That’s why we were so pleased that Cherokee Nation was awarded a $34 million federal grant through the U.S. Commerce Department’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. The funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will be used to install fiber optic lines and telecommunication infrastructure for high-speed internet service to reach rural households. More than 6,000 Cherokee households will soon be connected to their tribe, language, services, and family. Cherokee Nation’s new grant dollars will allow us to construct more than 240 miles of fiber connectivity, including telecommunications towers in a number of Cherokee communities currently lacking broadband in Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Cherokee and Sequoyah counties. These communities are home to a high concentration of Cherokee speakers, so giving them better tools to communicate is also essential to our language revitalization efforts. This is a generational opportunity. Access to broadband internet means that elders in rural areas will be able to stay in better contact with family no matter where they live, and younger people who want to stay in close-knit communities will find it easier to do that and still have opportunities to connect to the wider world. We will soon begin the engineering and design process, and construction of this life-changing broadband network is expected to begin in 2023. This initiative is just the beginning. We plan to use the network built through the $34 million grant as a hub for future broadband expansion throughout the Cherokee Nation Reservation. The digital divide that plagues Indian Country was keenly felt during the pandemic. We realized how essential access to affordable, reliable broadband was for the health of citizens, the education of our students and for our people to have access to remote jobs. We deployed nearly 11,000 mobile hotspots to Cherokee households lacking Internet access. The tribe also built more than 35 drive-up wi-fi locations in Cherokee communities across the reservation, allowing citizens without Internet access at home to connect while staying socially distanced. Tribes like the Cherokee Nation are in the best position to know the needs of our communities. With federal dollars and Cherokee hard work and expertise, we are building the digital infrastructure to have a Cherokee Nation Reservation where both traditional culture and modern economic opportunities can thrive. Broadband access can be the bridge between our past and our future.
The Cherokee Nation has been awarded $34M through @NTIAgov's Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, part of the $1.3B that has been provided to tribal entities. The grants will expand high-speed internet, improving access to education, jobs & health care. https://t.co/CiJ3fbQlD5— U.S. Commerce Dept. (@CommerceGov) October 17, 2022
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