Marginalized and oppressed for centuries, indigenous peoples – native communities around the world often considered minorities by states – are seeking Internet autonomy. Encouraged by the opportunity to create new generic top level domains (gTLD), some activists want registration of their own Internet domain – [dot] indigi. But will they be able to overcome the financial challenge of the Internet?
The official campaign website is www.dotindigi.com, with support groups on Facebook and Google. The Dot Indigi project is headed by New Zealand’s native Maori activist Karaitiana Taiuru, who was appointed by the International Indigenous Task Force to lead the project. Mr. Taiuru was the first to break the news on February 5:
.indigi is a self governing generic Top Level Domain Name for the international Indigenous Peoples population to participate in their own self governing domain name.
Today we officially begun our publicity campaign[…]
Indigenous People's Issues Today gives more details about the project:
The Dot Indigi organization will apply to ICANN [Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers] for a new gTLD < .indigi> (or other if the community suggest a different version) to represent all indigenous groups of the world, thus removing the existing indigenous representation issues of the predominantly English DNS. The ability to include non English characters will be a priority at the 2nd and subsequent Levels.
The < .indigi> gTLD will offer registration at the 2nd Level Domain to indigenous organizations who would then govern their own domain name space and resell/distribute 3rd Level Domain names or retain a general project type name at the 2nd Level via the official .indigi registrars. Several other 2nd Level Domains will be made public to cater to indigenous individuals or smaller such groups who cannot justify the expense and set up of their own 2nd Level Domain.
For example: NZ [New Zealand] Māori may apply for .māori.indigi and create a new set of domain names to accommodate their culture. So say for Māori schools, there could be .kura.māori.indigi . Then Māori schools can have their name at the start of the address.
Singing to the Plants explains the process:
A top-level domain is the last part of an Internet domain name. The original set of these TLDs, defined in October 1984, is still the most familiar — .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, and .org, to which .net was added in the first implementation of the domain name system. Management of TLDs is in the hands of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which operates under contract to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Over the years, new TLDs — now called generic TLDs, to distinguish them from, say, country-code TLDs — have been added, and now .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro are all operational, even if not widely used. Several additional new gTLDs have been approved in principle, although only .mobi, for the delivery of the Internet to mobile devices, seems to have aroused much interest.
Most important, in June 2008, ICANN approved the recommendation of a new gTLD program which would allow just about any organization to apply to reserve its own gTLD. Under this system, for example, Microsoft could apply for .msn, Google for .google, or New York City for .nyc. The implementation plan for the new system is expected to be published in 2009. The plan must then be approved by the ICANN Board before the system is implemented. ICANN is currently aiming to receive applications for domains starting in the second quarter of 2009.
This new plan is now seen as an opportunity for indigenous peoples to have their own gTLDs — .taino, for example, or .shipibo. But applying for a gTLD requires significant resources of time, money, and expertise.
Although I applaud the idea and the effort, I admit to being steamed at ICANN that they have allowed a fee structure that blocks new TLDs for these, certainly among the most deserving applicants.