CSKT to receive $41.5 million to expand high-speed internet

Confederate Salish and Kootenai Tribes to Receive More Than $41.5 Million from Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to Expand High-Speed ​​Internet Access on Flathead Reservation. The announcement was made last week at tribal headquarters in Pablo during a presentation attended by officials from the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

CSKT Tribe Chairman Tom McDonald called the grant “life-changing for our reservations community.”

The event was also attended by leaders of the Blackfeet tribe, which was awarded just over $33 million. Both awards are part of the latest round of federal internet grants for anyone aiming to improve internet connectivity.

According to a press release, the project aims to install fiber and wireless access to directly connect 927 Indigenous households, 35 Indigenous businesses and 22 Indigenous community institutions that currently do not have high-speed internet. The fast new service will deliver at least 30Mbps/5Mbps and up to 1Gbps for qualifying broadband services.

According to McDonald, the 300 miles of fiber optic cable spanning the 1.3 million-acre reservation will connect remote workers and more than 55 anchor institutions, such as libraries, homesites and other key service facilities.

The increased broadband services promise to increase CSKT’s autonomy, he said, and “ensure everyone has better social services, health care and educational opportunities in the digital age.”

Blackfeet Tribal Business Council Chair Scott Kipp was also present at the announcement and said the funding would help replace the existing aging copper-based phone line system “with high-speed fiber-to-the-home.” He noted that the new tribal telecommunications company, Siyeh Communications, will expand infrastructure, creating additional jobs and economic opportunities for tribal members.

So far, the program has awarded $1.35 billion to 94 Indigenous entities to “close the digital divide in the United States, particularly within the tribal areas,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “These awards will not only build high-speed internet capacity within tribal nations, but also provide digital opportunities for high-paying jobs, education and health care.”

In addition, the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) offers eligible households a rebate of up to $30 per month on Internet service and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands. Visit getinternet.gov to learn more.

For more information on the Biden-Harris administration’s high-speed Internet programs, visit InternetforAll.gov.