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Harris Announces $1B Grant To American Indians

“Expanding broadband access would transform native communities, promote economic development, and empower Tribal Nation governments to provide critical services, including health care ..."

SPECTRUM NEWS 1 – Vice President Kamala Harris announced Thursday that the White House is making available $1 billion in funding for Tribal Nations to fortify their broadband infrastructure.

The funds were included in the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package enacted in late December of last year, and indigenous communities can now apply for specific grants to cover various broadband-related projects.

Harris was joined by Shannon Holsey, president of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians in Wisconsin and treasurer for the National Congress of American Indians, for Thursday’s announcement.

“Indian gaming revenues increased by 4.1% up to $33.7 billion in 2018. This trend is expected to continue, making the Native American tribal gambling even bigger than Las Vegas’s gambling industry. Tribal casinos do not pay taxes.” – Native News Online

Holsey spoke first, touching on the “widespread patches of absolutely no connectivity” to broadband across many indigenous communities, saying the lack of access “creates even more vulnerability.”

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Holsey said:

“Expanding broadband access would transform native communities, promote economic development, and empower Tribal Nation governments to provide critical services, including health care, education, public safety and emergency services.”

Harris agreed, saying access to broadband is critical as it is “fundamentally how we create good jobs and economic opportunity.”

The grants can be used for projects ranging from laying down fiber optic cables, digital literacy programs, distance learning, broadband adoption activities and more.

The American Rescue Plan – which was signed into law in March – allocated $31.2 billion for Tribal Nations to address the impacts of COVID-19 …

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