Crow Indian Reservation case study

  • Case
    • The Crow people are a federally recognized tribe. The Crow Indian Reservation is located in southern Montana, with an enrolled membership of approximately 11,000, of whom 7,900 reside in the reservation. 
    • Tribe has been actively trying since 2013 to gain internet access. 
    • Small federal funding has provided access to internet around certain parts of the reservation, but it often lags or does not stretch to all members
    • In light of Covid-19 and the recent election, the need for increased internet speed and strength became a more serious matter
  •  Funding/ Support
    • 2021:  receiving spectrum licenses through the Federal Communication Commission’s Rural Tribal Priority Window.
      •  2.5 gigahertz frequency to provide broadband to underserved Indian reservations
    • $20 million in federal stimulus money
    • Department of Agricultures agreement in ensuring their historic-preservation permit
  • Strategies for success 
    • This specific case focuses upon rights of the people, in this case voter’s rights:
      • Low voter turnout this year due to poor internet.
      •  Lauri Kindness- (regional organizer for the Crow Reservation with Montana Native Vote)
        • “There’s a lot of people who were not getting the proper information or messaging that we were putting out, so come Election Day they went to where they normally go when we have satellite sites for in-person voting. They didn’t know there weren’t any — they didn’t get the message.”
      • Dulcie Bear Don’t Walk (elections administrator) 
        • No satellite voting locations on the reservation due to the increase in COVID-19 cases they’ve seen.
        • “If you don’t have good internet, you’re not going to be able to pull up a lot of these different things like voter registration.”
        • Access and affordability make it difficult for reservations to get adequate internet.
      • Building awareness for unrecognized rights such as voters rights and access to assistance in having the community understand the importance of the project as well as what capabilities such services had outside everyday internet and entertainment
    • Building the Economy
      • Unemployment on the Crow Indian Reservation hit 10.5 percent in 2009 – unemployment rate for May 2010 was 9.5 percent
      • Bringing high-speed cable Internet access to businesses and homes on the Crow Indian Reservation can assist with generating a number of jobs and help stimulate the local economy. 
    • Know local tribe historic preservation regulations
      • The federal project to install high-speed Internet on the reservation was delayed due to a cease and desist order to contractor Nemont Telephone Cooperative.
        •  It cited the need for a historic-preservation permit and demanded that historic-preservation monitors be present at all future construction as Emerson Bull Chief (tribe’s historic-preservation officer) was concerned subcontractors won’t properly handle items of historical interest they may encounter on the reservation.
      • Several actions can be taken to forgo such delays:
        • Discussion of tribal council of off sacred and historical land before and during installation planning
        • Implantation of historic-preservation permit
        • U.S. Agriculture Departments involvement on historic grounds and permits

Key Themes: Economy -Tribal Infrastructure – Empathy – Roadblocks

Issues: Historic Preservation – COVID – 19 – Voter Rights – Employment

Strategies: Government and Tribal Council involvement

Forms of Access: Community