OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – The Biden-Harris Administration has awarded millions of dollars to two Tribal entities in Oklahoma for internet access on Tribal lands.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) says more than $12.6 million in grants have been awarded to the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma from the Internet for All initiative.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to connecting all Tribal communities to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet service,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The investments we announced today are a crucial step in closing the digital divide in Indian country.” 

Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Consolidated Appropriations Act assist the grant’s expansion of high-speed internet infrastructure deployment projects through the Internet for All initiative’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program for the two Tribes.

“The Apache Tribe of Oklahoma has been progressing in my time in Office,” said Apache Tribe of Oklahoma Chairman Durell Cooper III. “The Apache Business Committee and I have been forward thinking, changing the way we do business, and looking for opportunities that will strengthen the Apache people and the communities they live. Our Leadership is young and enthusiastic about making the tribe stronger for the Apache People.  Our mantra is “Apache Strong” and we believe in being such. We prioritized access to the internet as the need became so visible with the effects of the pandemic. When the NTIA grant opportunity came about we formed a team to create a project that would address the need for internet access for our Apache People. There were struggles in the process, but our team remained focused. When we were notified that we received the grant, the strength, focus, and resilient nature of our leadership team shined.  As we move forward in implementing this grant, we are excited about the generational change that this broadband grant will create for the Apache Tribal people and the community; and we will remain “Apache Strong.”  

According to officials, this award is part of the Biden Administration’s dedication to nation-to-nation engagement and an effort to connect everyone in America. This includes giving American Indians and Natives, affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service.

Officials say the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma was awarded $2,630,650.00 to install fiber to directly connect 355 unserved Native American households with Broadband service. The Apache Tribe of Oklahoma was awarded $9,980,139.09 to install an 80-mile, middle mile fiber path that will directly connect 36 community anchor institutions as a last mile system.