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Summit to focus on tribal broadband issues

A group of federal agencies have come together to help address internet access issues across Indian Country. The 2021 National Tribal Broadband Summit is scheduled to take place Sept. 17, Sept. 24 and Oct. 1 in a virtual format.

The event is designed to serve as a platform for leaders to share best practices, new ideas, and lessons learned from their real-world experience of bringing high-speed internet to tribal businesses, governments and homes, according to an Aug. 16 news release.

“Tribes have been left further behind in the digital divide than most areas of the country due to the consistent lack of infrastructure investment in Indian Country,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) said in a statement. “This summit represents an opportunity to leverage the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach to help ensure the federal government lives up to its responsibilities to tribal communities by bringing broadband to Indian Country, fueling economic development, and ensuring everyone has opportunities to succeed.”

Tribal lands are some of the most digitally disconnected areas in the U.S., where 1.5 million people lack basic broadband and wireless services, according to the Federal Communications Commission. The pandemic further exposed Indian Country’s lack of reliable broadband as students were forced to shift their learning online and others needed to transition to remote work.

Those expected to attend the summit include tribal leaders; representatives of tribal organizations, tribal colleges and universities, and schools and school districts serving under-connected Native students; tribal libraries, museums and cultural centers; private sector stakeholder organizations; and federal program managers and policymakers. Participants are also invited to submit best projects, programs, or initiatives in planning, constructing, delivering and using tribal broadband networks. Agencies participating in the event are the Department of the Interior, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce.

The summit is free. For more information and registration options, go to doi.gov/tribalbroadband.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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