DOI, ED, and IMLS Announce Opening of Registration for National Tribal Broadband Summit (September 23 – 24); Efforts to Promote Better Access to Broadband Internet Service to Rural America Includes Indian Country
August 27 – The Department of the Interior (DOI), in collaboration with the Department of Education (ED), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announce today that online registration is open for the two-day National Tribal Broadband Summit (Summit). The Summit, a landmark event aiming to equip participants with the tools to bridge the connectivity gap in Indian Country and unlock the opportunities that broadband access can provide, will convene on September 23 and 24, 2019, in Washington, D.C.
“There are communities across the United States that are still waiting to catch up with 21st century technology,” said Tara Katuk MacLean Sweeney, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior. “The Department of the Interior is committed to improving economic opportunity and quality of life for American Indians and Alaska Natives. This Summit is a key opportunity to engage the private sector and make the business case for investing in Indian Country.”
“All students need affordable broadband, at school and at home, if we are going to seriously address the achievement gaps in America. The issue is especially important in rural and Tribal communities where the growing digital divide could exacerbate persistent achievement gaps,” said Jim Blew, Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, Department of Education. “The Department remains committed to working with our Federal, State, Tribal, and local colleagues to ensure that all students, including American Indian and Alaska Native students, have access to the tools that will enable them to find their pathway to success.”
“Tribal libraries and museums continue to serve as essential community anchors and resources for community cohesion,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, Director, Institute of Museum and Library Sciences. “These institutions are essential hubs for connectivity, digital literacy, and digital inclusion that help support lifelong learning and accessing vital information, such as health and job resources.”
Currently, broadband access in other rural parts of the country outpaces development on rural Tribal lands. Rural broadband deployment is achievable – 73.3% of rural non-Tribal locations have at least one broadband provider. However, only 46.6% of rural Tribal locations have coverage.
The Summit is open to Tribal Leaders, representatives of Tribal organizations, representatives of schools and school districts serving under-connected Native students, Tribal libraries, museums, and cultural centers, private sector, and federal program managers and policymakers. One of its primary goals is to lay a foundation for building capacity among Tribal communities to support broadband deployment and adoption, and identify new opportunities for private sector investment in broadband.