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Tribal nations to receive funding for high-speed internet

 Workers install transmission equipment on Hermano Peak above Ute Mountain Ute tribal lands in 2014
Mark Duggan
Workers install transmission equipment on Hermano Peak above Ute Mountain Ute tribal lands in 2014

Tribal nations across the country will be receiving additional funding for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program put forth by the Department of Commerce.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is adding an additional $1 billion to the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, bringing the total funding available to almost $2 billion.

More than 300 applications were received during the first application window showing a significant need for high speed internet funding throughout Indian Country.

Five tribes in New Mexico are currently receiving $146 million in awards. One of those tribes is the Pueblo of Isleta tribe just outside of Albuquerque.

Governor of the tribe, Vernon Abeita, says they're receiving $26 million to help in part with connecting the tribe to better health care and educational needs.

"We're grateful about receiving this funding so we can provide this internet access to our tribal members so they can get the education they need. So we can go ahead and develop telehealth services for community members. And this is one of the things that we're very appreciative of, and that we are seeing this important shift within tribal nations and pueblos to have this broadband access within our communities," said Abeita.

According to the Biden Administration, roughly 470 tribes in 28 states have suggested that they would like to participate in the Digital Equity Planning Grant program.

The purpose of that program is to promote the achievement of digital equity and support digital inclusion on tribal entities.

Mitch Landrieu is the senior adviser to the President and White House infrastructure implementation coordinator. He says that this funding is going to continue to grow all across Indian country.

"Additional awards are going to reach tribes in many states. These funds are going to help tribes build broadband infrastructure that deliver high speed, reliable internet. The awards today are part of a much larger, bolder, concerted effort across the federal government to connect to every American no matter where they are, but including on tribal land, this bipartisan infrastructure, invest in additional $2 billion into the Tribal Broadband Connectivity program, tripling its funding," said Landrieu.

Throughout the month of August Landrieu says tribal applicants like tribal government, schools and utility companies will receive more than $500 million in grants.

The Department of Commerce says they'll be working with tribes in the coming months to submit applications and award funds. tribes that already submitted applications to the program will not need to reapply.

This story from KSUT Tribal Radio was shared with Aspen Public Radio via Rocky Mountain Community Radio, a network of public media stations in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico including Aspen Public Radio.

Copyright 2022 Aspen Public Radio . To see more, visit Aspen Public Radio.