ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland have introduced legislation that would accelerate the deployment of broadband services to Native American communities.
Along with U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, Heinrich and Udall are sponsoring the Bridging the Tribal Digital Divide Act of 2020 in the Senate. U.S. Reps. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., and Tom Cole, R-Okla., are sponsors with Haaland in the House.
“Reliable internet access is fundamental to economic success in the 21st century,” Udall said in a release. “It is unacceptable that Americans living on tribal lands, in addition to tribal governments, face so many barriers to accessing reliable broadband. … This is fundamental to the effort to ensure that the federal government is upholding its trust and treaty responsibility to Native communities.”
Heinrich said access to high-speed internet is increasingly essential to daily life and “brings unprecedented economic opportunities for users, especially for people living in rural areas.”
“Connecting more tribes will strengthen broadband across rural New Mexico and improve education, boost the economy, and increase public safety and civic engagement,” the senator said.
“Access to the internet opens up opportunities for young people and economic growth for entire communities, but Native American communities are the most digitally disconnected in the country,” Haaland said. “Lack of internet access and broadband leads to disparities in student achievement, health outcomes, economic opportunities and even violence.”