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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Biden-Harris Administration Bringing High-Speed Internet, Clean Drinking Water and Modern Infrastructure to Tribal Communities

Announcements Underscore USDA’s Continued Progress Removing Long-Standing Systemic Barriers to Accessing USDA’s Programs by Tribal Communities

LAS VEGAS, March 12, 2024 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is making investments ↗ to provide clean drinking water, sanitary wastewater systems and affordable high-speed internet to people in Tribal communities. A portion of today’s funding will improve water infrastructure for the Yomba Shoshone Tribe in Nevada, which is part of USDA’s Rural Partners Network ↗.

Secretary Vilsack made this announcement at the one of the nation’s largest Tribal economic development conferences, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s Reservation Economic Summit (RES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The announcement comes on the heels of USDA’s ongoing progress in removing long-standing systemic barriers to accessing USDA’s programs by Tribal nations and ensuring that, where appropriate, Tribally owned enterprises and also Tribal trust lands are eligible for USDA programs. USDA has also taken steps to ensure Tribal resolutions of consent are obtained for many of its infrastructure programs, such as ReConnect, in the same manner that any permits and permissions are required.

“Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is committed to Tribal economic development and removing barriers for Tribal nations,” Secretary Vilsack said. “When we invest in modern infrastructure for people who live in Tribal communities, we create a ripple effect that impacts everyone. USDA is committed to building our economy from the middle out and bottom up by bringing high-speed internet, clean water and critical infrastructure to people in small towns and communities everywhere, especially in places that have been underserved for far too long.”

USDA is investing $58 million in Tribal communities in Nevada, Oklahoma and South Dakota. This funding will support economic development, high-speed internet deployment and modern infrastructure.

The projects are being financed through the ReConnect Program ↗ and the Water and Waste Facility Loans and Grants to Alleviate Health Risks on Tribal Lands Program ↗.

This funding will advance President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to grow the nation’s economy, create jobs and spur economic growth across the nation, in even the most remote parts of the country.

For instance:

  • The Yomba Shoshone Tribe in Nevada, a participant of USDA’s Rural Partners Network ↗, will use a $772,000 grant to make water infrastructure improvements. Funding will be used to replace a water tank, install water lines and fire hydrants, and make other improvements to increase efficiency and resiliency of the Tribe’s water system. These improvements will enable homes and buildings in the community to have access to safer water. The project is an example of how this alliance of federal partners is helping communities access government resources to build critical infrastructure and support long-term economic growth where it’s needed most.
  • The Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota received a $35 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to provide high-speed internet. This project will deliver high speed internet to 3,300 people, 47 businesses, 55 farms and seven educational facilities in Bennett and Oglala Lakota counties.
  • The Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma will use a $22 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to provide high-speed internet. This project will deliver high speed internet to nearly 2,000 people, 12 businesses and 100 farms in Le Flore County.

Together, these projects will ensure people have access to high-speed internet that will provide new economic opportunities and access to modern water infrastructure that will alleviate health risks for generations to come. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, $1.1 billion has been awarded through the ReConnect program to 57 Tribal communities.

Background

The Rural Partners Network ↗ (RPN) is a USDA-led alliance of federal agencies and commissions working directly with rural communities to access government funding resources to create jobs, build infrastructure and support long-term economic growth. RPN does this by employing community liaisons that live and work alongside the people in these communities.

Since RPN’s launch in April 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration has provided approximately $2.6 billion to carry out a variety of economic development projects in RPN communities across 10 states and Puerto Rico. Federal agencies partnering with USDA have also provided more than $80 million to RPN communities during that same period.

Investments in today’s announcement were made possible by the following USDA Rural Development programs:

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. Visit the Rural Data Gateway ↗ to learn how and where these investments are impacting rural America. To subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit the GovDelivery subscriber page ↗.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov ↗.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Kaylie Pferten
Kaylie Pferten
A pilot of submersible crafts in a former life, now married to my husband David and writing about investment advice.

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