More than 9,000 California Native American tribal members to get better internet

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Internet Society Foundation grant to provide better internet access to 2,200 tribal homes across 13 tribal nations

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Internet Society Foundation

More than 9,000 California Native American tribal members will get better internet through a $30,000 grant provided by the Internet Society Foundation. The grant will increase access to tribal homes across 13 tribal nations.

Currently, over people living in the 2,200 tribal homes in southern California have no internet access or internet access that does not match their family’s needs during COVID-19. Nearly 400 of the homes are connected to Tribal Digital Village Network (TDVNet), and increasing the capacity through this project will allow greater bandwidth deployment to all of those homes. This project will beam fast internet to level-up the existing infrastructure.

“We’ve provided internet with our Tribal Digital Village Network to our communities for nearly two decades. As we are expanding to thousands of homes, we need the ability to bring the capacity of our fiber closer to the bulk of our reservations. That is why we’re grateful for the Internet Society Foundation’s Beyond the Net Grant program. In the next year, there’s going to be a major improvement to the capacity in access to the internet in our communities and it will be thanks to this grant,” said Executive Director of the Southern California Tribal Chairmen's Association Denis Turner.

A map of wireless internet in Indian Country.
A map of internet access in the tribal communities of California.The Internet Society Foundation

The Internet Society Foundation grants Beyond the Net Grants like this to local chapters of the Internet Society. The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter–the group of volunteers who reached out to Director of Technology Southern California Tribal Chairmen's Association Tribal Digital Village Matthew Rantanen–and applied for the grant has over 1,000 members. 

“We’ve been working for nearly two decades to improve internet access on tribal land. Kids need to get online to attend school and do homework during COVID-19, parents need the internet to search for jobs,” Rantanen said.

TDVNet has been in existence since 2001 and has been able to impove the network in the last five years, increasing the services to tribal communities greatly.

"Access to high-speed internet today is the difference between being able to keep up in school–and not; being able to keep a job–and not; being able to find resources, stay connected with socially-distanced family, influence key government decisions–and not," project chair Jessica Dickinson Goodman said. "Pre-COVID-19, internet connectivity on tribal land was dire and tribal communities were deeply under-served. COVID-19 has only laid bare these injustices and aggravated them.”

For more information, visit the Internet Society Foundation’s Beyond the Net Grant program.

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