$35 million federal grant to expand internet access for Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska

By: - October 11, 2022 5:10 pm

(Getty Images)

OMAHA — The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska has received a $35 million federal grant to expand high-speed internet access on its land.

Announced Tuesday at the Ho-Chunk Village in Winnebago, the award from the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration is funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

It is expected to install fiber connecting about 600 unserved tribal households, 40 businesses and 16 community anchor institutions.

“We’re making an historic investment in tribal communities to ensure reliable affordable high-speed internet for all,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. 

She said the grants underscore President Joe Biden’s commitment to closing the digital divide in the United States and should bring opportunities for well-paying jobs and in education and health care fields.

Winnebago Tribe Chairwoman Victoria Kitcheyan said in a statement that the tribe was thrilled and looked forward to the grant “leveling the playing field of opportunity.”

“Throughout the pandemic we saw firsthand the importance of internet access and how critical it is for our tribal members to participate in remote education, telehealth and economic development opportunities,” she said.

“Broadband is absolutely essential to modern life. It can help to grow our local economies, ensure people have access to critical services like telehealth, and incentivize young people to remain active in rural communities,” said Sen. Deb Fischer, who supported the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill that included the funding. “This broadband funding will finally bring reliable, high-speed internet to unserved areas in the Winnebago Tribal community. I am pleased to see the many important investments the infrastructure law continues to bring to our great state.”

The award was among 23 grants amounting to $601 million announced Tuesday. That brings the total awarded to 94 tribal entities to $1.35 billion.

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program is a nearly $3 billion grant program and part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Internet for All Initiative. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a $65 billion investment to expand affordable and reliable high-speed internet access in communities across the U.S.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.