Nez Perce Tribe

Nez Perce Reservation Broadband Enhancement

The majority of the Nez Perce Tribe’s members and anchor institutions are limited to dial-up or inadequate satellite Internet connections on the 1,200 square miles of reservation land, limiting opportunities to access the digital economy. The Nez Perce Reservation Broadband Enhancement project intends to build a wireless microwave network to provide high-speed, affordable broadband services across four northern Idaho counties: Clearwater, Idaho, Lewis, and Nez Perce. Another BTOP grantee, One Economy, will utilize the Nez Perce Tribe middle and last mile network to extend its broadband adoption efforts into tribal communities. In addition, the project plans to expand sparse wireless coverage through partnerships with regional providers Inland Cellular and First Step Internet, also BTOP grantees.

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BTOP In Action

The Nez Perce Tribe deployed 216 miles of wireless infrastructure across its 1,200 square mile Reservation located in north central Idaho as part of the Nez Perce Tribe Reservation Broadband Enhancement project. The project provided broadband capacity in previously underserved rural communities.

The Nez Perce Tribe’s reservation-wide broadband network has connected 17 community anchor institutions, including three libraries within the Prairie River Library District. “Enhanced telecommunications have increased access to e-government and learning resources that were previously unavailable due to insufficient bandwidth. Our ability to serve our public has significantly improved,” stated the Library Director for the District.

In addition to libraries, the Nez Perce Tribe improved connections to city, county, and tribal government facilities across the region including Northwest Indian College, Lewis-Clark State College Orofino Outreach Center, Culdesac, and rural first-responder public safety organizations. Silas Whitman, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee stated, “It has been wonderful to see how successful this effort has been under this grant as it has opened up access to the internet that was not previously available. The hope is that this expanded capacity will promote economic development on the reservation as well as raise the standard of living for both tribal and non-tribal members in this area.”

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Award Documents