Sen. Schatz Leads Indian Affairs Roundtable on Broadband Infrastructure in Native Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, led a roundtable discussion titled “Closing the Digital Divide in Native Communities through Infrastructure Investment” to hear from tribal leaders and Native-serving organizations on what more Congress can do to get Native communities connected.

In his opening statement, Schatz explained how strong federal investment in broadband infrastructure is helping Native communities close the digital divide.

“When it comes to … accessing the internet to bridge the digital divide, Native communities face specific challenges,” said Chairman Schatz. “… remoteness, inadequate basic infrastructure, and the high cost of hardware continues to make this divide tougher in Native communities than really any other place. That’s why Congress’s recent authorization sending billions of dollars to help Native communities invest in broadband infrastructure is simply a game changer. But we’ve got to get this right, and that’s why we want to hear from all of you.”

The following panelists participated in the roundtable:

  • The Honorable Manuel Heart, Chairman, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Towaoc, CO
  • The Honorable William Smith, Alaska Area Representative & Board member, National Indian Health Board and Vice President of the Valdez Native Tribe, Valdez, AK
  • Mr. Walter W. Haase, P.E., General Manager, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, Fort Defiance, AZ
  • Ms. Carrie L. Billy, President & Chief Executive Officer, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Alexandria, VA
  • Mr. Matthew Rantanen, Co-Chair, Subcommittee Technology & Telecommunications, National Congress of American Indians, Washington, DC
  • Mr. Donovan Kealoha, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Purple Mai‘a Foundation, ‘Aiea, HI
  • Ms. Hallie Bissett, Executive Director, Alaska Native Village Corporation Association, Anchorage, AK