Osage Nation To Break Ground on NTIA-Funded Broadband Expansion Projects

Osage Wahzhazhe Connect

PAWHUSKA, OK – The Osage Nation’s department Wahzhazhe Connect will be joined by Biden-Harris administration officials to break ground on its National Telecommunication Information Administration (NTIA) broadband expansion projects on Monday, March 4, 2024, at 1:30pm, at Wakon Iron Hall in Pawhuska. Representatives from NTIA will attend the event, along with staff from the Oklahoma Broadband Office.

This is the beginning of the construction funded by $40.6 million in federal grants to the Osage Nation to build out high-speed fiber optic broadband throughout the Osage Nation. The program is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Internet for All initiative, which aims to ensure everyone in America can access reliable, affordable high-speed internet. The projects will build a network of more than 200 miles of fiber optic cabling, along with 16 towers for fixed wifi.

“This will change our community for the better at many different levels, including education, social connection, health services, and cooperation with our community and communities throughout the world,” said Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear.

The first set of NTIA projects includes the western boundary of the Osage Nation, which runs from the Arkansas River Bridge, located east of Ponca City, to the Highway 18 intersection with Highway 60, located just north of Fairfax. Pawhuska Indian Camp is the second project in this phase, which includes the construction of fiber-to-the-home for residents. The third project includes Osage Nation government facilities in Pawhuska, including the Osage Nation Fitness Center, the Domestic Violence Shelter, and the newly renovated Visitors Center. 

This next phase marks the completion of the required environmental and historic preservation analysis, which includes an assessment of risks to the land, air, and water, endangered species, and risks to human health. The Office of Historic Preservation conducted the cultural resources surveys, which also identified potential archaeological sites in the path of construction, as well as burial sites and areas of historical significance to the Osage Nation.

The next set of projects of the broadband buildout includes extending the eastern boundary, running from Pawhuska to Bartlesville, the City of Fairfax, and the new Primary Residential Treatment Centers. Also included are routes from Pawhuska to Hominy, Skiatook to Tulsa, as well as Barnsdall, Avant, and Sperry. Internet service will be provided by Osage Innovative Solutions, also known as “Osage Broadband,” which will be available first in Pawhuska and Fairfax Senior Housing neighborhoods.

The groundbreaking is free and open to the public.