Nearly $19 million to go to 11 tribes in Nevada for high-speed internet

The Nevada Tribal Council received nearly $19 million in grants to boost Internet services for 11 tribes in the state as part of the Biden administration’s Internet for All initiative.

“This is very important. We are so excited we have been working on the grant for two years,” said Desiria Quintana, Executive Director of the Board. “Access to reliable and affordable internet has been largely non-existent.”

The council is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that governs 28 member tribes in Nevada and will ensure long-term sustainability and long-term benefits for the project.

Quintana has seen the pandemic expose the need for adequate internet access in tribal communities. In Nevada, tribal members lacked access to critical emergency updates, public safety announcements, telehealth services, remote work solutions, and remote learning opportunities.

“What we’ve also seen when schools close is that if students are provided with Chromebooks or laptops, they won’t be able to use them because they don’t have a reliable internet connection,” Quintana said.

Elko Band Council Chair Danina Ike has seen her grandchildren struggle head-on with their homework due to the lack of reliable internet access during the pandemic. In an effort to help her grandchildren, she upgraded the internet at home, spending just over $100 a month, but found no difference in connectivity.

“In 2020, we are devastated by COVID-19,” Ike said. “The children were negatively affected when they were sent home, they were trying to do their homework and couldn’t because they didn’t have high speed internet.”

The Elko Band Indian Colony has the largest population of residents that will be affected by the project with more than 330 families to be served, according to Governor Steve Sisolak’s office. The colony consists of just over 1,000 individuals, with a workforce of less than 600 workers, with some working remotely, according to the Te Moak Tribe website in Western Shoshone.

According to a White House press release, more than 30 percent of the population of tribal lands do not have access to broadband infrastructure that provides adequate minimum speeds.

The Nevada Infrastructure Project is set up to address the lack of satisfactory Internet access for fewer than 1,000 families across the state. The governor’s office said the grant will provide high-speed, reliable and affordable internet by installing fiber-optic cables to less than 1,000 homes and more than 3,000 tribal members.

The project is due to be completed within a year with the use of five broadband service providers that are expected to raise connection speeds from 25 to 500 megabits per second, according to the governor’s office.

The tribal council received the grant to expand internet access to 11 tribal communities in the state that have expressed interest, including: Elko Band Indian Colony, Lovelock Paiute Tribe, Summit Lake Paiute Tribe, Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, Yerington Paiute Tribe, and Yomba Shoshone Tribe, and the Washoe Tribe in Nevada and California, including the Carson Colony, Woodford, Stewart, and Dresslerville communities.

“In the past two years, we have seen clearly and repeatedly how important equitable access to high-speed, reliable Internet and a connected device is for work, education, health care, and civic engagement,” Sisolak said in a press release. “We cannot and will not leave any community behind as we work to bridge the digital divide.”

Contact Jimmy Romo at jromo@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0350. Follow Tweet embed on Twitter.

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