The Blackfeet Nation is a federally recognized tribe in Montana.
The process of getting quality technology to those living on the Blackfeet reservation is 20 years in the making.
Over half the tribe does not have broadband access. Installation would bring employment, faster services, allow ranchers to online pricing, provide a school-age child with additional resources, letting a remote community member use telehealth, and helping a local business reach customers outside of their community.
The tribe has begun the third phase of their work, which will bring broadband to the communities of the Blackfeet Reservation using a fiber-optic network that will be wholly owned by the Tribe.
Partnered with Siyeh Communications providing over 1,000 times more bandwidth and 100 times faster speeds.
1997: dug the first landline for phones
1999: The Siyeh Corporation formed as the business arm of the tribal council with the intent of separating business development from political influence
2000: The Siyeh Corporation started a cable TV service throughout the Blackfeet region, marking the beginning of what would become the current telecommunications project
Siyeh joined forces with Turtle Island Communications, eventually managing to secure a $500,0000 grant from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community out of Minnesota, which helped Siyeh acquire the Browning Telephone Exchange from 3 Rivers Cooperative, including its rights to provide telecoms services in the area.
2012: Tribe entered into an agreement with CommunityTel to be included in an ARRA grant that provided a “middle mile” infrastructure that would span the Blackfeet Reservation.
Tribal Council negotiated owner-ship of 12 “dark fibers” as part of that infrastructure through an IRU agreement
2015: Ronan Telephone wrote Blackfeet their application for a $13.5 million ARRA grant for broadband on the reservation
$500,000 funding donated from The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
$38.6 million in CARES Act funding, $7.5 million of which went to the telecoms project
Strategies for success
Building Educational Success
Browning Public Schools and the Blackfeet Community College implemented "distance learning" this fall
The decision requires navigation as many students don't have internet access or a computer at home.
According to the 2014-2018 American Community Survey, only 51% of households on the Blackfeet Reservation had broadband access.
Schools will offer jetpacks or devices that boost signal for families without internet.
The Blackfeet Community College is considering distributing hotspots to boost internet connection or having an outdoor space near the school where students can safely connect to WiFi
Turtle Island Communications Inc. contracted to design the system and engineer a plan for the buildout.
Turtle Island Communication is 100% Indian-owned, and has experience assisting Tribes who play a major role in voicing concerns for changing FCC federal policy.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, from Minnesota, has shown great support by donating $500,000 to assist us with the first phase of building out the fiber-optic network
Partnership with Siyeh Communications merged with Starlink Cable and Oki Communications.