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FCC Chairman Speaks to National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler delivered remarks at the NCAI 2014 Executive Council Winter Session in Washington, D.C. on March 12, 2014. Read his speech as prepared for delivery to the NCAI audience: Word / PDF

OPEN PROCEEDINGS

Spectrum Over Tribal Lands Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
This item seeks comment on a number of approaches which seek to improve the state of wireless communication services over Tribal lands by improving access to spectrum for Tribal Nations. While the comment and reply comment deadlines have passed, this is still an open item and comments are welcome. (Note: because the comment deadline has passed, any comment received will be handled as an ex parte item.) Submit your comments for this item.

Tribal Government Engagement Obligation
The FCC's Connect America Fund order established a Tribal Government Engagement Obligation for Eligible Telecommunications Carriers receiving Federal Universal Service support and serving Tribal lands. This is the first year of the engagement obligation. While ETCs covered by the Tribal Government Engagement Obligation have an annual certification and reporting requirement, we note that input on experiences and lessons learned are always useful. Perspectives of Tribal Nations, supported carriers, individuals, and other stakeholders may be filed by clicking here. We note that this is not mandated collection of information, but only serves as information on the process of sending perspectives which are not required under Tribal Government Engagement Obligation certification and reporting requirements to the FCC.

The FCC encourages Tribes to file comments via attachment on Tribal letterhead. Attachments MUST be in .pdf or .doc format. Word 2010 and 2013 (.docx) formatted attachments are not accepted by the Electronic Comment Filing System at this time.

For additional information on policy matters, above, please contact: native@fcc.gov.

For questions and help in the process of filing comments to these and other matters of interest, please contact lyle.ishida@fcc.gov, Policy Advisor, FCC Office of Native Affairs and Policy.

About the Office of Native Affairs and Policy

Photo of a Native American woman taking a photo with a cellphone.

Many residents of Tribal lands and native communities lack affordable access to modern communications tools and networks, and risk being left behind as these technologies quickly develop. The FCC is addressing this gap through regulatory action, consumer information and community outreach.

We also work to ensure robust government-to-government consultation with federally-recognized Tribal governments and increased coordination with Native organizations, as we strive to promote every community‚Äôs full participation in the 21st century communications landscape. 

Our Office of Native Affairs and Policy promotes the deployment and adoption of communications services and technology throughout tribal lands and Native communities.

ONAP consults and coordinates with American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, Native Hawaiian organizations and other Native and Tribal entities, and is the official FCC contact point for these activities.  It also engages in work with FCC commissioners, bureaus and offices, as well as other government agencies, private organizations and the communications industries, to develop and implement related FCC policies. 

The importance of the work was first officially recognized by the FCC in 2000 when it issued its  Statement of Policy on Establishing a Government-to-Government Relationship with Indian Tribes (Word Doc).

The creation of ONAP (PDF) was one of the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan, which includes increasing access to Broadband in Indian Country as an important goal  There are 4.1 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States and more than 565 federally recognized Tribes with their own unique political and tribal structures.  There is minimal access to Broadband in Indian Country.  The best evidence indicates that the broadband deployment rate on Tribal lands is less than 10 percent, and anecdotal evidence suggests that actual usage rates may be as low as 5 to 8 percent, compared to 65 percent nationwide.

ONAP also works to increase opportunities for telephone subscribership in Native and Tribal lands as part of the Lifeline Across America discount telephone service program.

Broadband Coverage

The National Broadband Map provides broadband availability data from providers offering service to the approximately 318 federal Reservations and associated off-Reservation Trust Lands. Map developers anticipate including information concerning the Native Nations and communities with different types of land tenures - for example those Native Nations in Alaska and Oklahoma, as well as Native communities on lands in Hawaii and elsewhere - as map development continues.

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