- By Nina Shapiro -- Seattle Times
Colville tribal leaders aren't waiting on corporate America. When it comes to providing broadband, "nobody else is going to do it," said Damon Day, the Colville Reservation’s chief information officer and a member of the federal Native Nations Communications Task Force. "We learned that the hard way."
This article is an excerpt from an article originally published by The Seattle Times, produced as part of the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2021 National Fellowship. Read the entire article here.
So Colville leaders resolved to build their own system. Over the past year, using COVID relief funds and a radio frequency license the FCC granted to more than 150 tribes nationwide, Colville officials have been putting up towers for wireless broadband and handing out devices to receive signals at home.
They've made the service free, and have prioritized families with school kids, aiming to have most people online by 2026, according to Tiffany Circle, in the Colville Reservation's IT department.
At the same time, the tribes set about finishing a project they've been working on for years, putting in fiber along Highway 155 between Nespelem and Omak. What's more, Day said, "At some point, the tribes are going to stand up an internet service provider company."
The tribes were going to "swing for the fences," he said, requesting tens of millions more dollars in federal funding. As he was explaining that, talking by cellphone while driving on a remote road, the call dropped.
They are making progress, Day managed to convey before that, but there is a lot of work yet to do.
Read more here.
Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news?
For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW), the attacks on tribal sovereignty at the Supreme Court and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.
Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Please consider a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10 to help fund us throughout the year. Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.