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Five tribes in Arizona will receive more than $105 million to help build out high-speed internet infrastructure to serve their sovereign nations. 

The funds pull from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Internet for All initiative and will fund broadband projects for Hopi Telecommunications Inc., Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, San Carlos Apache Tribal Council/Triplet Mountain Communications Inc., and White Mountain Apache Tribe.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced the grants at an event this week at the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona in Arizona.

In total, the projects will connect 33,300 homes with high-speed internet in an ongoing and targeted effort to bridge the digital divide in Indian Country. 

Pascua Yaqui Tribal Chairman Peter Yucupicio, whose reservation is located 16 miles west of Tuscon, Ariz., said in a statement that the infusion of funds will connect the tribe’s 69 government buildings and nine businesses, as well as run fiber cable from its data Center to new housing developments, Tortuga Ranch, Guadalupe and Old Pascua communities.

“This important Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program Award will empower the Pascua Yaqui Tribe to carry out critical capital projects that directly support work, education, and health monitoring on the Reservation utilizing remote options in response to the Coronavirus public health emergency,” Yucupicio said in a statement. “This funding also will improve the quality of life, spur economic development activity, and create opportunities for remote employment by expanding broadband access to Tribal members in the various Pascua Yaqui communities.” 

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The awards complete a total of more than $600 million that Vice President Kamala Harris promised to deploy into tribal communities by the end of August. 

“Our administration’s vision is to connect all Native communities with the internet and with the opportunity that comes along with access to affordable internet — the opportunity to live healthier, happier, and more prosperous lives,” Vice President Harris said in a statement on Aug. 11. “And we will continue to fight every day to make that vision a reality.”

NTIA has now made 69 awards totaling more than $726 million in funding through the $1 billion Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. These awards are part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to nation-to-nation engagement and an effort to connect everyone in America, including American Indians and Alaska Natives, with affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. 

The first round of funding closed on Sept. 1, 2021, and drew 280 applications. A second round will open this fall.

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