The Shinnecock Indian Nation has received nearly $8.2 million in federal funding to build high-speed internet on its Southampton reservation and surrounding properties, tribal leaders said Friday.
The plan, which will be rolled out by 2024, will provide high-speed links to more than 500 connection points on the reservation and the homes of neighboring tribal members and government buildings for new high-speed fiber optic and wireless Internet connection. thread.
The tribe has been working on the complex plan to secure the funding for over a year, and this represents the largest single competitive grant received by the tribe.
Of the 536 connection points included in the plan, 301 will be homes of underserved tribal members, while another 60 will be homes near the territory, government buildings and “anchor institutions”, including its signpost. display on Sunrise Highway. The infrastructure will help create or improve programs such as distance learning and emergency communication, healthcare and commerce.
“This will dramatically enhance the lives and experiences of the Shinnecock Indian Nation,” said Randy King, Vice Chairman of Shinnecock’s Board of Directors.
King noted that over his decades in power, the tribe has gradually increased its technical capabilities, but the new grant will provide a quantum leap. “Now we are in a time where, in a global environment, these tools and resources are essential for us to be equal with everyone,” he said.
The funding comes from a tribal broadband connectivity program included in the Biden administration’s bipartisan infrastructure act, with local support from Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader.
“Reliable high-speed Internet access is not a luxury; it is a necessity to create well-paying jobs, to communicate, to access health care, to shop and to learn,” Schumer said in a statement.
A total of $224 million has been awarded to 18 tribal entities across the country under the program, and the award-funded projects “will directly connect 21,468 unserved Native American households that previously had no high internet connectivity. throughput as well as anchor businesses and institutions,” the administration said.
Matt Ballard, a tribal technical consultant, said it will also bring a level of training and jobs that will help tribal members compete in a competitive workplace.
“There is a shortage of programs and opportunities for kids like us,” he said. “Usually we get jobs that aren’t high-paying tech jobs. It’s another way for us to put our children in positions where they could do well and get well-paying jobs they can be proud of.
Kelly Dennis, tribal council member and secretary, and Tela Troge, director of tribal health and community services, did much of the legwork to secure the grant, a process that took over a year and provided a detailed roadmap to federal regulators to understand the scope of the tribe’s needs and the plan to adopt broadband as far as the tribe’s Westwoods property in Hampton Bays. Both women are tribal prosecutors.
Part of the plan includes the construction of two wireless communication towers that will provide high-speed service not only to tribal members not reached by the fiber optic line, but will help serve the surrounding community. Many areas of the East End have large gaps in internet and cellular service, Troge said.
“Our plan includes two cellular towers to dramatically improve cellular connectivity for our members and the surrounding community, benefiting the region, not just the Shinnecock Nation,” Troge said.
Dennis said the new telecommunications infrastructure will provide a huge connectivity boost for the tribe’s annual powwow, during which many tribal vendors use links to the internet for payment and other business connections.
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