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Indian Affairs opens Indigenous Connectivity and Technology division

The ICT division will support Tribal sovereignty over digital resources and promote economic development on Tribal lands

WASHINGTON – The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs today announced the opening of the Division of Indigenous Connectivity and Technology within the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The new division will assist federally recognized Tribal nations with managing and expanding new technological and wireless services on their lands and advance their sovereignty over the digital resources and assets on those lands.

“The new Indigenous Connectivity and Technology division will modernize the way Tribal nations engage in technological opportunities and give them a long overdue seat at the national connectivity policy development table,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “The Biden-Harris administration is committed to closing the digital divide on Tribal lands and supporting Tribes in managing technology and resources on their lands.”

The Indigenous Connectivity and Technology division will assist Tribes and Tribal entities in developing or expanding broadband infrastructure and exploring new electromagnetic spectrum leasing opportunities. It also will promote interagency coordination and national policy development; provide technical assistance for the establishment of wireless, digital and technological projects on Tribal lands; and facilitate public-private partnerships with Tribes to advance Tribal self-governance in this domain.

The division will focus on the Department of the Interior’s Tribal priorities for the National Spectrum Strategy Implementation Plan and continue coordination of an interagency agreement signed in 2022 by Interior, the Federal Communications Commission, and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunication and Information Administration to promote the deployment, coordination and development of broadband and other wireless communications services on Tribal lands.

It also will facilitate new partnerships between Tribes and the tech industry to advance Tribal self-governance over finite spectrum resources, electric vehicles, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and other new technological opportunities and digital services while expanding opportunities for Indigenous participation in data science, coding, and software engineering.

The new division is led by Danae Wilson, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe.

“I’m proud to lead as the first director of the Indigenous Connectivity and Technology division, especially as Tribes expand ownership of telecommunications and high-speed internet deployments over their lands,” said ICT Director Danae Wilson. “This position modernizes the BIA’s basic fiduciary duty regarding Tribal lands, digital assets and finite resources.”

Wilson previously served as the assistant director for internet access at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. She has more than thirty years of experience deploying high speed networks in Indian Country and rural communities at the federal, Tribal and state levels.

The Biden-Harris administration is committed to an all-of-government approach to expanding affordable, high-speed internet to Tribal communities. President Biden has committed $90 billion to expand internet access with funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the American Rescue Plan Act.

You can find more information about the Division of Indigenous Connectivity and Technology at https://www.bia.gov/bia/ots/ict.

The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs advises the Secretary of the Interior on Indian Affairs policy issues; communicates policy to and oversees the programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, and the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration; provides leadership in consultations with Tribes; and serves as the DOI official for intra- and inter-departmental coordination and liaison within the Executive Branch on matters concerning American Indians and Alaska Natives and the federally recognized Tribes in the United States.

The Division of Indigenous Connectivity and Technology (ICT) is located within the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Trust Services.

 

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