want to guess again on how many Navajos there are.

There were about 2,000 people - mostly Navajo - who attended Clinton's visit. Jodie did not return home that evening until about 1 a.m. She learned quickly that people were going to recognize her because when she walked into the Shiprock Burger King later that evening, people greeted her with, "Congratulations," "Great job" and "You're that little girl!"

A normal girl
Jodie and her mom were in Los Angeles from Aug. 11 to Aug. 13 when the game show was taped. They arrived in Albuquerque late Sunday evening. As a result, Jodie did not attend the first day of school and was dropped from an algebra class.

Her iMac computer sits in her bedroom next to a poster of her favorite musical band N'Sync. There are other posters, typical of a normal teen-age girl.

Jodie played freshman volleyball this fall. But just like any other 14-year-old, she's getting used to being the new girl at the high school. She hopes to attend Harvard or Norte Dame and study accounting.

"It feels weirder now that I'm at the high school," she said. "Everybody looks at you. I don't really talk about it at school, I just act like a normal girl."

As much as she may want to be a normal high school student, the public won't let her forget. A television station interviewed her at the school last week and in January, she was presented with an award in Shiprock where she was honored for introducing Clinton.



  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.



The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.