Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana received a $2,499,947 grant through the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to expand access to internet services and increase Tribal citizens’ digital literacy.
“We are thrilled that the Tunica-Biloxi tribe recently won a competitive grant of $2.5 million from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) as part of their Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.” said Gov. Edwards. “It’s especially important that we work with underrepresented communities, like Tribal Communities who can benefit from a variety of federal funding resources. This investment from NTIA follows the recent $29 million grant to the Acadiana Planning Commission announced a couple of months ago to help over 22,000 unserved locations. Both awarded grants will accelerate our efforts to address our broadband challenges and is a testament to the leadership that a variety of stakeholders are playing to rapidly close the digital divide."
As part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, NTIA is distributing 19 grants, totaling nearly $77 million, across 10 states. According to NTIA, “the implementation of this project is expected to enable internet adoption activities, including telehealth, distance learning, affordable internet programs and digital inclusion efforts.”
“The Tribe has designed a three-prong approach to address the disproportionate challenges that prevent Tribal citizens from accessing and utilizing broadband services,” said Marshall Pierite, Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. “With this grant, Tribal seniors can receive telehealth and social services virtually, Tribal youth can attend classes remotely and Tribal citizens can apply for jobs and participate in other workforce development opportunities online. We believe better internet access is imperative to the continued development and success of our Tribe.”
“For far too long, Tribal Communities have been cut off from the benefits of high-speed internet, as well as the associated economic benefits that come with it. From running a business to taking online classes to scheduling a doctor’s appointment, the internet is a necessary tool for participating in our modern economy, and it’s an absolute injustice that this resource has been deprived from so many Native Americans across our country,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo.
To learn more about the allocation of funds to Native American Tribes for internet access expansion, click here.