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Cherokee Nation Launches Connectivity Survey and Free Mobile Hotspot Program
Published: November 25th, 2020
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation recently launched a new connectivity survey and a $3 million program to provide connectivity to Cherokee households lacking Internet access to assist in overcoming some of the virtual challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, Dec. 11.
The connectivity survey will provide Cherokee Nation the data to make informed decisions on the best way to improve Internet access for its citizens. It also allows families currently lacking Internet at home or an existing mobile Wi-Fi device, the opportunity to qualify and apply for the Respond, Recover and Rebuild Mobile Hotspot Connectivity Assistance.
The online application is available at www.cherokee.org under the yellow Respond, Recover and Rebuild Mobile Hotspot Connectivity Assistance Program tab.
“The Cherokee Nation is faced with the ongoing digital divide that cripples Cherokee students, families and elders from having the connectivity they need to thrive,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “This program is designed to deliver a temporary solution to Cherokee households lacking another Internet option, and it’s also giving us meaningful information as we develop the long-term plan of bringing affordable, reliable broadband to Cherokee communities.”
The RRR Mobile Hotspot Connectivity Assistance program will provide households lacking Internet with a mobile hotspot including up to a year of service, which is valued at more than $900.
Simply start by completing the survey. If determined a household may qualify, respondents will be prompted to fill out a short application.
The program is open to Cherokee households both inside the reservation and at-large within the United States, and there are no income requirements. Due to limited supply, priority will be given to Cherokee households with K-12 students. A cellular solution may not work for every household, but know the Cherokee Nation is hard at work expanding Internet connectivity options for its citizens.
Funding for the program is part of the Cherokee Nation’s COVID-19 Respond, Recover and Rebuild efforts announced by Principal Chief Hoskin.
“During the pandemic, the Cherokee Nation launched the largest emergency food distribution effort in our tribe’s history to fight food insecurities and delivering more than 30,000 boxes of food in our communities,” Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner said. “A vital role in that effort was communicating all the delivery sites and events to our elders and citizens. Many of them do not have access to the Internet and Wi-Fi capability. This survey and connectivity option can help us bridge these gaps so that we can reach our citizens more quickly with important messaging they need.”
The mobile hotspots are powered by AT&T’s cellular network. Cherokee Nation will ship the devices directly to households. Please ensure all information in the application is correct before submitting.
Those who need assistance with the online application process or who need additional information can email Cherokee-Connect@cherokee.org
Open article at Anadisgoi.com
Cherokee Nation working to improve access to broadband
Published: August 21st, 2020
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation is working to improve access to quality, affordable broadband for its citizens throughout the reservation boundaries with a new grant and with leadership advocating for Indian Country on a number of federal broadband advisory boards.
The tribe is among 23 federally recognized tribes receiving a $50,000 broadband grant to evaluate broadband expansion within their communities. The National Tribal Broadband Grant was awarded from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Indian Affairs Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development to conduct a broadband feasibility study of the most rural parts of the Cherokee Nation.
With the funding, Cherokee Nation and other tribal recipients can hire qualified consulting firms to research the potential implementation and expansion opportunities for broadband throughout its communities.
“More than half of the Cherokee Nation reservation is made up of rural communities. Hundreds of Cherokee families reside in areas that lack adequate access to the internet,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance and need for our communities to have reliable high-speed internet allowing us to disseminate vital service and safety communications. In recent months Cherokee Nation Health Services has vastly expanded its use of telemedicine and teledentistry, and Cherokees across the world are consistently engaging online in an effort to stay connected to our community, culture, heritage and language. This grant will allow us to partner with the best consultants to help us enhance and expand broadband capabilities that will change how Cherokees communicate for decades.”
The National Tribal Broadband program was created to help boost economic development and self-employment opportunities as well as enhance educational remote learning opportunities and other emergency communication capacities by bringing broadband services to Native American communities that lack them. This allows the tribe to hire a private consulting or engineering firm to conduct broadband feasibility studies. The study can include assessing current broadband services that are already available in certain communities; engineering evaluations of new and expanded broadband services; estimates of the cost of building and expanding broadband networks; determination of the transmission mediums to be employed, through digital subscriber line, cable modem, fiber, wireless, satellite and broadband-over-power lines; identification of potential funding and financing for networks; and consideration of financial and practical risks associated with developing broadband systems.
“With access to quality broadband, we can bridge the digital divide. This grant allows us to take a major step forward in our efforts to provide reliable broadband services across the Cherokee Nation reservation,” Cherokee Nation Government Relations Executive Director and Cherokee Nation Businesses Vice President of Government Relations Kim Teehee said. “With this ongoing pandemic, quality broadband will ensure the safety of Cherokee families, many of whom fall into the vulnerable population of being susceptible to the COVID-19 illness. Internet access will allow more elders to see a doctor through telehealth, more students to learn virtually, and more families to remain connected to the community. This grant also allows us to evaluate the existing infrastructure and services to make more informed decisions on how to best improve access for Cherokee citizens.”
Of the 55 applicants vying for the National Tribal Broadband grant, 23 proposals were selected. Submissions were rated largely on the potential positive impacts broadband could bring to their tribal community.
Cherokee Nation government officials are also working across various committees of the Federal Communications Commission to help strengthen broadband opportunities for Cherokee Nation communities and all of Indian Country.
Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Tina Glory Jordan was recently appointed to the Federal Communications Commission’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee. The advisory committee includes elected and appointed officials from municipal, county, state and tribal governments. The members provide guidance, expertise and recommendations to the Commission on telecommunication issues.
Jordan will serve on the advisory committee for a two-year term, with the option for the commission to reauthorize for an additional two-year period. She is one of four Native American tribal representatives to be appointed to the committee.
“It is truly an honor to have been selected to serve on the Federal Communications Commission advisory committee,” said Jordan. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to share some of the broadband issues we face here in the Cherokee Nation and how we are working to bridge those gaps. Native American communities across the country have unique needs in terms of modernizing their telecommunications infrastructure and I am excited to work alongside the other Native American representatives to help be a voice for quality and affordable broadband in Indian Country.”
Cherokee Nation Businesses Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President of Information Technology Todd Gourd, was also recently appointed to the Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group of the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, and Cherokee Nation Registrar Frankie Hargis currently serves on the FCC’s Native Nations Communications Task Force.
Published: July 17th, 2020
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Leaders of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes met for their quarterly meeting July 10, for the first time via videoconference as a precaution due to COVID-19.
Tribal leaders gave COVID-19 updates and unanimously passed a resolution to support legislation by U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) and U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) that would provide a total of $300 million for tribal broadband improvements throughout Indian Country.
Cole and Haaland co-chair the Congressional Native American Caucus and recently introduced the COVID-19 Disaster in Indian Country Act, aimed at providing tribes with funding and access to deploy wireless networks across tribal lands.
Estimates show roughly 35 percent of households on tribal lands do not have quality access to broadband Internet service, compared to 8 percent of households on non-tribal lands. This disparity is even more evident as tribes attempt to digitally deliver services to their citizens amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Five Tribes have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic from Day 1 providing essential services to their citizens including health care, food, housing, public safety, and education,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., who serves as President of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes. “Though social-distancing is one of the best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19, tribes must continue to offer critical services during a global pandemic without putting our citizens at risk. This is why the COVID-19 Disaster in Indian Country Act authored by Congressman Cole and Congresswoman Haaland is so vital to Indian Country. If the Act is passed, these funds would allow tribes to expand direct services to citizens through digital platforms, helping to minimize health risks to the most vulnerable among us.”
During the council meeting, leaders of the Five Tribes each addressed the steps that have been taken during the pandemic to keep services operating for tribal citizens, especially elders and youth, who are often the most vulnerable in times of crisis.
“Having technology has given us the tools we need to be able to connect and communicate anytime, but particularly right now when we can’t get together,” said Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby. “While our offices and businesses were closed as a result of COVID-19, the core programs and services that the tribe offers continued to operate during this shelter-at-home period. We modified our delivery of services, such as drive-through and using virtual platforms. We have been able to provide services safely and effectively.”
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill said there is “no play book” on how to respond during a global pandemic such as COVID-19, but tribal services have adapted to meet the needs of citizens, from nutrition and food distribution to health care and other necessities.
“We have had challenges but continue to provide effective and efficient services to the citizens while abiding by CDC guidelines and practicing social-distancing,” said Chief Hill. “We were able to still pay employees in gaming and at our tribal headquarters. I also cannot say enough about our health department and their hard work through this pandemic. They were serving on the frontline, working day and night to assist citizens who utilize our clinics and hospitals.”
Seminole Nation Chief Greg Chilcoat said the tribe declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 on March 20, then focused on keeping essential services up and running, such as health care, elder services, transportation and social services.
“This pandemic has created a very difficult situation for all of us. It has created challenges we are definitely not used to, and it’s changed the way we’ve operated,” said Chief Chilcoat. “But I applaud those who continued to work to keep our programs intact during this time of concern. I applaud them for their services to their people and the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. Now we will begin to look at how we can be efficient and effective with our CARES Act funding, focusing on prevention, preparedness and response as we move forward.”
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton said the tribe is leaning on virtual technology and other innovative solutions to keep providing services for tribal citizens during these unprecedented times.
“This pandemic has really caused us to think outside the box and be more creative,” said Chief Batton. “During this pandemic, our services to tribal members never stopped, and we continued paying employees throughout this time. Now, as we received CARES Act funding, we are going to continue doing positive things for our tribal members.”
Chief Hoskin reiterated that no Cherokee Nation or Cherokee Nation Businesses employee went without a paycheck when the tribe temporarily suspended gaming operations and asked most government employees to either work at home or go on paid administrative leave to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Like other tribes, we adapted to the situation and found unique ways to meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens, all while doing everything within our power to keep employees and citizens safe,” Chief Hoskins said. “Despite all of our challenges, I have said from the very beginning that we will all get through this together. I believe that is true in the Cherokee Nation, and I believe that is true here among the Five Tribes and across Indian Country.”
During the meeting, the Council also unanimously reaffirmed its 2013 resolution that opposed the use of a derogatory team name by Washington, D.C.’s NFL franchise and urged the team to rebrand.
The Washington NFL franchise has since announced that it is officially retiring its team name and logo.
The council also approved a resolution urging citizens of the Five Tribes to vote in upcoming 2020 elections. The resolution states voting “is a powerful tool through which tribal citizens can strengthen the rights of their respective tribal nations and create respect for tribal sovereignty at the local, state and federal levels.”
Guest speakers included Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Charles McCall; Tyler Fish, White House Council on Native American Affairs; and Rear Adm. Michael Weahkee, Director of Indian Health Service.
The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes is an organization comprised of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), and Seminole Nations representing 790,000 tribal citizens throughout the United States.
Open article at Anadisgoi.com