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How Commerce Continues to Connect Indian Country

In 2021, during Native American Heritage Month, President Biden signed the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) which provided over $65 billion to bring affordable, high-speed internet to every American. This funding also added an additional $2 billion to the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP) for broadband deployment on Tribal lands, as well as for telehealth, education, broadband affordability, and digital inclusion.

Administered by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA), the TBCP is improving connectivity on Tribal lands – including for Robyn Johnson, a citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

Robyn is a teacher who could not afford fast and reliable internet service which hindered her high school and elementary school-aged children from attending classes online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Robyn had to schedule who was going to be online at what times. Thanks to a grant provided by the TBCP to the Tribe’s Internet Service Provider, Robyn was able to afford faster and more reliable internet service. This allowed her the ability to do her work and her children to do their schoolwork without overloading the bandwidth.


Gabriel Tahy

Gabriel Tahy is another example of how funding from the Biden Administration’s Internet for All Initiative is changing lives. The inability to connect to high-speed internet within the Navajo Nation inhibited his ability to attend college. He was a student at Diné College, the first tribally controlled and accredited collegiate institution in the United States. He lives in the middle of the Navajo Nation surrounded by mesas blocking his cell phone reception and 5G service. Funding provided to Diné College gave them the ability to develop the Connect Navajo program, which has now improved internet access, provided hardware, invested in IT staff, and given Tahy a hot spot so he can advance his education.

Today 226 Tribal entities have received more than $1.86 billion in grants to support reliable, affordable high-speed Internet networks as well as devices and digital skills training on Tribal lands. In July, NTIA announced a second Notice of Funding Opportunity totaling nearly $1 billion. Applications are due January 23, 2024.

“This Native American Heritage Month is a reminder of President Biden’s unprecedented commitment to close the digital divide in Native communities,” said Secretary Raimondo. “Two years ago, he signed the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law which continues to provide reliable, affordable high-speed Internet to Tribal communities across America.”

The Biden Administration remains committed to closing the digital divide across all American communities—including Tribal communities—regardless of their income, race, religion, or zip code. Learn more about results over the past two years from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law