Indian Country Today: Fond du Lac Bridges the Digital Divide


EXCERPT: “Some 900 homes on the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation will soon gain something that 80 percent of U.S. residents already take for granted—home access to high-speed Internet service. Thanks to two $3 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants, plus an additional $2.2 million investment from the tribe, some 160 miles of broadband cable are being planted across the rural areas of the reservation, along with 79 additional miles to connect homes. The project, just started, is expected to be complete by fall 2018. The Fond du Lac Fiber to the Home Initiative is intended to give all reservation residents—band members or no—the ability to access the education, job-searching, health and entertainment opportunities the Internet can provide. ‘It’s a big project, and it’s a big commitment to help the rural parts of the reservation,’ said Jason Hollinday, the Fond du Lac Band’s planning division director. ‘The people here are just kind of slowly falling behind.’ Home Internet access isn’t a matter of frivolous Facebook social time. It’s a necessary tool for job searches and online applications, as well as class assignments for students from elementary school through college, Hollinday said. It’s a conduit for health service in many rural areas, not to mention essential for start-up and home-based enterprises, employment opportunities that can allow people to live and work on the reservation.” FULLSTORY: