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Office of Native Affairs and Policy 2012 Annual Report

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Released: March 25, 2013







Page #


Tribal Mobility Fund


Tribal Government Engagement Obligation


Spectrum Over Tribal Lands Notice of Proposed Rulemaking


Cultural Preservation Review of Non-Compliant Towers

Eligible Telecommunications Carrier Designation Petitions to Serve
Tribal Lands


Radio Broadcast Tribal Priority



Description of the Problem

The Commission’s Tribal Agenda before the Office of Native Affairs
and Policy


Creation of the Office of Native Affairs and Policy


The Mission of the Office of Native Affairs and Policy



A Renewed Regulatory Agenda


A Renewed Commitment to Consultation, Outreach, and Training





Universal Service



Page #

Self-Provisioning and the Need for Spectrum


Tribal Engagement


Radio Broadcasting and the Tribal Priority


Eligible Telecommunications Carriers


A New Approach to Training in 2012






Appendix A: List of 2012 Travel, Training, and Meetings in Indian Country

Appendix B: 2012 Headquarters Meetings and Calls with Tribal Leaders,
Carriers, and Parties Interested in the Provision of Communications
Services in Indian Country

Appendix C: Example Letters from Tribal Leaders

Appendix D: Example Resolutions from Tribal Nations



The Office of Native Affairs and Policy’s 2012 Annual Report is intended to provide the Commission
with a review of the unprecedented level of coordination, engagement, and training with Tribal Nations1
and inter-Tribal government associations that took place in 2012. Because this is the first such report that
the Office of Native Affairs and Policy (ONAP) has produced in its first two and one-half years of
existence, the Annual Report also provides sufficient background and historical perspective to fully
appreciate the magnitude of the Commission’s commitment to Indian Country.
The Annual Report illustrates the Commission’s efforts to address the digital divide in Indian Country,
the progress that the Commission has made, and why that progress requires even more coordinated efforts
in the years to come. ONAP’s responsibilities encompass the consultation efforts of the entire agency,
and the involvement and contributions of staff and managers of the Bureaus and Offices across the
Commission will be clear throughout this Annual Report. This ongoing partnership and commitment
across the Commission to work with Tribal Nations is unprecedented in many ways.
The Commission shares a government-to-government trust relationship with Tribal Nations, which guides
both the character and quality of the work that ONAP and the rest of the agency performs with Tribal
Nations. The Commission has quickly earned a reputation among the Tribes as being one of the leading
institutions of the federal government when it comes to creativity and determination to solve the
persistent and pervasive problems related to the lack of 21st century technologies on Tribal lands. On
several occasions in the 13 years that the Commission has focused its efforts to work with Tribal Nations,
particularly since the creation of ONAP, many Tribal leaders have stated that the communications
challenges on Tribal lands are often found in many different Tribal regions of the nation, but that in every
instance the solutions to those problems are quite unique and very contextual, even on a regional basis.
“One size fits none” is a constant refrain in the nation-to-nation work of ONAP.
The Annual Report will also illustrate that, in many respects, while many efforts to address the digital
divide in Indian Country are in major motion, there is much more still to be done, new initiatives to
undertake, and future milestones to achieve. Communications technologies and modern media platforms,
such as broadband, hold the potential to level many of the negative impacts that history has visited on
Tribal Nations. The Commission, through ONAP and ONAP’s coordination with the other Bureaus and
Offices, has laid the groundwork for a path forward, and this Annual Report illustrates why future
progress is both needed and justified.


ONAP anticipates that 2013 will be as busy as 2012 with respect to Tribal policy initiatives,
consultations, and trainings. ONAP has established its top consultation priorities for 2013, which include,
in no particular order: (1) the Tribal Mobility Fund and support for wireless carriers seeking to serve
Tribal lands; (2) the Tribal government engagement obligation under the new high-cost and Connect
America Fund regulations; (3) the Spectrum Over Tribal Lands Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and

1 The work of the Office of Native Affairs and Policy encompasses all 566 federally recognized Tribes, which
includes Alaska Native Villages. The work of the Office also encompasses the Hawaiian Home Lands – lands held
in trust for native Hawaiians by the state of Hawaii, pursuant to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, Act
July 9, 1921, 42 Stat. 108, et seq., as amended.

proposals aimed at providing more efficient spectrum licensing on Tribal lands, including a Tribal
Priority; (4) cultural preservation and environmental review of non-compliant towers nationwide; (5)
review of eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) designation petitions filed by carriers seeking to
provide service on Tribal lands; and (6) training and coordination of the various radio broadcast licensing
opportunities now available to Tribal Nations under the Commission’s Tribal Priority rules.

Tribal Mobility Fund

In 2013, the Commission expects to hold a reverse auction for Phase I of the Tribal Mobility Fund, which
will distribute $50 million in one-time support for mobile service providers serving Tribal lands lacking
3G or 4G service.2 To ensure broad and successful participation in the auction, ONAP and the Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) will partner to provide training for Tribal Nations on topics such as
eligibility, opportunities for joint ventures, and the mechanics of the actual auction process.

Tribal Government Engagement Obligation

In 2013, ETCs will report for the first time on their compliance with the Tribal government engagement
obligation adopted in the context of universal service reform.3 This is an annual obligation that is still in
its earliest stages. Supported communications providers are to meaningfully engage with the
governments of the Tribal Nations on whose lands they serve. Pursuant to the Commission’s order
creating the obligation, ONAP is committed to developing best practices that examine, through potential
efficiencies and regional commonalities, how best to bring industry and Tribal decision makers together
to discuss critical deployment issues. In the context of training seminars as well as stand-alone meetings,
ONAP will host and facilitate engagement meetings between ETCs and Tribal Nations.

Spectrum Over Tribal Lands Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

In March 2011, the FCC began a rulemaking proceeding designed to improve Tribal access to spectrum
and to promote greater utilization of spectrum over Tribal lands through a number of proposals designed
to expand and enhance fixed and mobile wireless services on Tribal lands. The Commission sought
comment on processes to provide Tribes with new opportunities to gain access to spectrum, including the
establishment of a Tribal Priority (similar to the one in effect for broadcast radio), a formal negotiation
process for secondary markets agreements, a build-or-divest process, and construction safe harbor
provisions. Because access to spectrum continues to be a critically important need of Indian Country in
closing the digital divide, ONAP, in coordination with WTB, will structure and carry out consultations
related to these important regulatory proposals. As access to spectrum is a necessary predicate to being
involved in the Mobility Fund reverse auctions, this is a top priority on multiple counts. Tribal Nations
and major inter-Tribal associations, such as the National Congress of American Indians and the Southern

2 See Connect America Fund; A National Broadband Plan for Our Future; Establishing Just and Reasonable Rates
for Local Exchange Carriers; High-Cost Universal Service Support; Developing a Unified Intercarrier
Compensation Regime; Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service; Lifeline and Link-Up; Universal Service
Reform—Mobility Fund; WC Docket Nos. 10-90, 07-135, 05-337, 03-109, CC Docket Nos. 01-92, 96-45, GN
Docket No. 09-51, WT Docket No. 10-208, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC
Rcd 17663 (2011) (USF/ICC Transformation Order); pets. for review pending sub nom. In re: FCC 11-161, No. 11-
9900 (10th Cir. filed Dec. 8, 2011); see infra A Renewed Regulatory Agenda – Universal Service Reform, pp. 20-
3 See USF/ICC Transformation Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 17868, paras. 636-37.

California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, remain supportive of the Commission taking action to
implement the Tribal Priority provisions, and have offered to assist in further consultations on the formal
negotiations, build-or-divest, and safe harbor proposed rules.

Cultural Preservation Review of Non-Compliant Towers

In 2013, ONAP and members of the intra-agency NEPA team4 will partner to host and initiate
consultations with Tribal Nations and inter-Tribal government associations regarding options and
strategies for analyzing and addressing the status of various classes of towers that never went through
historic preservation review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. These towers
were never reviewed by Tribal Historic Preservation Officers or Cultural Preservation Officials for
potential adverse impacts on Tribal sites of religious and cultural significance, or Tribal “sacred sites.” In
dealing with “twilight towers” and other non-compliant towers, these consultations will involve issues
and information of an extremely sensitive nature. Depending on the course chosen, these consultations
will build upon a number of important successful Commission rules and policies5, as well as Commission
systems6, that streamline and facilitate the review of tower sitings to minimize potential negative impacts
on Tribal cultural and religious assets. It is important to stress here that this area of Tribal consultation is
at its earliest stages of analysis and development. As the Commission begins to formulate its values,
priorities, and positions with respect to towers that are non-compliant under Commission rules, it will do
so by also seeking to understand the values, priorities, and positions of Tribal Nations.

Eligible Telecommunications Carrier Designation Petitions to Serve Tribal Lands

There are ten Tribally owned ETCs today and, as a result of recent policies adopted as part of universal
service reform, there are new opportunities available for Tribes that may want to consider self-
provisioning telecommunications and broadband services to their lands. For example, in the context of
the Mobility Fund and the Tribal Mobility Fund, a Tribally owned applicant need only have its ETC
designation petition filed at the short form application stage in order to participate in the auction.
Opportunities such as these, as well as the ongoing challenges associated with the provision of
telecommunications and broadband services on Tribal lands, has sparked a renewed interest in the
opportunities available through ETC designation. There are currently two ETC designation petitions
pending from Tribally owned or affiliated entities, and ONAP anticipates that the number of such

4 The NEPA team is comprised of managers and staff members representing the Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau, the Media Bureau, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, the Office of General Counsel, the
Office of Native Affairs and Policy, and the Commission’s Federal Preservation Officer. The focus of the NEPA
team, which meets on a weekly basis, is on the effects of construction of communications facilities by or for the use
of the Commission’s licensees under federal environmental statutes, including the National Environmental Policy
Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).
5 Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas, 47 C.F.R. Pt.1, App.B (2001);
Nationwide Programmatic Agreement Regarding the Section 106 National Historic Preservation Act Review
Process, WT Docket No. 03-128, Report and Order, 20 FCC Rcd 1073 (2004); Voluntary Best Practices for
Expediting the Process of Communications Tower and Antenna Siting Review pursuant to Section 106 of the
National Historic Preservation Act (adopted Oct. 25, 2004).
6 For example, the Commission’s Tower Construction Notification System (TCNS) is a private, highly developed,
and password protected online notification system that facilitates the interaction between tower constructors and
Tribal representatives on proposed tower constructions.

petitions will likely increase. The requirements and responsibilities associated with ETC status, as well as
the designation process, therefore, will be among ONAP’s top consultation priorities for 2013.

Radio Broadcast Tribal Priority

With the adoption of the 3rd Report and Order and the extension of the Commission’s Tribal Priority
licensing procedures in radio to full power commercial FM licensing, opportunity now abounds for Tribal
Nations in virtually all areas of this important backbone and well-adopted communications technology.
The Tribal Priority gives priority to Tribal Nations or Tribally-owned entities when proposing FM
allotments and when filing AM and noncommercial educational (NCE) FM filing window applications.7
Tribes now broadcast to their own communities with low power, full power, non-commercial educational,
and commercial radio broadcast licenses. New radio licensing provides for Tribal Nations themselves to
preserve and advance their languages and cultural values through a communications medium, to increase
economic development opportunities through advertising and promotion, to provide job training and
employment opportunities, and to promote the further adoption of new communications technologies,
such as broadband. Through audio content development and on-line broadcasting of content previously
available only over-the-air, Tribal Nations can also broadcast to their members living beyond their
broadcast radius, such as their soldiers deployed abroad or other on-line listeners throughout the nation.


Description of the Problem

The lack of communications services in Indian Country – be it high speed internet or “broadband”,
traditional wireline phone service, mobile service, radio broadcast, or TV broadcast service – is well-
known. As the Commission has observed previously, “[b]y virtually any measure, communities on Tribal
lands have historically had less access to telecommunications services than any other segment of the
population.”8 The lack of robust communications services presents serious impediments to Tribal
Nations’ efforts to preserve their cultures and build their internal structures for self-governance, economic
opportunity, health, education, public safety, and welfare.9

7 Policies to Promote Rural Radio Service and to Streamline Allotment and Assignment Procedures, MB Docket No.
09-52, Third Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 17642 (2011) (Rural Radio Third Report and Order); Policies to
Promote Rural Radio Service and to Streamline Allotment and Assignment Procedures, MB Docket No. 09-52, First
Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 25 FCC Rcd 1583, 1586 at para. 5 (2010) (Rural
Radio First Report and Order).
8 Extending Wireless Telecommunications Services to Tribal Lands, WT Docket No. 99-266, Report and Order and
Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 15 FCC Rcd 11794, 11798 (2000); see also Connecting America: The
National Broadband Plan, prepared by the staff of the Federal Communications Commission, March 2010 (National
Broadband Plan) at 152, Box 8-4; see also USF/ICC Transformation Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 17868, para. 636.
9 Improving Communications Services for Native Nations, CG Docket No. 11-41, Notice of Inquiry, 26 FCC Rcd
2672, 2673 at para. 1 (2011) (Native Nations NOI).

At the field hearings, the
Commission heard first hand that
the appalling lack of

communications services on
Tribal lands could even result in
loss of life. For example, the
Governor of the Pueblo of Jemez
told of an incident in 1997 when a

Tribal member, a young woman,
on the Reservation had a seizure
and did not have a telephone to
call for help. Her boyfriend went
to several neighboring homes to

find a phone and, when he finally

found a home with a phone, it did
not work. He then ran to the
The sheer remoteness of regions in Indian Country can itself serve as a barrier to deployment of
sheriff’s house, thinking that the
telecommunications services. Often, Tribal members have to drive to a nearby hilltop on a
sheriff could use his vehicle’s

Reservation just to find a signal for mobile wireless service. And even after that, access may not

be guaranteed.
radio to call in the emergency,
but even the sheriff had to drive
Understanding the complexity of the digital divide in Indian
to higher ground to use his radio
Country requires an appreciation of the unique challenges
to contact Bureau of Indian
facing Tribal Nations, which include deployment, adoption,
Affairs (BIA) law enforcement –
affordability, and access to spectrum, as well as lack of
far away in Albuquerque. By
investment dollars and access to credit and start-up or gap
then, far too many precious
financing. Barriers to the deployment of communications
moments had been lost and it was
services include rural, remote, rugged terrain, areas that are
too late; the young woman died.
not connected to a road system, and difficulty in obtaining
Summary of 1999 field hearing
rights-of-way to deploy infrastructure across some Tribal
lands – all of which increase the cost of installing,

maintaining, and upgrading infrastructure. Affordability of

communications services is affected by often endemic levels
of poverty. Because Tribal Nations cannot easily
collateralize assets that are held in trust by the federal
government, and cannot easily access investment dollars, the
ability to obtain credit and financing is limited. Despite these barriers, however, where Tribal Nations
and their community members do have access to broadband, studies indicate that their rates of adoption
and use are on par with, if not higher than, national averages.10 And that fact is what breathes life into the
Commission’s Tribal policy agenda.


The Commission’s Tribal Agenda before the Office of Native Affairs and Policy

The Commission’s Tribal agenda was forged first during the term of Chairman William E. Kennard as
part of efforts to close the telecommunications divide between Indian Country and the rest of the United
States. The Commission, through two major field hearings in 1999, learned about the lack of services in
Indian Country and the impact this had on peoples’ lives. Testimony provided in hearings, held in
Albuquerque, New Mexico and Chandler, Arizona, painted a picture of communications services so
lacking and so expensive to provide that the Commission ultimately took a number of critical regulatory
The Commission heard testimony from a Navajo Nation Tribal Council Delegate about a disabled person
who requested telephone service only to have the local phone company tell him that it would cost $15,000
to extend a line to his home on the Navajo Reservation. The Delegate estimated that it cost a minimum of
$5,000 to connect a new telephone subscriber on the Reservation, underscoring the critical need for
affordable basic telephone service.11
At the hearings, the Commission heard repeatedly how public safety, emergency services, medical care,
education, and economic development lagged far behind the rest of the country because of the lack of
communications services. It heard how employers were unwilling to locate on Reservations because of
the absence of telecommunications infrastructure, and how it was difficult for Tribal enterprises to
succeed. The Commission heard recommendations from presenters calling for the adoption of a policy
statement recognizing the sovereignty of federally-recognized Tribes and establishing government-to-
government relationships in order to bring improvements in communications services to Indian Country.
The Commission also heard pleas for funding to counter the reluctance of carriers to provide services to
rural and remote areas in Indian Country.12

Policy Initiatives

The hearings laid the foundation for a range of Commission policy initiatives to address the lack of
communications services on Tribal lands. First and most importantly, in 2000, in response to the call for
dealing with Tribes as sovereign nations and creating a framework for developing relationships with
Tribal Nations, the Commission adopted a policy statement on establishing a government-to-government
relationship with Indian Tribes. The Tribal Policy Statement recognized Tribal sovereignty, federal trust
principles, and the importance of Commission consultation with federally-recognized Tribes. It also
acknowledged the principles of Tribal self-governance and recognized “the rights of Tribal governments
to set their own communications priorities and goals for the welfare of their membership.”13 The
Commission’s Tribal Policy Statement and the framework of its enumerated goals and principles guides

11 From testimony available">at
(Pages 41-42).
12 From testimony available at"> and">
13 See Establishing a Government-to-Government Relationship with Indian Tribes, Policy Statement, 16 FCC Rcd
4078, 4080-81 (2000) (Tribal Policy Statement).

the Commission’s work with Tribal Nations to this day in
consultation and coordination efforts exercising the

Commission’s government-to-government relationship with
Upon adoption of the Tribal
Tribal Nations.
Policy Statement in 2000,
Chairman Kennard said, “I

Just one week after release of the Tribal Policy Statement,
believe that the most important
the Commission took its first steps to address the
thing that we have done is to
affordability of telephone service and what was then a 47
adopt a policy statement that
percent telephone penetration rate on Tribal lands. In the
embraces tribal sovereignty, the
Twelfth Report and Order, the Commission acknowledged
federal trust responsibility and
that existing universal service programs were not adequate to
Indian self-governance. . . . We at
sustain telephone subscribership on Tribal lands. With the
the FCC promise to honor your
goal of providing basic telephone service for $1 a month on
fundamental right to self-
Tribal lands, the Commission created the enhanced universal
governance, and we adopted this
service Lifeline and Link Up programs, today known as
statement to ensure that this
Tribal Lands Lifeline and Link Up. The Commission built
right is always respected and
upon the goal of the existing Lifeline and Link Up programs
never infringed upon by the

to help ensure that low-income consumers have and maintain
access to basic telephone service by creating additional
From Chairman Kennard’s ITTI
discounts available only for low-income consumers residing
2000 speech in St. Paul, MN
on Tribal lands. The Commission also adopted additional
and more inclusive eligibility criteria to include income
assistance programs in which low-income consumers living
on Tribal lands would be more likely to participate, including
BIA general assistance, Tribally-administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF),
and the National School Lunch Program’s free lunch program. 14
Also in the Twelfth Report and Order, the Commission made groundbreaking decisions about the ETC
designation process that continue to this day to have a profound impact on the provision of
telecommunications services on Tribal lands. ETC status is required for participation in the high-cost and
low-income universal service programs and, once granted, provides access to those subsidy programs.
Relying upon the unique federal trust relationship between the federal government and federally
recognized Tribes, the Commission concluded that it may make the threshold determination of which
entity – the Commission or the state – has jurisdiction to make ETC designations for providers serving on
Tribal lands.15 The process that the Commission created in 2000 has facilitated the designation of ETCs
on Tribal lands, including the designation of Tribally owned ETCs, providing access to universal service
funding for the provision of telecommunications service on Tribal lands.
In yet another action designed to increase the availability of telephone service on Tribal lands in 2000, the
Commission adopted rules to provide incentives for wireless telecommunications carriers to serve

14 See Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service; Promoting Deployment and Subscribership in Unserved and
Underserved Areas, Including Tribal and Insular Areas, CC Docket No. 96-45, Twelfth Report and Order,
Memorandum Opinion and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 12208 (2000) (Twelfth
Report and Order).
15 Twelfth Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 12261, para. 108.

consumers on Tribal lands. Specifically, the Commission established Tribal lands bidding credits that
were available in auctions markets that contained qualifying Tribal areas with telephone penetration rates
below 70 percent. That initial threshold level has since been raised to 85 percent. To qualify for the
credit, winning bidders were required to use the license to deploy facilities and offer service to qualifying
Tribal areas and to obtain Tribal consent to such deployment. 16
Beginning in 2000, a major focus of the Commission was a review and update of its environmental and
historic preservation processes for compliance with, among other legal requirements, Section 106 of the
National Historic Preservation Act.17 Section 106 is the authority by which federal agencies consult with
Tribes to avoid and minimize impacts of federal undertakings upon sites of religious and cultural
significance to Tribal Nations. The pervasive concern across Indian Country at that time was that the
siting of communications towers, including mobile wireless and broadcast towers, were placing Tribal
sacred sites at risk as they were not being properly reviewed. At the same time, the wireless and tower
industries were seriously concerned that an onerous review of towers would impede the deployment of
these critical services. With such controversial attention, Congressional oversight hearings, and potential
litigation, the Commission undertook to address Tribal interests in a series of regulatory actions.
First, in 2001, the Commission adopted a Nationwide Collocation Agreement, streamlining the review
processes for collocating on existing infrastructures.18 Learning of the myriad Tribal concerns in the
process of adopting this agreement, WTB and the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB)
coordinated in 2003 and 2004 on a consultation team with Tribal leaders and Tribal Historic Preservation
Officers from throughout the nation. In late 2004, these efforts culminated with the adoption of a new
Nationwide Programmatic Agreement (NPA) for streamlining the tower siting process.19 The NPA,
established between the Commission, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the National
Council of State Historic Preservation Officers, adopted new streamlined review protocols and
underscored the Commission’s commitment to see compliance with Section 106 in the protection of
Tribal sacred sites.
Concurrent with the NPA, the Commission undertook two other actions as a result of the award-winning
course of consultation and coordination with Tribal Nations on these important concerns. First, the
Commission created the Tower Construction Notification System (TCNS), an online, double-blind, and
private notification system that automatically creates a level of information flow between the Tribal
Nations and tower constructors.20 TCNS enables Tribes to notify tower constructors of proposed tower

16 See Extending Wireless Telecommunications Services to Tribal Lands, WT Docket No. 99-266, Report and Order
and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 11794 (2000).
17 See 16 U.S.C. § 470f. Section 106 generally requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their proposed
undertakings on historic properties. Section 101 (d)(6) specifically governs how historic properties of traditional
cultural and religious importance to federally recognized Tribes are to be considered in the Section 106 process.
16 U.S.C. § 470a(d)(6).
18 Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas, 47 C.F.R. Pt.1, App.B.
19 Nationwide Programmatic Agreement Regarding the Section 106 National Historic Preservation Act Review
Process, WT Docket No. 03-128, Report and Order, 20 FCC Rcd 1073 (2004); see also Nationwide Programmatic
Agreement Regarding the Section 106 National Historic Preservation Act Review Process, 47 C.F.R. Pt.1, App.C.
20 Federal Communications Commission, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Towers and Antennas: TCNS/E-
106,"> (last visited Mar. 19, 2013).

constructions that may require more review based on areas of Tribal concern, providing the capability for
the further exchange of information.
On February 5, 2005, the Commission also entered into a Best Practices Agreement with the United
South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. (USET), an inter-Tribal government association of the Tribal Nations from
Maine to Florida to Texas.21 USET, along with the National Congress of American Indians, was the
leading organization in fostering the consultation with the Commission on the Section 106 concerns. A
year earlier, the Commission and USET had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on
development of certain principles, procedures and best practices.22 The NPA, TCNS, and USET Best
Practices Agreement together provided expedited new processes for the review of towers for compliance
with Section 106. These actions addressed the potential impact on Tribal sacred sites nationwide by the
siting of communications towers in a comprehensive method, and engaged the Tribal Nations both prior
to siting and in the course of siting – a process that, that many years later, has become a high standard and
example to other agencies across the face of the federal government.
In 2008, the Commission adopted an emergency cap on payments to competitive ETCs under the
universal service high-cost program that was intended to stem the growth of the Fund until the
Commission adopted comprehensive reform. In the context of explosive growth of competitive ETCs
accessing high-cost program support, the Commission had found that such a cap was necessary to ensure
the future viability of the Universal Service Fund. Noting both the extremely low telephone penetration
rate and the high level of poverty on many Tribal lands, however, the Commission waived the cap on
Tribal lands under what was known as the Covered Lands Exception. The Commission recognized that
higher levels of high-cost support were necessary to facilitate the expansion of wireless service on Tribal

Indian Telecom Training Initiative

The Commission also understood the importance of bringing together Tribal leaders, federal government
officials, and industry to explore how communications services could be most effectively deployed in
Indian Country. In September 2000, the Commission co-sponsored a seminal national conference in St.
Paul, Minnesota, called the Indian Telecom Training Initiative 2000 (ITTI 2000). More than 600 people
attended, including representatives from 135 federally recognized Tribes. More than 50 experts from
federal government agencies, Tribal communities, the private sector, and foundations provided technical,
financial, and regulatory information to inform Tribal leaders about the telecommunications industry.
Chairman Kennard addressed the conference and articulated the Commission’s commitment to Indian
Country. As part of the Commission’s effort to ensure that the voices of Tribal Nations were heard at
every level of the Commission, Chairman Kennard announced that a new official position at the

21 Voluntary Best Practices for Expediting the Process of Communications Tower and Antenna Siting Review
pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (adopted Oct. 25, 2004).
22 Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Communications Commission and the United South and
Eastern Tribes, Inc., Regarding Recommended Best Practices and the Section 106 Process (adopted Feb. 3, 2004).
23 High-Cost Universal Service Support; Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service; WC Docket No. 05-337,
CC Docket No. 96-45, Order, 23 FCC Rcd 8834 (2008) (Interim Cap Order).

Commission, the FCC Liaison to Tribal Governments, would
serve as the principal contact between Tribal Nations and the

“This conference is the
In June 2001, the Commission co-sponsored a second ITTI
culmination of the work that we
conference in St. Paul, Minnesota – “Doing Business in Indian
have done at the FCC during my
tenure as Chairman to close the
Country” – this one targeted to business and industry leaders in
telecommunications divide
the areas of marketing, finance, sales, and business development
between Indian Country and the
in the telecommunications and utility industries. Speakers also
rest of America. Yet it is, in many
included Tribal government leaders, Tribal elders, and Tribal
ways, just the beginning of our
college professors. The conference was developed to address
work to make sure that no one
industry’s questions on initiating contact and developing
living in Indian Country is left
programs with Tribal governments. The conference included
behind in the Information Age.”
sessions on Tribal priorities and business opportunities in
“You must insist that your voices
telecommunications, how to work with Tribal governments,
are heard. You must insist on an
Tribal sovereignty issues, and community protocols and
institutional commitment from the
concerns as they relate to building telecommunications and
FCC. You must insist that you
utilities infrastructure and markets.
get as much attention as the
armies of industry lobbyists

A third national ITTI conference, directed at Tribal leaders, was
scheduled for October 2001. Due to the effects of the events of
“Together, we can make sure that
September 11, 2001, ITTI 2001 was initially postponed and
the first Americans on this
ultimately cancelled. Many calls from every corner of Indian
continent are not the last
Country asked the Commission to continue and further develop
Americans to enjoy the wonders
its Tribal training initiatives.
of the Internet.”

Indian Telecommunications Initiatives

From Chairman Kennard’s ITTI
2000 speech in St. Paul, MN

In 2002, under the leadership of Chairman Michael Powell, the
Commission shifted its focus from large national meetings to
smaller, regional events, re-named the Indian
Telecommunications Initiatives (ITI) Regional Workshops and
Roundtables. ITI’s goals were threefold – to increase the telephone penetration rate on Tribal lands; to
expand the infrastructure necessary to provide telecommunications services on Tribal lands; and to inform
consumers in Indian Country about financial support available through federal government programs,
including the universal service fund. ITI’s intended outcomes included increasing Internet access,
improving access to emergency and long-distance medical services, and enhancing education and
employment opportunities for residents of Indian Country. As Chairman Powell said at the time, “The
FCC remains committed to addressing telecommunications challenges facing Indian Country."25

24 Chairman Kennard’s speech is available">at
25 Press Release, Federal Communications Commission, FCC Announces Indian Telecommunications Initiative
(Apr. 30, 2002), available at"> (last
visited Mar. 19, 2013).

The Commission conducted a
number of activities as part of its
ITI program, in coordination with
Tribal governments, inter-Tribal

organizations, industry, and
others. But the cornerstone of ITI
was a series of regional
workshops and roundtables,
which were held in the following

Rapid City, SD: July 27-29,

Salt Lake City, UT: July 16-17,

In 2004, Cha

irman Mic
hael K. P
well and United
uth an
d Eastern

Tribes (USET)


President Keller George signed a Memorandum of Understanding on formal Best

Practices Agreement to be followed in siting communications towers and to cooperate

Albuquerque, NM: July 10-11,
in the establishment and maintenance of the Tower Construction Notification System.

The FCC-USET best practices were created to promote cooperation between USET

Tribes, the Commission, FCC Applicants, and entities subject to the jurisdiction of the

Polson, MT: October 24-25,

Commission, and to protect Tribal properties of religious and cultural significance.

IT I focused on outreach, bringing together Tribal, federal
San Diego, CA: July 27-28,
government, and industry representatives to provide clear,
practical, “how to” information about telecommunications
services and infrastructure development that Tribes could use
Albuquerque, NM: July 28-29,
to gain access to critical telecommunications services. For
example, the Commission distributed educational materials for
Coeur d’Alene, ID: November 9-
Tribal consumers on issues such as the enhanced Tribal
10, 2004
Lifeline and Link Up programs and how to file an informal
complaint at the Commission. The Commission also
Rapid City, SD: May 26-27,
distributed information about rules and policy initiatives
affecting telecommunications services in Indian Country. ITI
Reno, NV: July 17-18, 2003
outreach activities also provided the Commission with an

opportunity to establish beneficial relationships with Tribal
governments, organizations and their members, and to listen

and learn about the telecommunications needs of Tribal

A panel at the 2004 FCC-Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians

Southern California Tribal Nations were the target audience for

Indian Tel

ecom Initiatives (ITI) Regional Workshop and

the San Diego ITI held in 2006. Attendees discussed spectrum

Roundtable, held on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation in Idaho.

that would become available after the digital TV transition.

Creation of the Office of Native Affairs and Policy

The National Broadband Plan signaled a new beginning for the Commission’s Tribal policy work.
Including dozens of recommendations for expanding the reach of broadband into Indian Country,26 and
incorporating the comments and input of Tribal leaders,27 the National Broadband Plan breathed new life
into the Commission’s Tribal agenda. Broadly, the Plan recommended that the Commission should
increase its commitment to government-to-government coordination with Tribal leaders and consider
increasing Tribal representation in telecommunications planning. More specifically, the National
Broadband Plan recommended the creation of a Tribal office within the Commission, whose role would
include responsibility for fostering consultation with Tribal governments and leading the development
and implementation of a Commission-wide Tribal agenda in coordination with the other Bureaus and
Thus, the Office of Native Affairs and Policy (ONAP) was created by a unanimous vote of the
Commission on July 29, 2010,29 as the policymaking and physical embodiment of the Commission’s
commitment to Indian Country. The remaining months of 2010 saw the creation and the staffing of
certain positions within ONAP. That summer and early fall, ONAP introduced the new Office to Tribal
Nations by actually rolling it out in Indian Country, with managers and members of the newly formed
staff traveling to meetings with Tribal leaders, a Tribally owned radio station, a Tribal utility authority,

26 See generally National Broadband Plan. Tribal-specific recommendations included the creation of a Tribal
Broadband Fund to support sustainable broadband deployment and adoption on Tribal lands (Recommendation
8.18); the creation of an FCC-Tribal Broadband Task Force (Recommendation 9.14); and the establishment of Tribal
seats on the Universal Service Joint Board and the Universal Service Administrative Company’s Board of Directors
(Recommendation 9.14).
27 Commenters included, for example, the National Congress of American Indians, the California Association of
Tribal Governments, and Native Public Media.
28 National Broadband Plan at 184.
29 Establishment of the Office of Native Affairs and Policy in the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau,
Order, 25 FCC Rcd 11104 (2010) (ONAP Order).

and an inter-Tribal association – the first of which was a meeting with the National Tribal
Telecommunications Association, the association of Tribally owned and operated telecommunications

During one of the first field

efforts that the Office of Native

Affairs and Policy undertook in

Indian Country in 2010, ONAP,

Media Bureau, and Public Safety

and Homeland Security Bureau
staff met in New Mexico with

Commissioners and staff of the

Navajo Nation

Telecommunications Regulatory

Commission and posed for a

photo afterwards.

In 2011, in close coordination with the Office of the Chairman and several other Bureaus and Offices,
ONAP undertook to develop a renewed regulatory and policy agenda for Tribal Nations and Native
Communities. On March 3, 2011, the Commission used its open public meeting agenda to hold Native
Nations Day, which was groundbreaking in many ways. First, the Commission rolled out three major
rulemakings affecting Tribal lands – the Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking of the Tribal Priority in radio broadcasting, the launch of the Spectrum Over Tribal Lands
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for new wireless licensing opportunities for Tribal Nations and Tribal
lands, and the launch of ONAP’s omnibus Notice of Inquiry seeking comment on a wide range of issues
related to communications services in Indian Country.30 Second, for the very first time, elected Tribal
leaders directly addressed the full Commission at an Open Meeting. A panel of four Tribal Leaders from
across the nation illustrated the many issues of concern and the communications needs of Tribal Nations.
Many more elected and appointed Tribal leaders were present in the audience. And third, Chairman
Genachowski announced the members of the newly formed FCC-Native Nations Broadband Task Force.
Native Nations Day was a rare sight in the Commission’s Meeting Room and another seminal day in the
history of the Commission’s work with Tribal Nations.

Additional major rulemakings affecting Tribal lands were also released in 2011 and 2012.31 Also in 2012,
ONAP launched a renewed and strengthened outreach, training, consultation, and coordination with

30 Policies to Promote Rural Radio Service and to Streamline Allotment and Assignment Procedures, MB Docket
No. 09-52, Second Report and Order, First Order on Reconsideration, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule
Making, 26 FCC Rcd 2556 (2011) (Rural Radio Second Report and Order); Improving Communications Services
for Native Nations by Promoting Greater Utilization of Spectrum over Tribal Lands, WT Docket No. 11-40, Notice
of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 2623 (2011) (Spectrum over Tribal Lands NPRM); Native Nations NOI, 26
FCC Rcd 2672.
31 See infra A Renewed Regulatory, pp. 18-24.

Tribal governments and inter-Tribal organizations.
Within this report, much more detail will be provided on

the Commission’s new Tribal consultation and
coordination programs.
“A key component of consultation is to
understand the challenges currently
facing Tribal communities. We urge
the FCC to visit Tribal lands and meet
with Tribal leaders to see the needs of
their communities firsthand. This will
prove invaluable as the FCC partners
with Tribes to develop and implement
policy solutions. Effective consultation
will depend upon the availability – and
the ability – of the Office of Native
Affairs and Policy to coordinate with
Tribes to develop viable and genuine
Tribal-centric solutions. Indian
Country has been encouraged by the
creation of the Office. However, to be
credible and effective, it must be given
sufficient authority over

communications issues affecting
Indian Country.”

In a historic event, Tribal leaders addressed the full Commission for the very

first time on Native Nations Day, March, 3, 2011. Seated (pictured left to
From National Congress of American
right) at the presentation table were Lieutenant Governor Joe Manuel of the

Gila River Indian Community, Chairman Robert Smith of the Pala Band of

Indians President Jefferson Keel’s
statement on Native Nations Day 2011

Mission Indians, Council Member Susie Allen of the Confederated Tribes of

the Colville Reservation, and President Jefferson Keel of the National

Congress of American Indians, who serves as the Lieutenant Governor of

the Chickasaw Nation. Joining the panel was Geoffrey C. Blackwell, Chief

of the Commission’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy.

Thus, the creation of ONAP represented a major step forward in the Commission’s own trust relationship
with Tribal Nations. As the federal government shares a unique trust relationship with federally
recognized Tribes,32 this historic relationship requires the federal government to adhere to certain
fiduciary standards in its treatment of and dealings with Tribal Nations.33 In this regard, the federal
government has a long-standing policy of promoting Tribal self-sufficiency and economic development,
as embodied in various federal statutes.34 As an independent agency of the federal government, the
Commission formally recognizes its own general trust relationship with, and responsibility to, federally

32 See, e.g., Seminole Nation v. United States, 316 U.S. 286, 296 (1942) (citing Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia,
30 U.S. 1 (1831); United States v. Kagama, 118 U.S. 375 (1886); Choctaw Nation v. United States, 119 U.S. 1
(1886); United States v. Pelican, 232 U.S. 442 (1914); United States v. Creek Nation, 295 U.S. 103 (1935); Tulee v.
State of Washington, 315 U.S. 681 (1942).
33 See, e.g., United States v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206 (1983).
34 See, e.g., The Indian Financing Act of 1974, 25 U.S.C. § 1451 (1974); The Indian Self-Determination and
Education Assistance Act of 1975, 25 U.S.C. § 450 (1975); The Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, 25 U.S.C. § 1301
(1968); see also White Mountain Apache Tribe v. Bracker, 448 U.S. 136, 142 (1980); New Mexico v. Mescalero
Apache Tribe, 462 U.S. 324, 334 (1983).

recognized Tribes.35 The Commission also recognizes “the rights of Indian Tribal governments to set
their own communications priorities and goals for the welfare of their membership.”36 Therefore, the
Commission has concluded that any approach to deploying communications services, removing barriers
to entry, and increasing broadband availability and adoption must recognize Tribal sovereignty,
autonomy, and independence, the unique status and needs of Tribal Nations and Native communities, the
importance of consultation with Tribal government and community leaders, and the critical role of Tribal
anchor institutions.37

The Mission of the Office of Native Affairs and


The Office of Native Affairs and Policy has
In the Order creating ONAP, the Commission explicitly
testified in four hearings on Capitol Hill:
defined ONAP’s role and responsibilities:

April 5, 2011:

“Closing the Digital Divide:
Connecting Native Nations & Communities

This office will be charged with bringing the
to the 21st Century,” before the Committee
benefits of a modern communications
on Communications, Science and
infrastructure to all Native communities by,
Technology, U.S. Senate
among other things, ensuring robust
government-to-government consultation with

Oct. 6, 2011:

“Internet Infrastructure in

Federally-recognized Tribal governments and
Native Communities: Equal Access to E-
other Native organizations; working with
Commerce, Jobs and the Global
Commissioners, Bureaus, and Offices, as well
Marketplace,” before the Committee on
as with other government agencies and private
Indian Affairs, U.S. Senate
organizations, to develop and implement

December 1, 2011:

“Deficit Reduction and

policies for assisting Native communities; and
Job Creation: Regulatory Reform in Indian
ensuring that Native concerns and voices are
Country,” before the Committee on Indian
considered in all relevant Commission
Affairs, U.S. Senate
proceedings and initiatives.38

June 8, 2012:

“FCC’s Rule on USF and Its

Ensuring that Native voices are heard and taken into
Impact on American Indians & Alaska
account at the Commission requires that ONAP conduct
Natives,” before the Subcommittee on Indian
& Alaska Native Affairs, Committee on

its mission in two places – on Tribal lands across the
Natural Resources, U.S. House of
nation and in Bureaus and Offices across the
Commission. Internally, ONAP’s role is to coalesce
Native input and coordinate with Bureaus and Offices,

Commissioners’ Offices, and the Chairman’s Office, to
address issues raised and the impacts on Tribal Nations
and carriers serving Tribal lands. That is, ONAP helps
facilitate, draft, analyze, and advise on policy issues affecting Indian Country at every level of drafting
and decision making in the Commission. Externally, ONAP convenes and consults with Tribal leaders in
Indian Country, meets with carriers and providers that serve Tribal lands, and brings their perspectives
directly into the Commission and its policies. These roles are necessarily complimentary and inter-

35 Tribal Policy Statement, 16 FCC Rcd at 4080-81.
36 Id.
37 Native Nations NOI, 26 FCC Rcd at 2676, para. 5.
38 ONAP Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 11104, para. 1.

dependent – one cannot be accomplished without accomplishing the other. ONAP fuses both its internal
and external roles by bringing Indian Country to the Commission and the Commission to Indian Country.
ONAP also fulfills a role for the Commission on Capitol Hill, as evidenced by ONAP’s testimony at four
Congressional hearings in two short years. In addition, ONAP helped to prepare Commissioner Clyburn
for her testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in 2012. While a broad range of issues
affecting Indian Country was addressed, the primary focus of four of these five Congressional hearings
was universal service reform and its impact on Tribal lands.
In short, ONAP has worked in partnership with the Bureaus and Offices of the Commission, and across
and in partnership with Indian Country, to help create regulatory platforms for new and improved
relationships and growth of opportunities between the communications industry and Tribes. ONAP has
also worked to help create opportunities in the Commission’s rules for Tribal Nations to own and operate
communications entities and self-provision for, in many instances, self-provisioning is the only model
that ensures such costly critical communications infrastructure and services will be delivered to Indian
Country. A fundamental goal of the federal trust relationship is to provide opportunities to Tribal Nations
and Native communities to exercise their own self-determination. And, as the Commission has
previously stated, “Native Nations are intimately acquainted with their members’ needs and have valuable
insight into how to meet them.”39
A common thread in ONAP’s work, and therefore throughout this report, is teamwork. ONAP has
focused since its inception on providing valuable and meaningful input and assistance. This means
ONAP staff rolling up their sleeves, working side by side with colleagues in the other Bureaus and
Offices, with the shared goal of ensuring that Native voices are heard and receive appropriate action in all
relevant rulemakings and other proceedings at the Commission.
As the roots of the problems that led to the digital divide in Indian Country run deep and represent
complexity involving the law, policy, and history, in many ways the work has just begun. An overview
of these coordinated efforts appears below.



A Renewed Regulatory Agenda

The Commission established ONAP to more fully realize the Commission’s long-standing commitment to
the trust relationship between the federal government and Tribal Nations. With ONAP helping lead the
efforts, the Commission has worked ever more closely with Tribal governments and incorporated policy
recommendations and comments from Tribal governments, Tribally-owned telecommunications
companies, and regional and national inter-Tribal organizations. This commitment to the federal trust
relationship is found in a number of specific policies and new opportunities for Tribal Nations, including
reforms to the Commission’s universal service programs and broadcast licensing rules. For example, the
Commission adopted numerous Tribal-specific provisions in the Connect America Fund and the Lifeline
and Link Up programs as part of its comprehensive universal service reform, and extended the established

39 Native Nations NOI, 26 FCC Rcd at 2679, para. 12.

Tribal Priority rules to enable Tribal Nations to more easily obtain full power commercial FM radio

Chairman Julius Genachowski greets the Honorable Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians and Lieutenant

Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, and the Honorable Susie Allen, Business Council Member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, at the

Open Commission Meeting held on Native Nations Day 2011.

Native Nations NOI

One of the first policy initiatives which ONAP led was the launch of an omnibus Notice of Inquiry – just
seven months after the Office was created – on a broad cross-section of issues that contribute to and result
from the lack of robust communications services on Tribal lands. On Native Nations Day 2011, ONAP
presented the Notice of Inquiry to the full Commission, with many Tribal leaders in attendance. In the
Notice of Inquiry, the Commission for the first time articulated and sought comment on certain critical
communications issues facing Indian Country, laying the groundwork to identify present and future
solutions. These issues included greater broadband deployment, adoption issues, deployment issues,
opportunities for Tribal self-provisioning of communications services, the need for a uniform definition of
Tribal lands to be used across the Commission in rulemakings, and the importance of strengthening the
Commission’s government-to-government consultation process with Tribal Nations.40 Many of these
issues, and the comments received in response to the Notice of Inquiry, have informed subsequent Tribal
policy initiatives. On many issues, ONAP continues to work with Tribal leaders, inter-Tribal
organizations, and industry to develop the records for regulatory actions and policy initiatives.

40 See generally Native Nations NOI, 26 FCC Rcd 2672.

Universal Service Reform

In the context of the Connect America Fund and the reform of

Tribal Provisions in USF

the universal service high-cost program, dozens of Tribal-


specific questions were presented in the proposed rulemaking,
Inclusion of the Hawaiian Home
and the Commission engaged Tribal governments and
Lands in the definition of Tribal
associations, Native institutions, and community leaders
throughout the country. The Commission established an open
and direct dialogue through ONAP and the various Bureaus
Adoption of a Tribal government
and Offices across the agency. As a result, the reforms
engagement obligation
adopted by the Commission recognize the unique
Creation of the Tribal Mobility
circumstances and challenges of providing
Fund, including a 25 percent
telecommunications and broadband services on Tribal lands
bidding credit for Tribally owned
and take numerous steps to address these challenges.41
or controlled ETCs and a special
ETC designation provision
With the creation of the Mobility and Tribal Mobility Funds,
the Commission established a universal service support
Special consideration for remote
areas of Alaska
mechanism dedicated expressly to mobile services. Phase I of
the Mobility Fund offered approximately $300 million in one-
Limited exception to the phase-
time support to address gaps in mobile service availability by
down of competitive ETC support
supporting the build-out of current and next-generation
for Standing Rock
mobile networks in areas where these networks are
Telecommunications, Inc.
unavailable. Phase I of the Tribal Mobility Fund will offer an
Priority for waiver petitions filed
additional $50 million in one-time support targeted
by ETCs serving Tribal lands
exclusively for advanced mobile services on Tribal lands.
Carrier reporting requirements to
Phase II of the Mobility Fund will offer $500 million annually
Tribal governments
for ongoing support of mobile services, with up to $100
million of this amount designated annually and exclusively for
Questions in the FNPRM
support to Tribal lands. These set-asides for Tribal lands
regarding the impact of proposed
represent an extraordinary commitment by the Commission
reforms on Tribally owned ETCs
for the foreseeable future. Mobile providers serving Tribal
Adoption of a Tribal variable in
lands are eligible for funds available under both the Mobility
the High Cost Loop Support
and Tribal Mobility Funds.42 There exists great potential for
regression analysis
Indian Country in both the Mobility and Tribal Mobility
Adoption of an Alaska variable in
the High Cost Loop Support
regression analysis
Another important development to identify and address root
causes behind the lack of services on Tribal lands is the

adoption of a Tribal government engagement obligation for all

ETCs either currently providing service or seeking to serve
Tribal lands. This obligation now requires carriers to
“meaningfully engage” with the Tribal governments on whose

41 See generally USF/ICC Transformation Order, 26 FCC Rcd 17663 (for example, the Commission established
Tribal government engagement obligations and created the Tribal Mobility Fund).
42 USF/ICC Transformation Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 17819, para. 481.

lands they serve, on a series of topical areas and issues critical to the deployment of communications
services on Tribal lands. At a minimum, the USF/ICC Transformation Order stated that such discussions
must include: (1) a needs assessment and deployment planning with a focus on Tribal community anchor
institutions; (2) feasibility and sustainability planning; (3) marketing services in a culturally sensitive
manner; (4) rights of way processes, land use permitting, facilities siting, environmental and cultural
preservation review processes; and (5) compliance with Tribal business and licensing requirements.43
The Commission adopted this obligation in response to commenters that included the National Tribal
Telecommunications Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the Affiliated Tribes of
Northwest Indians, and Native Public Media, who emphasized the critical role that Tribal consultation
and engagement play in the successful deployment of service on Tribal lands. ONAP coordinated
numerous meetings with industry representatives both before and after the adoption of this engagement
requirement, involving many communications companies and providers on Tribal lands, as well as many
state communications industry associations, including Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, New Mexico, and
Arizona. The Commission did not supplant its own ongoing obligation to consult with Tribes on a
government-to-government basis, but instead recognized the important role that all parties play in
expediting communications service to Tribal lands.44 The Tribal government engagement obligation
holds great promise and represents an opportunity for Tribal governments and ETCs to coordinate on
many issues critical to the deployment and adoption of communications services on Tribal lands.
Finally, the adoption of a Tribal variable in the regression analysis used to calculate High Cost Loop
Support recognized that there are additional costs associated with the provision of telecommunications
services on Tribal lands. In the USF/ICC Transformation Order, the Commission adopted a
benchmarking rule intended to moderate the expenses of rate-of-return carriers with very high costs
compared to their similarly situated peers, while further encouraging other rate-of-return carriers to
advance broadband deployment.45 In its subsequent Benchmarks Order, the Wireline Competition
Bureau built on the analysis provide in the USF/ICC Transformation FNPRM, but also included a number
of changes in response to comments received and further analysis by the Bureau. One such change,
incorporated as result of input received from some of the Tribally owned ETCs, was the adoption of a
Tribal variable that takes into account the higher costs associated with providing service on Tribal lands.46
The adoption of the Tribal variable, as well as the adoption of an Alaska variable, underscores the often
transformative impact of ensuring that Tribal voices are heard and incorporated into rulemakings and
policies affecting Indian Country.

43 USF/ICC Transformation Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 17858, para. 604.
44 Id. at 17868, para. 637; Office of Native Affairs and Policy, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and Wireline
Competition Bureau Issue Further Guidance on Tribal Government Engagement Obligation Provisions of the
Connect America Fund, WC Docket No. 10-90 et al., Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 8176, 8178 (Wireline Comp. Bur.,
Wireless Telecomm. Bur., Off. of Native Aff. & Pol’y 2012) (Further Guidance Public Notice).
45 USF/ICC Transformation Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 17741-47, paras. 210-26.
46 Connect America Fund High-Cost Universal Support, WC Docket Nos. 10-90, 05-37, Order, 27 FCC Rcd 4235 at
Appendix A, para. 101 (Wireline Comp. Bur. 2012) (Benchmarks Order).

Lifeline and Link Up

Since 2000, the Tribal Lands Lifeline and Link Up programs have provided invaluable assistance in
helping to dramatically improve access to telephone service for low-income residents of Tribal lands,
many of which face often endemic levels of cyclical poverty. In the context of its 2012 reform of these
programs, the Commission recognized the unique circumstances facing Tribal lands and adopted a
number of Tribal-specific provisions. For example, the Commission adopted the Food Distribution
Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), commonly referred
to as the “commodity program,” as an eligibility criterion.

The Commission learned that, because many Tribal elders
opted for this program rather than food stamps, they had been
On December 19, 2012, the
excluded from receiving the benefits of Lifeline and Link Up
Wireline Competition Bureau
support. As another example, the Commission preserved the
selected 14 participants for the
Link Up program on Tribal lands while eliminating it
Lifeline Broadband Adoption
Pilot Program. Two Tribally
elsewhere, acknowledging the significant telecommunications
owned ETCs were selected – Gila
deployment and access challenges that persist today on Tribal
River Telecommunications, Inc.
lands. The Commission also adopted a broadband adoption
(GRTI), serving the Gila River
pilot program, in an effort to gather data on broadband
Indian Community, and Hopi
adoption and deployment among low-income consumers, and
Telecommunications, Inc. (HTI),
directed that at least one pilot application providing service
serving the Hopi Tribe.
on Tribal lands be accepted.47 Ultimately, applications from
Both Tribally owned carriers will
two Tribally owned ETCs were accepted into the pilot
gather data on broadband
adoption and deployment among
low-income consumers on Tribal
Spectrum Over Tribal Lands
lands. GRTI’s project will study
Access to spectrum, and the attendant access to wireless voice
the effects of varying subsidy
amounts and choices for
and data services so essential to economic development,
broadband speed. HTI will study
education, and health care, is another critically important
the effects of varying end-user
issue on Tribal lands. The Commission has an ongoing
charges based on broadband
rulemaking proceeding designed to improve Tribal access to
speed and access to discounted
spectrum and to promote greater utilization of spectrum over
Tribal lands.49 In its Spectrum Over Tribal Lands NPRM, the
Commission sought comment on a number of proposals
designed to expand and enhance fixed and mobile wireless
services on Tribal lands – all with the objective of promoting
greater use of spectrum over Tribal lands.

47 Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization; Lifeline and Link Up; Federal-State Joint Board on Universal
Service; Advancing Broadband Availability through Digital Literacy Training; WC Docket Nos. 11-42, 03-109, 12-
23, CC Docket No. 96-45, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 27 FCC Rcd 6656, 6761-
2, at para. 245 (2012) (Lifeline Modernization Order) (maintaining, at the present time, enhanced Link Up support
for those ETCs that also receive high-cost support on Tribal lands).
48 Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, WC Docket No. 11-42, Order, 27 FCC Rcd 15842 (2012)
(Lifeline Pilot Program Order).
49 See generally Spectrum over Tribal Lands NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd 2623.

In the Spectrum Over Tribal Lands NPRM, the Commission proposed a Tribal priority (similar in concept
to the priority in effect for radio broadcast licensing) that would be available only for unserved or
underserved Tribal lands for qualifying Tribal entities, designated as such by the relevant Tribal
government. For such Tribal lands within a geographic area covered by an unassigned license, the
Commission sought comment on a proposal that a Tribal priority would permit a qualifying Tribal entity
to proceed in licensing without proceeding to competitive bidding. To address difficulties that Tribes
have had in securing access to spectrum rights held by existing wireless licensees whose licenses cover
Tribal lands, the Commission also sought comment on a Tribal proposal for the creation of a formal
negotiation process through which a Tribe that had been refused good faith negotiations regarding a
secondary markets transaction within a wireless licensee’s geographic area of license could require the
licensee to enter into such negotiations. The Commission also sought comment on whether and how best
to implement a build-or-divest process when a wireless licensee has fulfilled its construction
requirements, but Tribal lands within the area of license remain unserved or underserved. The
Commission additionally proposed a Tribal lands safe harbor build out provision in which a licensee
would be deemed to have met its construction obligations for its entire service area if it provides a
specified level of service to Tribal lands. 50

Tribal Radio

In the broadcast arena, the Commission has adopted policies to significantly expand the number of radio
stations owned by Tribes broadcasting to Tribal lands. The purpose is to promote sovereign rights of
Tribes by enabling them to provide vital radio services to their communities and set their own
communications priorities and goals. Recent Commission initiatives include establishment of a Tribal
Priority (2010),51 adoption of a methodology for identifying a licensing area that comports with the goals
of the Tribal Priority for a Tribal Nation that lacks a land base, or has a small or irregularly shaped land
base for the purposes of a broadcast licensing contour (2011),52 adoption of a threshold qualifications
process (2011),53 and adoption of certain new low power FM (LPFM) rules tailored to Tribal lands
(2012).54 Each of these initiatives is intended not only to provide radio service tailored to specific Tribal
needs and cultures, but to increase ownership of such radio stations by Tribes and Tribally-owned entities.

50 Spectrum over Tribal Lands NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 2628, para. 10.
51 See generally Rural Radio First Report and Order, 25 FCC Rcd 1583.
52 See generally Rural Radio Second Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 2556.
53 See generally Rural Radio Third Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 17642.
54 See Creation of a Low Power Radio Service; Amendment of Service and Eligibility Rules for FM Broadcast
Translator Stations, MM Docket No. 99-25, MB Docket No. 07-172, RM 11338, Fifth Order on Reconsideration
and Sixth Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 15402 (2012) (LPFM Order).

In northern Wisconsin, ONAP visited radio station WOJB-FM 88.9 FM, which broadcasts the Anishinaabe language in 100,000 watts from

the reservation of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. As with visits to other stations, ONAP spoke with General Manager

Sidnee Kellar and staff about financial and other challenges of operating a Tribally-focused community radio station in a rural or remote


Adjudicatory and Certification Matters

In addition to policy initiatives, ONAP focuses its efforts on working in concert with the other Bureaus
and Offices on a variety of adjudicatory and certification matters. For example, ONAP works in
coordination with the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) and the Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau (WTB) on ETC designation petitions from Tribally-owned entities and publicly or privately
owned entities seeking to serve on Tribal lands. ONAP also works with WCB on multiple types of
adjudicatory matters or complex inquiries including, for example, E-rate appeals and rural health care
questions from program applicants on Tribal lands. ONAP also works with the Bureaus on a variety of
adjudicatory matters involving Tribally-owned ETCs. While by no means an exhaustive list, this is
intended to provide a sense of the array of work involved in ONAP’s mission – most of which is initiated
by virtue of ONAP’s routinely welcome presence on the ground in Indian Country and throughout the
halls at Commission headquarters.

A Renewed Commitment to Consultation, Outreach, and Training

Chairman Genachowski’s appointment of elected and appointed leaders from across Tribal Nations and
senior staff members and decision makers from across the Commission to the FCC-Native Nations
Broadband Task Force on March 3, 2011, brought to life one of the recommendations of the National
Broadband Plan.55 With its mission of, among other things, eliciting input to ensure that Native concerns
are considered in all Commission proceedings related to broadband and developing recommendations for
promoting broadband deployment and adoption on Tribal lands, the Task Force has been an invaluable
resource in rulemaking proceedings critical to Indian Country, including most prominently the reform of
universal service. In many respects, the work of the Task Force has just begun, as we continue to work
together on broadband issues facing Tribal lands and as we launch new initiatives, such as developing and
executing a Commission consultation policy and coordinating with external entities, including other
federal departments and agencies – all of which falls squarely within the mission of the Task Force.

55 See infra Acknowledgement of the FCC-Native Nations Broadband Task Force, pp. 62-63.

The initial kick off meeting of the FCC-Native Nations Broadband Task Force was held in the Commission Meeting Room in May 2011.

With the creation of ONAP, the Commission breathed new life into its consultation and training seminar
initiatives in Indian Country. ONAP met with or presented before approximately 200 Tribal Nations in
fiscal year 2012. As part of these initiatives, the Commission hosted six separate broadband and
telecommunications training and consultation seminars on Tribal lands and in remote regions of the
country. These ongoing “communications 101” and dialogue events are held for one to three days in
length, depending on priorities, and are designed for Tribal leaders and decision makers, Tribal
telecommunications, IT, and strategic planning professionals, as well as industry representatives. In fiscal
year 2012, these events were hosted by the Commission in Washington State, California, Oklahoma,
Wisconsin, and two locations in Alaska. The majority of these events were held on Indian Reservations
and Tribal lands. Each of these training and consultation seminars included presentations and the active
participation of managers and staff from throughout the Commission, including WCB, WTB, the Media
Bureau, and the Office of the Managing Director. A more detailed overview of these consultation and
training seminar initiatives is provided in one of the case studies of this report.
At any given time, ONAP is also involved in a wide array of project-driven consultations with Tribal
Nations – from licensing issues to universal service reform to tower siting issues and beyond. These
consultations range from short-term projects to ongoing, long-term projects. For example, ONAP worked
with the Yurok Tribe to facilitate the award of an experimental license by the Office of Engineering and

Technology. This license permitted the Tribe, in partnership with a wireless provider, to bring mobile
broadband services to previously unserved portions of its Reservation along the Klamath River in
northern California. With respect to long-term, ongoing projects of focus, ONAP works closely with
Tribal Nations that own and operate their own broadband, broadcast, or telephone providers. ONAP
works with Tribal Nations and their providers both individually and through their collective associations,
on a broad range of matters affecting these Tribally owned providers.
For example, ONAP has worked closely with the National Tribal Telecommunications Association
(NTTA), an association comprised of the ten Tribally owned ETCs, since ONAP’s earliest days. This
work has taken the form of attending meetings in Indian Country, helping to facilitate meetings at the
Commission, and ensuring that the often unique circumstances facing Tribally owned and operated
communications providers and ETCs are memorialized in the form of written comments and ex partes.
This valuable input is then analyzed in coordination with other Bureaus and Offices and the Commission
in rulemakings and individual adjudicatory matters. NTTA has coordinated closely with the Commission,
through ONAP, throughout the groundbreaking reform of the high-cost portion of the universal service
ONAP has also coordinated closely with Tribal Nations that own or control radio broadcast stations. This
coordination and consultation also occurs both at the individual and association levels. The best example
of this is the coordination between ONAP, the Audio Division of the Media Bureau, and Native Public
Media (NPM), to focus on the many complicated legal and practical questions found in the Tribal Priority
radio broadcast proceedings. NPM is an association of Tribal radio stations nationwide, that also works
closely with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). NCAI is the oldest and largest inter-
Tribal government organization in the country and has a highly respected Telecommunications
Subcommittee. ONAP has played an important outreach and training role at the annual and quarterly
meetings of NTTA, NPM, and NCAI.

ONAP plays important Tribal consultation and training roles at regular meetings of inter-Tribal government organizations and Tribal

communications industry association, including (pictured from left to right) the National Tribal Telecommunications Association, Native

Public Media and the National Congress of American Indians.

ONAP is also actively involved in the important and sensitive environmental and cultural preservation
review issues associated with the siting of communications towers nationwide, including mobile wireless
and broadcast towers. For example, in 2011, representatives from ONAP and WTB attended a meeting of
the Tribal Historic Preservation Officers from across the northern plains states of Montana, North Dakota,
and South Dakota. This meeting was held in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a region of significant
sacredness to many Tribal Nations. In 2012, ONAP and WTB also took part in the Tribal cultural

preservation “To Bridge A Gap” Conference, held annually in Oklahoma. More of these regional face-to-
face meetings will be necessary across Indian Country in the coming year because of the critical issues
associated with historic preservation review of various classes of deficient or non-compliant towers on
Tribal lands. ONAP also maintains an important ongoing role in these critical issues through its
membership on the Commission’s intra-agency NEPA team. These examples represent but a fraction of
the project-driven consultations in which ONAP is involved, in partnership with colleagues across the
In 2012, ONAP conducted meaningful Tribal Nation consultation and industry coordination work in
places never before visited by the Commission. Certain aspects of ONAP’s visit to Alaska in the summer
of 2012 are perfect examples. Over the course of 10 days, ONAP staff crisscrossed the state of Alaska,
from arrival in the Native Village of Kotzebue to the Native Village of Noatak, the city of Nome,
Anchorage, the Native Village of Ruby, and the city of Fairbanks. ONAP staff met and engaged with
Tribal Councils and Native Corporations, telecommunications providers large and small, inter-Tribal
organizations, remote telemedicine and regional health care facilities, and police chiefs and fire chiefs
responsible for public safety in the most remote environments—all packed into a detailed and aggressive
agenda that would and did challenge even the most travel-hardy policy makers. There were sunset-less
days and extreme weather, which included the largest single day of rainfall in the history of Nome,
Alaska. ONAP hosted a town hall meeting in Nome attended by the general public which, in spite of the
torrential rainfall and cold temperatures, was very well-attended. In the Native Village of Ruby, on a
bluff above the Yukon River, ONAP met with the Ruby Village Tribal Council in the old traditional log
home Council Chambers, in a meeting that was attended by practically every adult member of the
community. The meeting resonated with all too familiar deployment and adoption issues. ONAP hosted
two separate training seminars for Alaska Native Village representatives and communications providers
alike – one in Anchorage, with a keynote address by U.S. Senator Mark Begich; and another in Fairbanks,
hosted in cooperation with the Tanana Chiefs Conference, an inter-Tribal association of Alaska Native

ONAP staff met many residents of the Native Village of Ruby,

ONAP met with the Tribal Council of the Village of Noatak on

Alaska, as they gathered at the Community Hall for a meeting on

several telecom needs. The village is located nearly 100 miles north
telecom issues. Nestled above the Yukon River, Ruby is in the
of the Arctic Circle in far northwest Alaska, and is accessible only by
vast interior of Alaska. While not all the buildings have indoor
small aircraft which lands on a gravel runway that is so common
plumbing, including the Community Hall, the hospitality of the
across Alaska. Food, fuel, virtually everything is flown in. Low water

Native Village of Ruby is legendary. The packed meeting covered

levels make Noatak even inaccessible via boat; however the
many areas of the FCC’s regulations and Tribal prerogatives.
community spirit was warmly welcoming and engaging.

During one of the most extraordinary experiences of an office well familiar with the extraordinary, ONAP
met with the Tribal Council of the Village of Noatak, 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Noatak is
accessible only by air, as there are no roads beyond the edge of the small town and the river levels do not
allow access by boat. Everything comes in by air, and the gas and grocery prices reflect it. ONAP and
the other guests visited Noatak Village leaders along with representatives from Senator Mark Begich’s
office, the Alaska Telephone Association, GCI, and OTZ Telephone Cooperative, Inc., the region’s local
carrier. ONAP saw the daily operations of Noatak’s local telemedicine facility and visited local
telecommunications satellite and network facilities. ONAP staff witnessed first-hand the vast benefits
that telemedicine brings to remote Alaska villages, where the ability of the Tribal health clinic to connect
to physicians via broadband connections is literally the difference between life and death to Tribal village
In the Native Village of Kotzebue, the launching point for visiting north of the Arctic Circle, ONAP
visited the husband-wife team that runs the local community radio station – KOTZ 88.9 FM, 720 AM –
and brought back to the Commission a first-hand view of both the challenges and immense benefits
associated with Tribal broadcasting. In the Native Village of Ruby, ONAP met with representatives of
Yukon Telephone Company, the local telephone company, visiting their local home office and switching
facilities and bringing back to Commission headquarters the perspective of a remote provider facing the
challenges of the universal service reform era.
All of the outcomes of these valuable experiences – in Alaska and throughout Native America – and the
relationships that were initiated and policy perspectives that were furthered, could only be accomplished
when undertaken in face-to-face, on the ground, “muddy boots” efforts. These efforts profoundly
affected ONAP’s and the Commission’s ability to provide fundamentally valuable input and, thereby,
positively and proactively affected the quality of the Commission’s important Tribal policy regulations
and initiatives. As situations are evaluated and solutions identified, much more still remains to be done.

You can get there from here, just not easily

In order to maximize the effectiveness of ONAP’s

reach and engage face-to-face with Native
communities in Alaska, the most time and cost-
efficient routing from the “lower 48” can look like
a military transportation campaign. ONAP staff
embarked on a mission that took them for separate
consultation events, training seminars, meetings,
and site visits via this aggressive itinerary:

Washington, DC to Anchorage

Anchorage to Kotzebue

Kotzebue to Noatak

Noatak to Kotzebue

Kotzebue to Nome

Nome to Anchorage

Anchorage to Fairbanks

Fairbanks to Ruby

Ruby to Fairbanks

Fairbanks to Washington, DC


Many remote locations in Alaska can only be reached by air,

ONAP participated in a town hall meeting in Nome open to the

boat, or barge. Such is the case for the tiny village of Noatak,
general public. Record setting rainfall did not deter many
residents from coming to the meeting. The event was covered by
located about 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
the local newspaper, the Nome Nugget, and by a local radio




The following case studies tie together all of the preceding sections of this Annual Report by illustrating
the real world impact of the Commission’s policies in Indian Country and in Native communities. While
output reporting is important, outcome reporting that illustrates effects is better by an order of magnitude.
That is, outcome reporting brings to life the relevance, importance, and real world impact of otherwise
esoteric or complex Commission rulemakings and the true cost-benefit value of budget dependent Tribal
consultation and outreach efforts. ONAP has selected certain Tribal Nation policy issues and highlighted
their impact in Indian Country to make the words on the pages of this Annual Report come to life – all as
part of ONAP’s ongoing mission to bring Indian Country to the Commission and the Commission to
Indian Country.

Universal Service

The Hopi Tribe

The Hopi Tribe is a federally-recognized sovereign Tribal Nation located in northeast Arizona. The 2,500
square mile Hopi Reservation is made up of 12 villages on three mesas, has a population of roughly 7,000
people, and is located within the Reservation of the Navajo Nation. Sparsely populated and
geographically isolated, the Reservation faces daunting levels of unemployment and the nearest sizeable
town is hours away. 56 In 2005, the Bureau of Indian Affairs reported that the Hopi Reservation suffered
from 66 percent unemployment. Among those employed, 22 percent fell below the Federal Poverty

56 Application for the FCC’s Broadband Adoption Lifeline Pilot Program, WC Docket No. 11-42 at 2 (filed Jul. 9,
2012) (HTI Broadband Pilot Application).

Guidelines.57 The Tribe’s principal economic activities are tourism and agriculture. All government
powers are vested in the Hopi Tribal Council, which is composed of a Chairman and a Vice-President,
each serving four years, and Council members, who serve two-year terms. The current Tribal Council
consists of 14 representatives from the villages of Upper Moenkopi, Bcavi, Kykotsmovi, and Sipaulovi.
Representatives to the Council are elected either by a community election or by an appointment from the
village kikmongwi, or leader.58

The economic and geographic challenges faced by the Hopi Tribe offered little financial incentive to
provide telecommunications services to much of the Reservation. As a result, many people living on the
Reservation lacked access to even basic telephone service as they entered the 21st century and, even where
service was available, outages were frequent due to inadequate network capacity. 59 The Hopi Tribe
determined that “[t]he lack of quality service was hindering the social and economic health of the
Tribe.”60 So, in 2004, after years of inadequate telecommunications service on the Hopi Reservation, the
Hopi Tribal Council established Hopi Telecommunications, Inc. (HTI) and required, among other duties,
that HTI provide a telecommunications infrastructure that promotes economic development and Tribal
sovereignty through empowerment, self-sufficiency, and self-regulation.61

58 The Hopi Tribe, Tribal Governmen">t, (last
visited Mar. 19, 2013).
59 Hopi Telecommunications, Inc., History">, (last visited Mar. 19,
60 Id.
61 HTI Broadband Pilot Application at 2.

HTI purchased the existing infrastructure from the previous wireline provider and began service in
2006.62 Given the high costs of providing service in such a rural and remote area, coupled with the need
to upgrade and expand the old copper infrastructure that it had purchased, HTI sought and received its
ETC designation from the Commission and became the eighth Tribally owned ETC in 2007. HTI began
receiving high-cost support in the first quarter of 2007. Today, HTI continues to play a vital role in a
historically underserved area.
The Hopi Tribe was able to envision ownership and operation of its own telecommunications company in
part because of the success of its long-standing radio station, KUYI – 88.1 FM. Licensed to the Hopi
Foundation, KUYI is an integral part of the community on the Reservation and provided a community
understanding and adoption platform for what HTI has been able to accomplish. Adoption can be driven
by very different types of community anchor institutions in Indian Country, including the presence of
previously well-adopted technologies, such as radio.

ONAP visited KUYI – 88.1 FM on one of its visits to the Hopi Reservation and participated in a live radio broadcast. Multiple volunteers at

KUYI, which means “water” in the Hopi language, come from the nearby High School and take part in the award winning programming.

The Impact of Universal Service on Tribal Lands

The accomplishments of the Hopi Tribe and HTI, in the company’s seven short years of existence, goes to
the heart of universal service. Since its designation as an ETC, HTI has expanded and upgraded service
significantly on the Hopi Reservation. For example, in 2008, HTI began offering its first DSL service.63
Today, in addition to its wireline service offerings, HTI offers satellite phone and internet service for
those who live beyond the reach of HTI’s extensive upgraded copper network. HTI’s broadband
penetration rate today is approximately 40 percent. High-cost universal service funds have been used,
and continue to be used, for the deployment, maintenance, and upgrading of critical infrastructure across
the Reservation and are a cornerstone of HTI’s goal to make broadband access available to all residents in
its service area.

62 HTI Broadband Pilot Application at 2.
63 Id.

The majority of HTI’s residential subscribers – 78 percent – are
eligible for Lifeline, 64 and today the company serves

approximately 850 Lifeline households. 65 The Lifeline and Link
Up programs have been vital assets as HTI expanded the reach
ONAP has visited the Hopi
and adoption of communications services across the Hopi
Reservation on two occasions –
Reservation, providing cash flow for the growing company,
once in 2010 on the newly-formed
making HTI’s services affordable to its customers, and vastly
team’s first trip to Indian Country
and again in 2012. ONAP had
increasing the telephone penetration rate. Since its creation, HTI
the opportunity to visit the two
has marketed and advertised its Lifeline offerings across its service
Tribally owned and operated
area, even enlisting Tribal agencies in its outreach efforts. The
communications companies on
Commission’s decision to maintain Tribal Lands Lifeline support
the Reservation – Hopi
at its current support level and to preserve Link Up on Tribal lands
Telecommunications, Inc. and
was based in large measure on the experiences and comments of
KUYI – 88.1 FM – Hopi Radio.
HTI, the nine other Tribally owned ETCs, and other carriers
At HTI’s main office, ONAP staff
serving Tribal lands nationwide.
met with Carroll Onsae, HTI’s
General Manager and a member
Another testament to HTI’s skillful and determined efforts to
of the FCC-Native Nations
expand the reach of communications services across the Hopi
Broadband Task Force, and
Reservation is the company’s recent selection as a participant in
discussed the impact of USF
the Commission’s Lifeline Broadband Adoption Pilot Program.
reform on HTI. At KUYI, ONAP
As one of 14 successful applicants – and one of two Tribally
staff was interviewed on a live
owned ETCs chosen to participate – HTI’s application consisted of
radio broadcast during its visit to
a comprehensive plan examining the effects of different subsidy
the station.
levels and different equipment costs on broadband adoption.66 The
Both of these visits gave ONAP
support available through the pilot program will help HTI
staff the opportunity to see first-
determine how best to deploy broadband services to its Lifeline
hand the communications
customers across the Hopi Reservation. In addition, HTI’s
challenges that are experienced
participation in the pilot program will generate important data for
on the Hopi Reservation each and
the Commission regarding broadband adoption among low-income
every day. ONAP was then able
populations on geographically-isolated Reservations in high-cost
to bring that experience back to
areas. This represents yet another example of the partnership
the Commission to inform policy
developed and born out of the Commission’s ongoing
decisions aimed at eliminating
the digital divide in Indian
government-to-government consultation with Tribal Nations – as
articulated in the Tribal Policy Statement67 – and, in this instance,
with the Hopi Tribe concerning regulation of its Tribally owned


64 Hopi Telecommunications, Inc., Ex Parte Presentation, WC Docket Nos. 10-90, 07-135, 05-337, 03-109, GN
Docket No. 09-51, CC Docket Nos. 01-92, 96-45, Oct. 14, 2011 (HTI 2011 Ex Parte); HTI Broadband Pilot
Application at 8.
65 Hopi Telecommunications, Inc., Comments, WT Docket 10-208, WC Docket Nos. 10-90, 07-135, 05-337, 03-
109, GN Docket No. 09-51, CC Docket Nos. 01-92, 96-45, Jan. 18, 2012 at 3 (HTI 2012 Comments).
66 HTI Broadband Pilot Application at 7.
67 See generally Tribal Policy Statement, 16 FCC Rcd 4078.

ONAP’s visit to multiple Tribal Nations in Arizona included a visit to the offices of Hopi Telecommunications, Inc. and a visit

to remote areas of the Hopi Reservation.

The Need for Tribal-Specific Rules

HTI and the Hopi Tribe have been invaluable partners to the Commission during the reform of the high-
cost universal service program. Both individually and as a member of the National Tribal
Telecommunications Association, HTI submitted comments, participated in meetings, and provided other
invaluable first-hand information about the challenges associated with providing communications services
on Tribal lands. Perhaps most importantly, HTI traveled to Washington to meet with Commission staff
and, based on its own experience, explained why it was more expensive to provide communications
services on Tribal lands. Under protective order, HTI literally opened its books to Commission staff and
shared its financial information to help the Commission understand the increased costs of being an ETC
on Tribal lands. Both through this effort and in its formal comments in the universal service reform
docket, HTI illustrated the fact that requirements such as rights-of-way and permitting approval processes
that are outside of a Tribe’s control can cause considerable delays in deploying and upgrading
infrastructure, which then result in higher costs.68 HTI’s contributions informed the Wireline Competition
Bureau’s adoption of a Tribal variable in its regression analysis for the calculation of High-Cost Loop
Support, accounting for the increased costs of providing communications services on Tribal lands.69
The experience of the Hopi Tribe prior to the creation of HTI, as well as HTI’s comments in the universal
service reform proceeding, also informed the Commission’s adoption of a Tribal government engagement
obligation in its new Connect America Fund rules. The Hopi Tribe’s decision to create its own
telecommunications company to address the lack of service on the Hopi Reservation is illustrative of a
situation common in Indian Country. That is, in many instances, industry alone cannot deploy service.
Tribal Nations must coordinate with providers or, in some instances, make the decision to create their
own providers. Carriers must coordinate with Tribal governments, as Tribal governments often are
closest to the issues that present barriers to entry and can be the linchpins to potential economic solutions.
Fostering more robust and substantive communication between Tribal governments and the ETCs serving

68 HTI 2011 Ex Parte at 3; HTI 2012 Comments at 7.
69 Benchmarks Order, 27 FCC Rcd at Appendix A, para. 101.

on their lands is a fundamental goal of the new rules requiring engagement and the subsequent guidance
released by ONAP, WTB, and WCB.70
The Hopi Tribe is also represented on the FCC-Native Nations Broadband Task Force by Carroll Onsae,
HTI’s General Manager since the company was established. Mr. Onsae’s contributions, representing the
perspectives of both a Tribally owned ETC and a rate-of-return carrier, have proven invaluable in matters
before the Task Force, including universal service reform, the need for Tribal engagement rules, Lifeline
reform, and access to spectrum over Tribal lands.
The role of the Hopi Tribe and its Tribally owned ETC – HTI – is but one example of the tremendous
value that Tribal governments and providers bring to rulemakings across the Commission. Working side-
by-side with ONAP, Tribal governments and providers exemplify what the Commission has so clearly
articulated as a policy priority – “ensuring that Native concerns and voices are considered in all relevant
Commission proceedings and initiatives.”71 While much has been accomplished since ONAP’s creation,
much more remains to be done in the months and years ahead.

Self-Provisioning and the Need for Spectrum

The Tribal Digital Village of the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, headquartered

on the Pala Reservation
The Pala Band of Mission Indians has over 900 enrolled members living on the Pala Reservation in
Northern San Diego County. The Pala Reservation encompasses over 12,000 acres of land which, despite
its relative proximity to San Diego, a major metropolitan area, can be rocky, undeveloped, and
mountainous. Because of these topographical challenges, until relatively recently, the Pala Reservation
did not have access to terrestrial broadband services. This situation was not unique to Pala, but also
similar to the lack of broadband access experienced in 16 other Tribal Nations that have Reservations in
San Diego County. The challenge facing these Reservations in getting local telecommunications carriers
to provide broadband was primarily economics. The cost of developing fiber in an area with
topographical and terrain challenges could not be justified for the relatively small populations of the

In 2001, the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association (SCTCA), an inter-Tribal government
association consisting of 19 federally recognized Tribes located in Southern California, began developing,
through its Tribal Digital Village project, a wireless broadband network with the help of a private “Digital
Village” grant from Hewlett Packard under a collaborative arrangement with the University of California
at San Diego. Utilizing a microwave backbone to connect 17 member Tribes in San Diego and Riverside
Counties, the SCTCA built 21 backbone and relay sites, each supporting solar-powered antennas
transmitting signal hops up to 26 miles apart, across a network that now extends over 450 miles.72

70 See generally Further Guidance Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 8176.
71 ONAP Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 11104, para. 1.
72 The 17 Tribes connected via the Tribal Digital Village system are as follows: Barona Band of Mission Indians,
Cahuilla Band of Mission Indians, Campo Kumeyaay Nation, Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians, Iipay
Nation of Santa Ysabel, Jamul Indian Village, La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, La Posta Band of Mission Indians,
Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeño Indians, Manzanita Band of Diegueño Mission Indians, Mesa Grande

At initial deployment, the Tribal Digital Village system was designed to connect anchor offices and
institutions to the Internet. These Tribal community institutions included Tribal government offices,
public safety, health care, and educational facilities. This made the delivery of Tribal Temporary
Assistance to Needy Families (Tribal TANF) through a shared services model much more available to the
Tribal families in need of this important federal program, which is also an eligibility criterion for the
Tribal Lands Lifeline and Link Up programs. As a credit to their ingenuity and illustrative of their
determination, the Tribal Digital Village actually made broadband services available in some parts of the
Reservations they cover before telephone service, water, or electricity was available.

Upon final deployment of the Tribal Digital Village, SCTCA and Pala Tribal government officials began
to look at leveraging the connection to their anchor institutions to provide broadband services to
residences on the Reservations, as well as to other Tribal buildings and facilities. Demand for the service
that the system brings is very heavy, and the Tribal Digital Village has completely maximized the
viability and use of the unlicensed spectrum available to it. They began to make inquiries to the FCC and
to the wireless industry community to investigate the possibility of obtaining an exclusive license or
secondary markets agreement that would bring a solution to their spectrum needs. However, a new
license was not available, and licensed spectrum suitable for robust wireless broadband use in and around
the Reservation was not economically accessible via lease or other contractual arrangement with existing
license holders. Because of the challenging geography and topology, trenching to lay additional fiber to
homes and institutions was determined to be cost prohibitive, as their 2009 application for funding under

Band of Mission Indians, Pala Band of Mission Indians, Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians, Rincon Band of Luiseño
Indians, San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians, Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, and Tachi Yokut Tribe.


the Recovery Act73 was not approved in the second round of funding. The
Tribal Digital Village has since had to retool and look to other viable


The Tribal Digital Village Builds

a Local, Native Ecosystem
Led by Matthew R. Rantanen, IT Director of the Pala Reservation and the
The Tribal Digital Village was
Director of Technology for the SCTCA, a wireless solution based on new
originally developed between 2001
“white spaces” spectrum technology for delivering broadband to residential
and 2003 to link unserved Reservation
and other resident-related facilities on the Reservation was planned and
communities over a network spanning
developed following the release of the Commission’s White Spaces Order
350 miles via fiber and wireless
in September 2010.74 Mr. Rantanen serves as a member of the FCC-Native
connections to Tribal administration
buildings, fire stations and other

Nations Broadband Task Force.
public safety facilities, utility

departments, schools and libraries,

The Tribal Digital Village’s Success at the Pala Reservation with White

EPA departments, and Head Start



Using the Tribal
Once deployed, the network grew to be
an incubator of technological expertise

Digital Village
for Native youth. The Shadow Project
network as their
provides training and mentoring for
backbone, the Pala
young people interested in technology
Reservation delivers
and networking. Courses in video and
wireless broadband
audio production are offered in a
media studio located on the Pala

service to homes and
other Tribal buildings
on the Tribal Digital
The Tribal Digital Village now links 14
Village network using
Reservations in San Diego County and

three Reservations in Riverside County
commercial, off-the-
through a network that has grown to
shelf hardware. The

The Tribal Digital Village network connects 17 Reservations in

San Diego and Riverside Counties.

more than 450 miles. Homes and
Tribe erected a
businesses are now served as well.
number of
Courses to assist in developing digital
literacy among Tribal members are
distribution towers in order to deliver broadband, via white spaces, to the
numerous and tied to the operation
home. Already, 10 percent of Pala residences are paying subscribers on the
and success metrics of the Tribal
TDVNet, the consumer arm of the Tribal Digital Village.
Digital Village. Recognizing the digital
divide in nearby off-Reservation areas,

The promise of the white spaces solution in the Pala Tribe’s community
these courses are also available to
may also provide potential economic opportunity, as the Pala Tribe and
non-Native members of the local
Tribal Digital Village are exploring ways to augment their subscriber base
to include non-Native residents who reside in nearby off-Reservation areas.
In these areas, as with the Pala Reservation before the launch of the Tribal
Digital Village, broadband is not readily available today.

73 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115, 516, § 6001(k)(2)(D)
(Recovery Act).
74 Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands; Additional Spectrum for Unlicensed Devices Below 900 MHz
and in the 3 GHz Band; ET Docket Nos. 04-186, 02-380, Second Memorandum Opinion and Order, 25 FCC Rcd
18661 (2010) (White Spaces Order).

Coordinating closely with SCTCA leaders and the Tribal Digital Village management, ONAP has
monitored the ongoing development of the Tribal Digital Village and the Pala Tribe’s use of white spaces
to deliver broadband to previously unserved homes and community facilities in and around the Pala
Reservation. ONAP’s experiences consulting with the Pala Tribe and the SCTCA – along with site visits
to the Tribal Digital Village’s networking, tower, and system sites – have helped inform the Commission
on an important model and success story of a Tribal government self-provisioning initiative that is
bearing fruit for multiple Tribal Nations.

During ONAP’s 2012 Tribal Broadband and Telecom 101 training and consultation workshop held on the
Pala Reservation, ONAP managers, in coordination with Tribal Digital Village and Pala Tribe officials,
adjusted the agenda in progress in response to the interests of the attendees from other Tribal Nations in
touring the Tribal Digital Village’s facilities and receiving a hands-on briefing from Mr. Rantanen.
Monitoring how individual Tribal Nations are successfully finding solutions to the lack of broadband and
telecommunications services, cross-pollinating the information to other Tribal Nations who may benefit
from lessons learned, and bringing this invaluable information back to the Commission is one of ONAP’s
core missions.

The use of white spaces to deliver broadband services to members is a prime example of spectrum self-
provisioning efforts gaining in interest in Indian Country. Other impressive examples of Tribal Nations
self-provisioning wireless solutions in unregulated spectrum-based or hybrid models can be found at the
Coeur d’Alene Tribe in northern Idaho and the Yurok Tribe in northern California. Spectrum needs are
particularly great because the Reservations of many Tribal Nations are located in rural areas with
challenging terrain, exemplified by the badlands of the northern plains and the mountainous forests of the
Pacific Northwest. In areas similar to these, laying fiber across the existing geography is not presently
feasible. Coupled with the general lack of available spectrum and, often, the lack of interest of existing
licensees to develop broadband on Tribal lands, some Tribes have successfully pursued their own
solutions, as in this case with the Pala Band of Mission Indians and the Southern California Tribal
Chairmen’s Association.

The Important Need for Tribal Nation Access to Licensed Spectrum – White Spaces is Just One

Potentially Temporary Solution

The need for more access to robust licensed spectrum to serve Indian Country is not just a critical need
but, potentially, a resource that can mean the difference between life or death. A white spaces or
unregulated spectrum solution will not be technically feasible in all situations in Indian Country, nor will
it necessarily bring the assurance of longevity in growth for new uses, such as in the case of the Tribal
Digital Village. Spectrum needs, topography, resource availability, and existing states of deployment
vary widely among the 566 federally recognized Tribal Nations, as well as on the Hawaiian Home Lands.
In many parts of Indian Country where a white spaces solution simply will not work, access to traditional,
licensed spectrum is an issue that touches many facets of daily life, including public safety and economic
development. In any number of Reservations, huge coverage holes exist – including residential areas and
along isolated and desolate roads, where a simple car malfunction or accident can have serious
consequences because of an inability to call for help. As a result, at one level or another, everyday lives
are at risk in Indian Country.

Since the Commission began its Tribal outreach in 1999, Tribal Nations have illustrated their needs for
spectrum-based services. In very positive and encouraging recent developments, interactions with Tribal
leaders and major inter-Tribal government and economic development organizations illustrate an ever

burgeoning awareness and interest in developing greater utilization of spectrum over Tribal lands.75 As a
direct result of ONAP’s efforts in coordination with individual Tribal governments, ONAP’s hosting of
the Tribal Broadband and Telecom 101 training and consultation workshops, and ONAP’s work with the
FCC-Native Nations Broadband Task Force, Indian Country is more engaged on this critical issue than
ever before. NCAI is building a campaign among and for Tribal Nations to build a more detailed and
factual record in the Spectrum Over Tribal Lands NPRM proceeding. Virtually every corner of Indian
Country is involved, as comments and letters received in the proceeding include those from NCAI,
SCTCA and the Tribal Digital Village, the National Tribal Telecommunications Association, Native
Public Media, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and the Navajo Nation
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.

Another indicator of manifest interest in direct licensing and new regulatory actions for Tribal Nations
was routinely found in the Native Learning Lab at each of ONAP’s broadband and telecommunications
training and consultation workshops. Training and demonstration sessions on the Spectrum Dashboard
have been among the most lively and well-attended of the training modules at the Native Learning Lab.
Attendees were usually surprised at the number of licenses over Tribal lands in spectrum bands suitable
for wireless broadband services. For a number of Tribal workshop attendees, the Dashboard’s ability to
provide licensee and band information represents the first step for individual Tribes to reach out to
licensees and seek leasing, partnership, or other arrangements which will ultimately result in the provision
of service over Tribal lands.

Finally, the upcoming Tribal Mobility Fund Phase I auction, expected in 2013, has generated great
interest in spectrum availability from Tribes who see the auction as an opportunity to help fund build out
of 3G and 4G service in locations where no such service exists. Because participants in the upcoming
auction, limited to ETCs serving Tribal lands, must come to the auction with access to spectrum, ONAP
anticipates a marked interest in the general area of spectrum management. This is why, as noted earlier in
this report, the Tribal Mobility Fund is one of ONAP’s top consultation priorities for 2013.

Ultimately, the Pala Band of Mission Indians, SCTCA, and the Tribal Digital Village is an excellent
example of a Tribe, an inter-Tribal government association, and a Tribal business that were able to
leverage white spaces to self-provision a wireless broadband service, for the time being. However, much
of Indian Country still has yet to realize the promise of broadband. ONAP will continue to work and
consult with Tribes making their way to deployment as well as collaboratively help inform Commission
policy making efforts on matters which directly impact wireless broadband and telecommunications
deployment on Tribal lands.

Tribal Engagement

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation homeland is roughly 2,100 square miles of Pacific
Northwest land in eastern Washington State. The eastern and southern border of the Reservation is the
mighty Columbia River, one of the great historical trade route rivers of Northwest Indian Country. The

75 Letter from Jefferson Keel, President, National Congress of American Indians, to Julius Genachowski, Chairman,
Federal Communications Commission, WT Docket No. 11-40, July 19, 2012 (President Keel Ex Parte Letter).

Colville Reservation also has steep mountain ranges, valleys limited in vehicle access, and old-growth,
undeveloped timber land. With a population of over 9,300,76 residents live in communities spread
throughout the Reservation. It is the home to the descendants of 12 separate indigenous Tribal peoples,
including the last homeland of Chief Joseph, the famous Nez Perce leader.

The Colville Confederated Tribes have focused their governmental attention on the improvement of their
communications for well over a decade, actively participating in both federal and state regulatory
proceedings, addressing issues to local and national carriers, applying for federal programs that address
critical infrastructure needs, and dedicating Tribal leaders and resources to working with the Commission
on multiple formal advisory committees, including the Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC), the
Intergovernmental Advisory Committee (IAC), and the FCC-Native Nations Broadband Task Force.
Former Colville Business Council Vice-Chairman John Stensgar (CAC), former Council Member Cherie
Moomaw (IAC), and former Council Member Susie Allen (FCC-Native Nations Broadband Task Force)
have all spent time working with the Commission in hands-on policy development work.

The Colville Confederated Tribes also has an IT Department that has actively worked to address the lack
of telephone and Internet access throughout the Reservation. They have confronted many regulatory,
economic, and geographic obstacles, and now operate some of the Tribal Nation’s own infrastructure to
serve previously completely disconnected communities. The topographical features of the Reservation,
coupled with the fact that residential communities are widespread within the Reservation’s borders,
presents great challenges. Large areas of the Colville Reservation completely lack mobile phone
coverage, and several of those areas are also residential areas populated by Tribal members. Laying fiber
is extremely difficult and expensive in some of the remote portions of the Reservation, as is the placement
of mobile wireless communications towers in mountainous, heavily forested terrain miles from the nearest
power source.

76 The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Demographics,"> (last visited Mar. 19, 2013).

Residents of the Reservation routinely drive to places, exact locations actually, within the Reservation
where wireless signals are available. While the signals in these locations are not robust, at least residents
can actually make a wireless telephone call. The impact of this situation during an emergency, when
mere minutes can mean the difference between life and death, is frightening to imagine. It is a reality for
the residents of the Colville Reservation. In the event of a breakdown or an automobile accident, they
also assume great personal risk traveling in areas of the Reservation where help is not available due to a
lack of wireless services. Overall, when help is not “just a call away,” the impact on public safety is

Perhaps the most detrimental impact of the spotty nature of connectivity to wireless phone networks and
terrestrial broadband networks on the Colville Reservation is the significantly negative effect on the
Tribal Nation’s and Tribal members’ ability to generate economic progress, leverage off-Reservation
resources in education and health care, and effectively manage growing Tribal government operations.

ONAP Consultation and On-The-Ground Findings Confirm Issues

The challenges faced by the Confederated Coville Tribes have been a focus of the Commission for nearly
a decade, and Commission staff have made multiple visits to the Colville Reservation, undertaking
specific outreach and training efforts there. The Commission’s first visit to Colville was in 2003 to meet
the Tribal government. In 2004, the Commission’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (pre-ONAP)
hosted an ITI Regional “Train the Trainer” session at the Nespelem Tribal Longhouse, the traditional
meeting place for the community of the Nespelem District of the Tribal government. In 2004, the
Nespelem Tribal Longhouse had, literally, the last telephone for many dozens of miles into the interior of
the Reservation. At that time, the entire Reservation community of Disautel, approximately 30 miles
northwest of Nespelem, was completely without telephone service. The Tribe eventually addressed that
situation themselves.

Commission staff conducted a “Train the Trainer” Session as part of the Commission’s Indian Telecommunications Initiatives (ITI) program

in 2004 at the Nespelem Tribal Longhouse, located in the interior of the Colville Reservation in eastern Washington state. The day involved
attendees from as far as Seattle and Spokane, and began by hauling wood and making sandwiches.


With the creation of ONAP, on two separate visits, one in 2011
and one in 2012, the Commission resumed efforts to work on

the ground in consultation with the Colville Tribal government.
Mobile phone service within the
In 2011, ONAP met with the Colville Business Council and saw
boundaries of the Colville
portions of the Reservation few federal officials have ever seen,
Reservation is spotty, with
including the top of Omak Mountain – where, at the end of
significant dead zones in and
around residential areas.
rough mountain trails next to steep ravines, stood several tall
towers laden with communications equipment and assets that
During a 2012 visit, ONAP staff
serve primarily off-Reservation consumers. In 2012, the
met Matt Haney of the Colville
Colville Confederated Tribes hosted extensive and detailed
meetings with Tribal leaders and members of Tribal government
Officer Haney provided a real-
departments, including management and planning, IT and
world example of how the lack of
mobile phone service impacts
telecom, economic development, public safety, and fish and
public safety.
wildlife. ONAP has thus developed a far greater understanding
of the challenges associated with communications deployment
A patrol officer had found some
on the Colville Reservation.
unexploded ordinance within the

Reservation. He needed to call
the situation into his dispatch

desk for additional support to,
among other things, cordon off
the area to keep people safely
away and control traffic flow.
However, because so many Tribal
members have police scanners in
their homes for social and

recreational use, using the police
radio to transmit information
about the unexploded ordinance
would have actually brought in
more curious people who heard

about it on their scanners rather
than keep people away.

ONAP traveled to the top of 5,747-foot Omak Mountain, located on the Colville

“We really needed to be able to

Reservation in eastern Washington state, to see towers and communications

use a cell phone in that instance
infrastructure and equipment that serve primarily off-Reservation consumers.
to call headquarters,” Officer

Haney said.
During its 2012 visit, ONAP managers and staff were led by
members of the Tribal government managerial staff on a tour of

areas of the Reservation of particular need or priority to the
Colville Tribal government. We walked along a route where a
carrier had reported broadband service via fiber on the National
Broadband Map, yet saw none. This situation impacts the
Tribe’s – or any other carrier’s – ability to apply for telecommunications build-out and deployment grant
programs, as unserved portions of the Reservation were being incorrectly shown as having access to
broadband. Conversely, we were then shown a significant presence of dark fiber that was serving no

Tribal residents and providing no broadband service. The fiber was actually placed in the bottom of a
ditch and extended several miles, unconnected at either end to any service. Moreover, some of the dark
fiber reported by the incumbent local exchange carrier as being deployed was not buried and lay in pieces
on the side of the road.

Dark fiber lies unconnected on the side of

ONAP met with the entire Colville Business Council at the Confederated Colville

the road within the borders of the Colville

Tribes Headquarters to discuss communications infrastructure needs and

Reservation. For Tribal members, the long

stretch of dark fiber running within a
roadside ditch – displayed on maps as
actively supporting deployed

telecommunication services – was a great
source of frustration.

Tribal Council Members and Tribal staff managers noted a lack of productive basic communication
between the incumbent carrier and the Tribe, resulting in basic misunderstandings over simple things
which formal meeting and routine coordination could have fixed. Tribal officials noted certain
objectionable actions by incumbent carriers, including entering onto Tribal property without notice and
without permission to place carrier signage on sheds, fences, and buildings—pursuant to Tribal permitting
requirements. Similarly, ONAP heard reports of the carrier trenching along a roadside without
notification to the Tribe.

Tribal Engagement – Future Promise of Better Results for the Colville Reservation

ONAP’s 2012 meeting with Colville Tribal government officials included a detailed review of how the
Tribe felt about the quality of service provided by carriers serving the Reservation. This discussion then
dovetailed into a detailed and productive training session on the new Tribal government engagement
requirement provisions of the Connect America Fund regulations. Part of ONAP’s responsibility is to
work with Tribal governments and carriers to help both parties be better prepared to identify and address
specific issues with data, problem descriptions, success metrics, and delineated potential and practicable

To further help prepare the Colville Business Council for meeting with carriers, ONAP staff discussed
strategies that the Tribal Nation might consider, in an effort to make engagement meetings with carriers

productive and address ongoing deployment concerns. For example, ONAP staff recommended that the
Tribe prepare for its Tribal engagement meetings based on a multi-faceted approach rooted in areas of
concern articulated by the Tribal Nation. For the Colville Reservation, these issues include public safety,
as well as Tribal notification requirements and processes associated with trenching, erecting, and placing
signage on equipment on Tribal lands. These issues also include a joint Tribe and carrier understanding
of Reservation areas that are lacking in service, discussions about accurate reporting of services provided,
and future deployment planning to presently fill gaps – to eventually but deliberately bring advanced
wireless services to all parts of the Reservation.

While only an element of pessimism lingered, explained as a result of multiple past failed attempts to
engage carriers, several members of the Colville Business Council and management staff were optimistic
that the new opportunities to work together in the upcoming first round of Tribal government and carrier
engagement meetings would be productive, collaborative, and solution-oriented. They conveyed their
hope and anticipation that these carrier and Tribal engagement sessions would provide the formal
structure and framework for Tribal Nations and carriers to work together and avoid misunderstandings on
day-to-day issues, providing a foundation for future shared vision and solutions.

Ongoing Training and Consultation on this Issue with Tribes

The Tribal government engagement obligation is one of ONAP’s top Tribal consultation priorities for
2013. Continuing to coordinate with the multiple communications companies that serve Tribal lands also
continues to be a top priority for ONAP. Because the Tribal engagement requirement is a relatively new
regulatory requirement, ONAP will coordinate with Tribal governments and carriers nationwide who
serve Tribal lands, in individual and shared settings, to get a sense of their experiences during this first
year. ONAP will then compile specific recommendations to make future Tribal-carrier engagement
meetings more productive, facilitate more meaningful engagement meetings between Tribal governments
and ETCs, and begin to develop the best practices that ONAP must produce under Commission order.77
All of this will be accomplished both through individual consultations with Tribal governments and
meetings with carriers, and in the context of regional trainings and Reservation visits.

ONAP’s consultation mission, on behalf of the Commission, is one that Tribal governmental officials
across the country have genuinely and enthusiastically supported. Support for the Commission’s
consultation process thus far has taken the form of official resolutions from the National Congress of
American Indians, Tribal leader feedback received while engaging in our mission on Tribal lands, and
comments by Senators and members of Congress during multiple hearings at ONAP-presented testimony
before the Senate Commerce and Indian Affairs Committees and the House Subcommittee on American
Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Most recently, on December 5th, at the White House Tribal Nations
Summit, during a listening session that included seven separate agencies, the most senior Tribal leaders
from Tribal Nations in New York, California, Washington, Arizona, and Oklahoma stood and expressed
their appreciation for the Commission’s commitment to coordinate with Indian Country through the
successful ongoing approach of ONAP’s work. The future of the Commission’s Tribal consultation and
coordination policy will build on its initial success, leveraging what worked well in 2012 and before by

77 See USF/ICC Transformation Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 17868, para. 637, n.1054; see also Further Guidance Public
Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 8178-79, para. 8.

continuing the forward momentum and, among other efforts, increasing the amount of legal and technical
support and training provided to Tribal governments. Much progress has been made, but much more
progress remains ahead of us.

Radio Broadcasting and the Tribal Priority

The Promise of the Tribal Priority

The Commission has a longstanding commitment to promoting Tribal self-sufficiency and economic
development, as well as providing access to communications services to Tribes.78 This is especially true
in the context of broadcast radio. In 2009, the Commission recognized that, despite the existence of a
number of Tribally-owned radio stations, the traditional allocation priorities had not fulfilled the Section
307(b) mandate to “make such distribution of licenses … among the several States and communities as to
provide a fair, efficient, and equitable distribution of radio service”79 with respect to Tribal lands.80 In a
series of orders predicated on the federal trust relationship and promoting Tribal sovereignty, the
Commission amended its rules to enhance the ability of federally-recognized Native American Tribes and
Alaska Native Villages “to receive radio service tailored to their specific needs and cultures” and “to
increase ownership of such radio stations by Tribes and Tribally-owned entities.”81 These orders were the
result of consultation with and comments from Tribes. The Commission created the Tribal Priority to
enhance and promote the economic and cultural values of Tribes.82 The most recent application of the
Tribal Priority empowers Tribes to more readily obtain full power commercial radio licenses.

78 See supra The Commission’s Tribal Agenda before the Office of Native Affairs and Policy, pp. 8-13; see also
Tribal Policy Statement, 16 FCC Rcd at 4078-82.
79 47 U.S.C. § 307(b).
80 Rural Radio First Report and Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1584, 1587-8, paras. 1, 8.
81 Rural Radio Third Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 17642-4, paras. 1-3.
82 Id. at 17642-3, para. 1.

The Hualapai Tribe and Its Goal of Having a Radio Station

The Hualapai Indian Reservation, home to the Hualapai Tribe, is in northwest Arizona, encompassing
nearly one million acres along 100 miles of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. The Reservation
is shaped like the letter U and sits on the southern side of the Grand Canyon, stretching to the Grand
Canyon’s western corridor and Lake Mead. The topography varies greatly, from dry grasslands to cedar
and pine forests to the Grand Canyon. Elevations range from 1,500 feet at the Colorado River to over
7,300 feet at the highest point on the Reservation.83 The Tribal Nation’s headquarters is located in the
Reservation’s largest town, Peach Springs. More than 1,600 people reside on the Hualapai Reservation,84
with nearly 1,300 in Peach Springs. Outside of Peach Springs, therefore, the Reservation is sparsely
The Hualapai Tribe is governed by a Tribal Council, consisting of a Chairperson, a Vice Chairperson, and
seven other Council members. Currently, the Hualapai Tribe faces severe economic circumstances.
Unemployment hovers around 50 percent and the principal economic activity is tourism.86 To combat
this endemic poverty, in 2007, the Hualapai Tribe opened the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a major tourist
attraction in western Arizona. Currently, there is no broadcast radio service across much of the
Reservation, including on isolated roads. This poses a significant public safety risk.
On October 11, 2012, in an effort to increase the level of communications services on the Reservation, the
Hualapai Tribe filed the first petition for rulemaking from a Tribal Nation itself using the Tribal Priority.87
The Hualapai Tribe petitioned the Commission to amend the FM Table of Allotments to add a new
channel, the first Tribally-owned commercial facility, based in Peach Springs.88 In its petition, the Tribe
showed that the proposed primary contour would cover a total area of 816 square kilometers, with nearly
85 percent of that coverage on Tribal land.89 A radio station on the Hualapai Reservation would provide
both an economic boost to an impoverished area and allow the Tribe to follow in the path of providing
uniquely-tailored cultural programming to Tribal members. This valuable resource, which would be the
first Tribally-owned service on the Reservation, would help preserve Native language, cultural values,
and community for the Hualapai Tribe. On December 21, 2012, the Audio Division issued a Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking to amend the FC Table of Allotments, seeking comment on the Hualapai Tribe’s
petition to use the Tribal Priority for the proposed allotment.90 On March 1, 2013, the Audio Division
granted Hualapai’s petition for rulemaking and allotted FM Channel 265A at Peach Springs, Arizona, as a
Tribal Allotment, one of the first two full power commercial FM allotments under the Tribal Priority.91

83 Hualapai Tribe, About Hualapai,"> (last visited Mar. 19, 2013).
84 Id.
85 Petition for Rulemaking to Amend Section 73.202(b), Table of Allotments, FM Broadcast Stations, MB Docket
No. 12-374, RM-11687 (filed Oct. 11, 2012) (Hualapai Petition).
86 Julie Cart, Tribe's Canyon Skywalk Opens One Deep Divide, L.A. TIMES, Feb. 11, 2007, available at,0,6435928.story">,0,6435928.story (last visited Mar. 19, 2013).
87 Hualapai Petition at 3.
88 Id.
89 Id.
90 Peach Springs, Arizona, MB Docket No. 12-374, RM-11687, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd
15954 (Media Bur. 2012).
91 Peach Springs, Arizona, MB Docket No. 12-374, RM-11687, Report and Order (Media Bur. rel. Mar. 1, 2013).
Simultaneous to the release of this order, the Audio Division added FM Channel 297A at Crownpoint, New Mexico,

The Hualapai Tribe already has a media presence with its
own online radio station, EPHC, and the Tribal Council

initially considered a low power FM station several years
The Hualapai Indian Tribe is the
ago, but determined that the coverage of such a station
first Tribal Nation to seek the
would be inadequate for the community.92 While learning
Tribal Priority, and the second
about the new rules, the Tribe considered the new Tribal
applicant after the Navajo
Priority for full power commercial licenses as an
Technical College, an entity of
opportunity to procure a valuable economic asset that could
the Navajo Nation. In October
also be used to promote cultural values and language.
2012, ONAP began consultations
to discuss the operation and

The Hualapai Tribe quickly recognized that, with these new
potential of the Tribal Priority
rules, the Commission had acted to protect the Tribe’s assets
with the Hualapai Tribe’s “radio
and the economic value of the Tribal Priority in a
task force,” which consists of the
commercial FM context by adopting the threshold
Vice Chairman of the Tribe, a
qualification window process.93 The Tribal Priority
Tribal Council member, the
effectively empowers Tribes to obtain full power
manager of the Tribe’s online
commercial radio licenses without having to purchase the
radio station, and their engineer.
license in a costly competitive auction, a process which
The request for consultation was
could not ensure their ability to broadcast to their own
initiated by a Hualapai Tribal
Tribal Nation’s communities.
Council Representative at the
69th Annual Conference of the

After petitioning the Commission for rulemaking, the
National Congress of American
Hualapai Tribe initiated a request for consultation on the
Indians in Sacramento. This
procedures and operation of the Tribal Priority rules. ONAP
type of government-to-
and the Audio Division of the Media Bureau were directed
government consultation is one
by the Commission in its Report and Order creating the
of the fundamental aspects of
threshold qualifications window process to coordinate with
ONAP’s mission meets the
Tribes to ensure that any questions involving the Tribal
Commission’s mandate in the
Priority’s threshold qualification and licensing processes are
Tribal Priority rules. It
answered.94 In response to the Tribal governmental request,
represents an important aspect
ONAP staff met with the Tribe’s “radio task force” to
of ONAP’s consultation and
discuss the communications needs and priorities of the
coordination field work with
Tribal Nations.

Tribal Nation with regards to their petition. ONAP and the
Audio Division subsequently coordinated closely on the
petition, meeting the Commission’s expectations for Tribal
consultation. During these discussions, the Tribal leaders
discussed the importance of Hualapai voices speaking the
Hualapai language on air, the economic value to the Tribe of

as a Tribal Allotment in response to a petition for rulemaking filed by Navajo Technical College. Crownpoint, New
Mexico, MB Docket 12-261, RM-11677, Report and Order (Media Bur. rel. Mar. 1, 2013).
92 See EPCH Radio – Hualapai Tribal Radio">, (last visited Mar. 19, 2013).
93 Rural Radio Third Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 17643-44, para. 3.
94 Rural Radio Third Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 17650-1, para. 16.

a full power commercial FM station, the public safety aspects in times of emergency on the Reservation,
and their desire as a government for a license area to cover the planned community and economic venture
growth of the Hualapai Tribe.

The Voice of Tribal Radio and the Potential for Growth

As the number of Tribal voices on radio has increased, the value of Tribal radio broadcasters to empower
Tribal Nations and Tribal peoples and to promote Tribal sovereignty becomes more and more apparent.
Today, there are Tribal Nation and Native community radio stations throughout the United States. Native
Public Media, the association of Tribal Nation and Native community radio stations, lists 55 stations in
their database, ten of which are streaming their services online.95 Since its creation, ONAP has made it a
priority to visit several of these stations, including KOTZ - 89.9 FM or 720 AM of Kotzebue, Alaska;
KIDE - 91.3 FM of the Hoopa Valley Indian Tribe, in northern California; KOPA - 91.3 FM of the Pala
Indian Tribe in southern California; KWSO - 91.9 FM of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
Reservation, in Oregon; KCUW-LP - 104.3 FM of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla reservation,
in Oregon; KWIS - 88.3 FM of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, in Idaho; KUYI - 88.1 FM of the Hopi Tribe, in
Arizona; and WOJB - 88.9 FM of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Anishinaabe, in
The role of Tribal radio is unique to Indian country. As the Commission formally recognized over a
decade ago, Tribal governments have the right to set their own communications priorities and goals for
their citizens and communities. Each station addresses the unique needs of the Tribal Nation or entity that
owns it, from broadcasting emergency messages in areas with poor phone service, to preserving and
promoting Native languages and culture, to promoting economic self-determination. Foundational to the
purpose of many Tribal broadcasters is filling their rightful place in the media landscape, where the
popular dominant culture perceptions of the indigenous nations and peoples of this country have often
been formed by Hollywood movies, old west television shows, and college mascots that wholly
inaccurately portray Native Americans. Telling one’s own story, broadcasting in one’s own voice, in an
exercise of self-determination and self-reliance, is so important a goal of so many broadcasters in Tribal
communities that its value cannot be overstated.
In spite of the increasing number of Tribal radio stations, however, their ranks are still very low relative to
the number of Tribal Nations and communities of Native populations. That is, despite comprising 1.5
percent of the country’s population, less than one-third of one percent of radio licenses are Tribal Nation
and Native community owned stations.96 Tribal Nations across the country and national inter-Tribal
government and industry organizations, such as the National Congress of American Indians and Native
Public Media, have articulated the need for many more Tribal voices in broadcast radio. The
Commission’s partners in Indian Country helped it create these rules, and stand ready to help ONAP and
the Commission assist and inform Tribal Nations.

95 Native Public Media, Native Radio Stations,"> (last visited Mar. 19,
96 Native Public Media and the National Congress of American Indians, Reply to Comments, MB Docket No. 09-52,
RM-11528, Aug. 11, 2009.

ONAP visits to Native radio stations

often include on-air interviews, which
occurred during this visit to KNBA
90.3 FM in Anchorage, AK. KNBA is
operated by the Koahnic Broadcast

Corporation, a non-profit, Alaska

Native governed and operated media


The Hualapai Tribe’s application for the Tribal Priority is their groundbreaking first step into the world of
radio broadcasting. Every week, Tribal government and development representatives contact ONAP and
the Audio Division to learn more about their opportunities under the Commission’s Tribal priority radio
broadcast rules. ONAP and the Audio Division, on behalf of the Commission, have much more good
work to do in making Tribal Nations aware of, and assisting them with, this new opportunity.
In these efforts, ONAP and the Audio Division enjoy an excellent and mutually beneficial working
relationship, illustrative of the potential across all the Bureaus and Offices. Audio Division managers and
staff participated in five training and consultation events hosted by ONAP in 2012, contributing expert
presentations on panels and meaningful guidance in side or “add-on” meetings with individual or groups
of Tribal Nations. Both offices are dedicated to seeing the successful operation of these rules, and their
responsibilities to Tribal Nations as federal offices, come to fruition in the deployment of services on
Tribal lands. The Audio Division even prepared diagrams and information pieces, in coordination with
ONAP, that assist immeasurably in building awareness and understanding of the Tribal Priority in radio

Eligible Telecommunications Carriers

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

The present day homeland of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is the Standing Rock Reservation, which
encompasses approximately 2.3 million acres on the borders of North Dakota and South Dakota. The
eastern border of the Reservation is the Missouri River, the historically sacred river of so many
indigenous peoples of the Great Plains. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s experience in the
communications field is a proud one, exhibiting their dogged determination – Tribal self-determination –
and their self-reliance in the face of extreme challenges. Standing Rock experiences an unemployment

rate of 79 percent,97 an average annual income of $10,000, and a high school graduation rate of 60 percent
or less.98 With a population of just over 6,000 residents, the Reservation averages 0.4 persons per square
mile. Agriculture is the primary Reservation industry; however, this sparsely populated Reservation
experiences temperatures in the winter from 30 below zero to 17 above zero with routine severe blizzard
conditions, and temperatures in the summer from 60 to 110 degrees, with occasional drought.99
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe operates under its Tribal constitution of April 24, 1959. The Tribal
Nation is governed by a Tribal Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, and 14 Council Members. Certain
Tribal Council Members occupy at-large positions and are elected by the entire Tribe, while other Council
Members represent the eight Districts of the Tribe and are elected from their Districts.100

For nearly 20 years, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has endeavored to solve its communications
problems. This involved multiple unsuccessful attempts to attract deployment and coordinate with local
incumbents, both wireline and wireless, and even involved the failed sale of exchanges on the Standing

97 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Community Environmental Profile,">
(last visited Mar. 19, 2013).
98 Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal Service Support; Standing Rock Telecommunications, Inc.
Petition for Designation as an Eligible Carrier; Petition of Standing Rock Telecommunications, Inc. to Redefine
Rural Service Areas; Petition for Reconsideration of Standing Rock Telecommunications, Inc.’s Designation as an
Eligible Telecommunications Carrier on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation; WC Docket No. 09-197,
Memorandum Opinion and Order on Reconsideration, 26 FCC Rcd 9160, n. 36 (2011) (Standing Rock Order Part
99 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Community Environmental Profile,">
(last visited Mar. 19, 2013).
100 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Community Environmental Profile,">
(last visited Mar. 19, 2013).

Rock Reservation to an ETC owned by a neighboring Tribal
Nation – the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone

Authority, the oldest Tribally owned wireline ETC. A
Today, there are ten Tribally-
refocused Tribal Council began to look at the possibility of
owned ETCs:
wireless services from carriers who held licenses on the
Reservation, but had not yet built out. In these many
- Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
endeavors, the challenges of cost, jurisdiction, geo-political
Telephone Authority
factors, and lack of attention conspired against the Tribal
- Fort Mojave
Nation’s planning. Over the course of these experiences, the
Telecommunications, Inc.
focus of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe narrowed again and
become even more resolute.
- Gila River Telecommunications,

In an effort to address the appalling state of communications
- Hopi Telecommunications, Inc.
services on the Reservation, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
created Standing Rock Telecommunications, Inc., (Standing
- Mescalero Apache
Rock Telecom), a Tribal Nation-owned and operated
Telecommunications, Inc.
commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) provider, to provide
- Saddleback Communications
mobile voice and data services within the entire Reservation.
(owned and operated by the Salt
Standing Rock Telecom gained access to spectrum through a
River Pima Maricopa Indian
secondary market agreement negotiated with a major wireless
carrier, and sought ETC designation from the Commission.
- San Carlos Apache
In a two-part decision, the Commission designated Standing
Telecommunications and
Rock Telecom as an ETC throughout the Reservation, basing
Utilities, Inc.
its decision both on the historical trust relationship the
- Standing Rock
Commission shares with federally recognized Tribes and the
Telecommunications, Inc. (the
Commission’s commitment to promote the availability of
only Tribally-owned wireless
affordable communications services to underserved consumers,
many of whom reside today on Tribal lands.101 This decision
- Tohono O’odham Utility
was groundbreaking in at least two respects. First, it marked
the first time that the Commission designated a Tribally owned
ETC to serve entirely within the exterior boundaries of its
- Warm Springs
Reservation, recognizing the population of the Reservation as
Telecommunications Company
the Tribe’s community, including partial rural wire centers.102
Second, the Commission concluded that redefinition of the
underlying rural telephone company study areas was
unnecessary, and therefore no state commission consent was
necessary, because the Commission designated Standing Rock
Telecom throughout the entire rural service area within the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s

101 Standing Rock Order Part II, 26 FCC Rcd at 9160, para. 2; Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal
Service Support; Standing Rock Telecommunications, Inc. Petition for Designation as an Eligible
Telecommunications Carrier; Standing Rock Telecommunications, Inc.; Petition to Redefine Rural Service Areas;
WC Docket No. 09-197, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 25 FCC 12388 (Wireline Comp. Bur. 2010) (Standing
Rock Order Part I).
102 Standing Rock Order Part II, 26 FCC Rcd at 9165, para. 14.

Clockwise from the left:

ONAP Deputy Chief Irene Flannery and Miles

McAllister, General Manager, Standing Rock

Telecommunications, Inc.

ONAP Chief Geoffrey Blackwell, ONAP Deputy Chief

Irene Flannery, and the Honorable Charles Murphy,

Chairman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Standing Rock Telecommunications demonstrated

creativity in finding a high spot for its wireless hardware
on a relatively flat landscape. Antenna were placed on
the top of a water tower, a high point in Fort Yates,
headquarters of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Reservation – the full extent of the Commission’s jurisdiction.103
Standing Rock Telecom, as the first Tribally owned wireless ETC, thus became eligible for much-needed
universal service support, including high-cost and low-income support, to continue the process of
extending service throughout the Reservation.104 In September 2011, Standing Rock Telecom
participated in the Commission’s first reverse auction, held as part of Phase I of the Mobility Fund. In
October 2012, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announced that Standing Rock Telecom was one
of the auction’s successful bidders, resulting in $3.3 million in total assigned support and coverage for up
to 1,290 road miles on the Standing Rock Reservation.
At the invitation of the Tribal Council, the Commission first visited the Standing Rock Reservation in
2004, represented by managers and senior staff of CGB and the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
These Commission officials even held a call-in show on the Tribal radio station located on Standing
Rock, KLND - 89.5 FM, which serves both the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Reservations and
surrounding areas. Very quickly the Commission learned firsthand how dedicated the Tribe and its people
were to improving their telephone and broadband situation. It is noteworthy that the radio station's name
in the Lakota language is Wolakota Wiconi Waste, meaning "through unity a good life." During the

103 Id. at 9166-7, para. 19.
104 USF/ICC Transformation Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 17836, paras. 530-31.

course of their work with the Commission to address their
communications challenges and creating Standing Rock

Telecom, improving the quality of life on the Standing Rock
ONAP visited the Standing Rock
Reservation has been a foundational goal and a constant
Reservation in 2011, not long
message of the Tribal Nation. Chairmen, Council Members,
after Standing Rock Telecom’ s
and senior management officials of the Standing Rock Sioux
groundbreaking ETC
Tribe have met with FCC Chairmen, Commissioners, Bureau
designation. ONAP staff met
Chiefs, and staff in multiple Bureaus. The work between the
with Chairman Murphy of the
Commission and Standing Rock has epitomized the many
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the
valuable opportunities found in the unique nation-to-nation
management of Standing Rock
relationship that the Commission and Tribal Nations share.
Telecom, and other Tribal
government officials.

The Importance of the Opportunity for Tribal Nation Self-

Having the opportunity to


experience first-hand the
extremely remote nature of the

Standing Rock illustrates quite dramatically a number of
Reservation and the
important Tribal Nation policy initiatives at the Commission.
telecommunications challenges
First and foremost, Standing Rock personifies the importance
faced by both the Tribe and its
of affording opportunities for Tribal Nations to self-provision
newly-designated ETC proved
communications services. Facing a virtual lack of
invaluable back in Washington,
communications services on its lands, the Standing Rock
DC, as ONAP coordinated across
Tribal government made the decision to establish its own
the Commission on universal
mobile service provider and, in the process, broke ground for
service reform and its impact on
other Tribally owned companies.
Tribal lands. Nothing
substitutes for face-to face

While not every Tribal government will decide that self-
contact and consultation in
provisioning is the chosen approach, Standing Rock illustrates
federal-Tribal government-to-
what can be accomplished when that path is chosen.
government affairs –
particularly in situations in

In the context of universal service reform, Standing Rock’s
which the conditions are dire.
experience informed the Commission’s decision to adopt

certain provisions designed to facilitate self-provisioning and
ETC designation. Only ETCs are eligible to participate in the
Mobility Fund and Tribal Mobility Fund.105 For Tribally-
owned applicants only, however, the Commission adopted
rules allowing those applicants to participate in the auctions as long as their ETC applications were
submitted by the time the short form auction applications were due.106 This provision affords Tribal
governments the opportunity to seek ETC designation and to participate in the auctions at the same time.
Standing Rock, and the nine other Tribally owned ETCs, paved the way for this opportunity.
This is not to say that the path to becoming an ETC, as well as a viable and successful business, is an easy
one. Particularly on the remote and sparsely populated Standing Rock Reservation, the challenges are
many. One critical issue is funding. As a successful bidder in Auction 901, Standing Rock will have the

105 Id. at 17797, para. 386.
106 Id. at 17823, para. 491.

opportunity to use Mobility Fund support to expand the critical services it is providing on the Reservation
– the very essence of universal service.

Access to Spectrum for Tribal Nations

Another issue of critical importance to Standing Rock and future Tribally owned wireless ETCs is access
to spectrum. In an effort to address the limited availability of wireless services on Tribal lands, the
Commission launched the Spectrum Over Tribal Lands NPRM in 2011, seeking comment, among other
things, on proposals to create new opportunities for Tribes to gain access to spectrum. The Commission
sought comment on those proposals, including expansion of the Tribal priority, secondary market
processes, and a build-or-divest process, with the objective of promoting greater use of spectrum over
Tribal lands. Tribal governments and their associations are in agreement that greater access to the
spectrum over their lands for Tribal Nations is a linchpin to bringing Tribes and the wireless industry
together to develop sustainable commercial wireless networks on Tribal lands. Tribal Nations and their
inter-Tribal government associations offer continued support for consultation sessions and industry
meetings to develop a record in support of these proposals.107 The Spectrum Over Tribal Lands NPRM
continues to be a major consultation priority for ONAP in 2013, so that other Tribally owned companies
can follow in Standing Rock’s footsteps, and more meaningful deployments can flourish between the
wireless industry and Indian Country.

The Critical Nature of Lifeline and Link Up on Tribal Lands

The continued viability of the Tribal Lands Lifeline program, as well as the preservation of the Tribal
Lands Link Up program, is also of critical importance to ETCs serving Tribal lands and has become
integral to the business models and deployment plans of many of these companies, perhaps best
exemplified by Tribally owned and operated ETCs like Standing Rock Telecom.108 For many Tribal
ETCs – Standing Rock Telecom in particular – even the names of the Lifeline and Link Up programs
resonate more soundly, given the very high levels of unemployment they face, the very high percentage of
families with incomes well under the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and the remote nature of the
Reservations. The mobile service that Standing Rock provides at a discount to its low-income consumers
literally provides a lifeline in the form of access in the event of an emergency, as well as a link or conduit
for education, health care, economic or job opportunity, and basic communication.
ONAP is the face of the Commission in Indian Country, and in few places is that more apparent than
Standing Rock. Since its creation in 2010, ONAP has forged a strong government-to-government
relationship with the Standing Rock Tribal government and its Tribally owned ETC, Standing Rock
Telecom. The building of this relationship was strengthened by personal contact when members of the
ONAP staff visited the Standing Rock Reservation in 2011, and further solidified by frequent
communication. It is critically important that ONAP have the opportunity to continue building on that
relationship, which is accomplished most powerfully with face-to-face contact.

107 See President Keel Ex Parte Letter.
108 Lifeline Modernization Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6767, para. 254. The Commission eliminated Link Up everywhere
except on Tribal lands. Only ETCs receiving High-Cost support may also receive Link Up on Tribal lands.

A New Approach to Training in 2012

ONAP’s “Tribal Broadband and Telecom 101” Events

ONAP’s 2012 Broadband and

In 2012, ONAP initiated a new Tribal training and

Telecom 101 Training

consultation program, developed to be more responsive to


the needs and requests of Indian Country. The decision to

May 9-11: Washington State

move toward a more targeted regional approach with
on the Swinomish Indian Tribal
smaller but more engaged and vested audiences was
Community’s Reservation, held
intended to create a far more interactive approach than in
in coordination with the
the past, as well as to provide opportunities for meetings
Affiliated Tribes of Northwest
with individual Tribes. It is with these goals in mind that
Tribal Broadband and Telecom 101events were conceived,

May 23-24: Southern

in coordination with Tribal leaders nationwide. The name


on the Pala Indian

itself, with the “101” designation, so common a concept
Reservation, held in
reflecting a course of study and intellectual discourse, was
coordination with the Southern
itself a suggestions of the members of the FCC-Native
California Tribal Chairmen’s
Nations Broadband Task Force. Indeed, in many events,
Tribal leader Task Force members played key roles in
planning and hosting their respective training and

July 27: Anchorage, AK,

by ONAP at the invitation of U.S.

consultation events.
Senator Mark Begich, who
ONAP conducted six Tribal Broadband and Telecom
participated in a panel and
Training 101 programs from May through September 2012
provided a keynote address
in venues across the country.

July 31: Fairbanks, AK,

held in
coordination with the Tanana

ONAP’s training is aimed primarily at Tribal leaders,
Chiefs Conference at their
representatives, managers, and planners interested either in
longhouse meeting room facility
providing broadband and other communications services
themselves, partnering with other entities (including

September 12-13: Wisconsin

carriers), or working with existing carriers. ONAP’s
on the Reservation of the Lac du
Flambeau Band of Lake Superior

training also aims to meaningfully involve the carriers or
Chippewa Indians, and held in
providers that serve Tribal lands, in an effort to provide the
coordination with the Great
platform for their engagement with Tribal Nations and the
Lakes Inter-Tribal Council
Commission alike. A principal goal of the Tribal
Broadband and Telecom 101 events included informing

September 18-19: Oklahoma,

Tribes about Commission policy initiatives affecting Tribal
held for Oklahoma and Southern
lands and soliciting Tribal input into Commission dockets.
Plains Tribes at the Gaylord
Expert staff from across the Commission participated in
School of Communications and
Journalism on the campus of the

conducting the training workshops. Training sessions also
University of Oklahoma
included specific set-aside time and space to engage and
consult individually with Tribal Nation representatives

about general or specific issues and challenges they face.
ONAP worked carefully and deliberately, in detailed and
highly cost-sensitive budget and program planning, to select

training consultation venues that also responded to high levels of interest expressed by Tribal Nations or
inter-Tribal government organizations, and to reach Tribal Nations in regions of the country not
previously visited by the Commission. While training programs were regionally focused and the specific
interests of Tribes in regions where trainings were held were emphasized, certain elements of the agendas
were similar and Tribal leaders and representatives from all parts of Indian Country were welcome and
invited to attend any of the training sessions. For example, while on the Pala Indian Reservation in
California, Tribal representatives came from as far away as Alaska and Wisconsin. In Wisconsin,
attendees came from South Dakota and, in Oklahoma, Tribal representatives from as far away as Florida
and Maine attended.

ONAP’s Tribal Broadband and

Telecommunications 101 Workshop in

Anchorage, AK, included a keynote

address by U.S. Senator Mark Begich
(left) who also participated in a panel.

Senator Begich is joined by ONAP

Chief Geoffrey Blackwell and Deputy

Chief Irene Flannery.

The Anchorage, AK workshop was

well-received by over 30 audience
members from the area.

ONAP’s design of the training format was and is intentionally flexible. On multiple occasions in 2012,
agendas were adjusted to address more fully issues of particular interest to a region or a set of attendees.
ONAP coordinated with Tribal leaders smoothly and in real time to accommodate training and
consultation needs. At the training on the Pala Indian Reservation in California, for example, an
afternoon presentation session was shortened when a majority of the participants expressed interest in
actually visiting in person the nearby network facilities of the Tribal Digital Village. As discussed more
fully above, this program of the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association is bringing broadband
to 17 Reservations using a wireless network of point-to-point and point-to-multipoint links covering some
350 miles. Visiting the facility afforded participants an inside perspective on how the Tribal Digital

Village Network is providing broadband solutions for Tribes in the region and powerfully illustrated, in a
real world setting, many of the topics addressed in the training sessions. At the same training session, a
separate visit was made to KOPA - 91.3 FM Pala Rez Radio, the nearby radio station owned and operated
by the Pala Band of Mission Indians.
It is important to reiterate and further explain that centrally important to the success of these training
sessions was the partnership with, and participation by, Tribal leader members of the FCC-Native Nations
Broadband Task Force.

Matthew R. Rantanen, Director of

Technology for the Tribal Digital

Village and a member of the FCC-

Native Nations Broadband Task

Force, briefs ONAP about the extent

and design of the Tribal Digital Village

Task Force members were instrumental in planning the regional programs, arranging for venues,
participating in panel sessions, identifying Tribal speakers, handling registrations, and providing support
staff. Without the invaluable guidance and assistance of the Task Force members, the workshops would
not have been nearly as successful as they were. In certain venues, such as the Swinomish Reservation in
Washington State, and in Oklahoma, Task Force members arranged additional meetings with other Tribal
leaders, to make introductions and discuss shared priorities in more detail. For any federal agency, this
type of welcoming involvement by insiders to Indian Country, and treatment as an insider, is a rare
occurrence and always beneficial to the federal agency’s work. In the case of ONAP and the
Commission, it is transformative to our policies and progress on Tribal government matters.

FCC-Native Nations Task Force Members were instrumental in conducting regional programs in 2012 and were invaluable partners. These

Task Force members, pictured above from left to right, and the events they supported are: Matthew R. Rantanen, Director of Technology,

Tribal Digital Village, Pala Band of Mission Indians, training conducted on the Pala Reservation in CA; Pearl Mikulski, Community

Services Vice President, Kawerak, Inc., ONAP meetings held in Nome, AK; James Williams, Chief Information Officer, Tanana Chiefs

Conference, ONAP meetings and training conducted in Ruby and Fairbanks, AK; Michael J. White, Director of Information Technology and

Records Management, Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, training conducted in Oklahoma; Honorable Jeffrey Harjo, Council Member, Seminole

Nation of Oklahoma, training conducted in Oklahoma; and (not pictured) Debby Gallenberg, IT Manager, Mole Lake Band of Lake Superior

Chippewa, Sokaogon Chippewa Community, training conducted on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in WI.

Training Sessions

Training agendas covered a vast array of topics presented and discussed at multiple levels of importance
and depth of detail. The most basic level included an overview of the Commission and ONAP, as well as
the Tribal policy agenda that the Commission initiated on Native Nations Day – March 3, 2011. Panels
also addressed these and derivative policy initiatives affecting Tribal lands, including universal service
and intercarrier compensation reform, the Mobility and Tribal Mobility Funds, Tribal Lands Lifeline and
Link Up, and new rules creating opportunities to set up Tribally-owned and operated radio stations.
Panels also addressed opportunities to comment on and meaningfully participate in Commission
proceedings, such the Spectrum over Tribal Lands NPRM, as well as nuts-and-bolts topics such as how a
Tribal entity can become an ETC. Experts from the Media Bureau, WCB, and WTB were important
partners and presenters in training session panels. While the formal agendas were similar in many ways,
the focus of each training was infused with regional concerns and issues. For example, radio broadcast
issues were of primary interest in Wisconsin, while ETC designation and universal service issues were of
most interest in Alaska and Oklahoma.
A favorite among Commission participants, Tribal attendees, and industry representatives was the Tribal
leaders’ panel, in which Tribal leaders, representatives, and IT or telecom managers candidly shared their
experiences with communications challenges they encountered and how they identified or developed
solutions to address them. This was useful not only for Tribal training attendees, but for all involved in
gaining a better understanding of Tribal communications issues and concerns. This type of "voices from
the trenches" experience will be invaluable in ONAP's plans for future training sessions and as it
formulates subsequent Tribal policy initiatives with Commission Bureaus and Offices.
For the first time ever in the history of the Commission's Tribal training work, ONAP built time into the
agendas, and budgeted for separate private meeting spaces, for one-on-one meetings with Tribal leaders to
address Tribal-specific issues or to clarify or expand on information presented in sessions. For instance,
in Wisconsin, individual meetings were held with leaders and representatives of six separate Tribal
Nations to discuss a wide range of issues, from general concerns about broadband and
telecommunications challenges and priorities, to obtaining ETC designation, protecting sacred sites and

Tribal cemeteries in the face of deployment involving trenching, increasing Lifeline subscribership, and
petitioning the Commission for an FM radio allotment.
There have been several important outcomes resulting from the Tribal Broadband and Telecom Training
101 training and consultation events held in 2012. For example, there is increased Tribal government
participation in Commission proceedings in the form of comments filed and individual consultations on
issues such as universal service reform, ETC designation, and access to spectrum over Tribal lands.
Training sessions on the radio Tribal Priority have resulted in several Tribal governments exploring with
ONAP and the Audio Division of the Media Bureau options for starting their own radio stations. Panels
on universal service reform and the Mobility and Tribal Mobility Funds have led to the submission of
ETC designation petitions from Tribal governments. Based on levels of contact and inquiries, many more
petitions are expected. And following the training sessions held in conjunction with the Affiliated Tribes
of Northwest Indians in Washington State, Tribal IT and telecom managers formed a new regional

Six IT directors and managers from Tribal Nations in WA, ID, and CA share information about challenges and solutions at ONAP’s

first Tribal Broadband and Telecom 101 Training session, held on the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in western Washington

Participating in the panel were (from left to right): Danae Wilson, Information Systems Director, Nez Perce Tribe; Valerie Fast

Horse, Information Technology Director, Coeur D’Alene Tribe; Howard W. Brown, Interim Director, Tulalip Data Services, Tulalip

Tribes; Eric Cutright, Information Tech

nology Director, Karuk Tribe; Randell J. Harris, Information Technology Manager, Quinault

Indian Nation; and Jim Ronyak, Information Technology Division Director, Colville Confederated Tribes. Moderating the panel was

ONAP Chief Geoffrey Blackwell


working group to share information on common challenges, work with ONAP and the Commission, and
learn from others’ experiences in developing proposals to provide communications services for their
Tribes. All of these outcomes were made possible by Tribal Broadband and Telecom 101 training
seminars that brought together Tribal leaders and Tribal representatives, industries that serve Tribal lands,
and the Commission, all of whom shared experiences and learned from one other.

Native Learning Lab

In 2012, ONAP introduced the Native Learning Lab, which uses an arrangement of special low-cost,
scaled down but still state of the art laptops, wireless routers, and printers, all set up in a separate meeting
room at training venues and used to acquaint participants with the Commission’s web-based resource
systems and applications. The Native Learning Lab provides interactive, computer-based online tutorials
to help participants understand the Commission’s auctions process, use Commission mapping tools,
identify spectrum licenses on Tribal lands, pinpoint areas that may be eligible for support under the new
Mobility and Tribal Mobility Funds, learn how to access information on U.S. Department of Agriculture
programs, and learn about how to interact with the Commission on regulatory proposals. Virtually any
relevant potential instruction or learning opportunity that can occur through the use of these technological
tools and the availability of the Internet occurs in the Native Learning Lab. It is the physical embodiment
of the goals and principles of the Commission's Tribal Policy Statement, envisioning the use of
technology and creative application of the Commission's intellectual resources in consulting with Tribal

The Media Bureau, Audio Division’s

Lisa Scanlan helps Tribal broadcasting

representatives of the Keweenaw Bay

Indian Community in the Native

Learning Lab during ONAP training

on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in


One-on-one and small group Native Learning Lab instruction was conducted with the invaluable and
ever-enthusiastic on-site support of personnel from the Office of Managing Director's Information
Technology Center. Training and instruction at the Learning Lab has resulted in the submission of
comments from new participants in Commission dockets and rulemakings. By demystifying Commission
processes and systems, and through a hands-on introduction to them, Tribal leaders and representatives

indicated that they could now approach the Commission with new confidence and enthusiasm. In these
intimate sessions, Commission staff made accessible and relevant the systems that previously intimidated,
and an important level of actual broadband adoption occurred among the communications "movers and
shakers" at their respective Tribal Nations. Equally important, Tribal leaders and managers have
developed working relationships with Commission staff in the Native Learning Lab and at training
sessions and are now comfortable contacting staff later when questions arise or when additional
information or guidance is needed. Commission instructors and assistants simply lost count of how many
"A-Ha!" moments occurred in the Native Learning Lab with their Tribal Nation counterparts.

Reservation Visits

Visits to other nearby or regional Reservations and Tribal government offices and institutions were often
conducted in conjunction with Tribal Broadband and Telecom 101training sessions. These visits enabled
ONAP to maximize the travel dollars expended and empowered Tribal leaders by allowing Commission
staff to meet with them on their lands and witness first-hand the impact of inadequate communications
infrastructure and services. In 2012, ONAP staff visited a number of Reservations and Tribal
communities in Oklahoma, Washington, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Arizona, Maine, Rhode Island,
California, Nebraska, and Native Villages in Alaska that the Commission had never before visited.
Meetings and consultations covered such topics as tower siting, obtaining a broadcast license, getting
ETC designation for a Tribally owned entity, working with carriers under the Tribal government
engagement obligation, helping Tribes evaluate the best approaches for the provision of communications
services to their Tribal lands, and myriad other topics and issues. Visits to Tribal radio stations, health
care facilities, schools, sacred traditional cultural properties, community centers, businesses, and other
Tribal community anchor institutions gave ONAP and other Commission representatives the information
necessary to recommend to the Commission solutions for specific, real world problems faced by Tribal
Nations. These insightful visits provided information and perspectives that can be only developed in the
field, and will help ONAP and the entire Commission develop the agenda for future policy initiatives and
better coordination among Bureaus and Offices. This meaningful, on-the-ground Tribal consultation will
also increase the quality of Tribal policy initiatives at the Commission, in terms of the ability of those
initiatives to have definable impact on the persistent digital divide on Tribal lands. Maintaining an actual
presence in Indian Country, and working directly with Tribal governments, measurably helps the
Commission move the needle on services to Tribal lands.
In keeping with the spirit of the nation-to-nation relationship, certain Reservation meetings were
scheduled on an ad hoc basis. For example, Tribal participants at the Oklahoma training in September
requested a continuation of the Tribal Broadband and Telecom Training 101 after the conclusion of the
formal program. On the day after the training, ONAP staff met with telecommunications and IT
professionals from five Tribal Nations in the administrative offices of the Sac and Fox Nation. Topics
included challenges with the Tribal Lands Lifeline and Link Up programs, concerns about the presence of
certain low-cost wireless providers, and the need for more effective outreach. This meeting, and others
like it, were the natural and important progression of the Commission's training program; as the
"communications IQ" of several Tribal representatives grew, issues associated with the availability and
quality of broadband services on Tribal lands in Oklahoma and the broadcast opportunities available
through the Tribal Priority took center stage.

Following the Washington State training program, the ONAP team drove hundreds of miles to meet with
Tribal Nations on their lands and to discuss and observe first-hand the communications challenges they
face. ONAP visited the Coeur d’Alene Reservation in Idaho, which is a showcase for the successful
provision of broadband services to Tribal entities, businesses, and members. ONAP staff also visited two
Tribal governments on the opposite side of Washington State from the Swinomish Reservation – the
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, which faces serious connectivity challenges over a large

On the day following the Tribal Broadband and Telecom 101 training in Norman, Oklahoma, ONAP staff met in Stroud, OK, with

telecom and IT professionals from five nearby Tribal Nations. The meeting was hosted by the Sac and Fox Nation and arranged by

Michael White, a member of the FCC-Native Nations Broadband Task Force and the Director of IT for the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma.

geographical area; and the Spokane Tribe. Riding a barge across the Columbia River, this was the
Commission’s first visit to the Spokane Tribe's Reservation and it gave ONAP an opportunity to meet
with key Spokane leaders on the Tribe’s communications needs – leaders not otherwise able to meet with
ONAP, as no budget was available for them to come to the Commission’s headquarters in Washington,
ONAP-conducted training and Tribal consultation sessions will continue to evolve in 2013 and beyond.
Several more Tribal Broadband and Telecom 101 programs are planned, so that more Tribal governments
with limited experience in broadband and telecommunications can learn the basics and become fully
versed, fluent, and engaged in the Commission’s Tribal Nation policy initiatives and regulatory processes.

ONAP also has plans to work closely with Tribal governments, inter-Tribal government organizations,
and the FCC-Native Nations Broadband Task Force to determine what the next level of training – perhaps

ONAP visited the Spokane Indian Reservation in eastern Washington state for the first time in 201, and met with economic development

officials of the Spokane Tribe. This required a ferry ride across Roosevelt Lake, part of the Columbia River.
Tri bal Broadband and Telecom 201 or 301 – should encompass.


ONAP would like to acknowledge and express its heartfelt gratitude to the members of the FCC-Native
Nations Broadband Task Force. Without the invaluable and substantive input and contributions from the
Task Force, the Commission’s renewed regulatory agenda for Tribal Nations and its new approach to
training would not have taken shape. It is important to note that each of these individuals has served
without compensation of any kind from the Commission. Members are listed alphabetically within the
appropriate categories.

Elected Tribal Leaders

 Honorable Marlin Fryberg: Tulalip Tribes
 Honorable Joe Garcia: Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo – Task Force Co-Chair
 Honorable Jeffrey Harjo: Seminole Nation of Oklahoma
 Honorable Bradley John: Seneca Nation of Indians
 Honorable Jim Shakespeare: Northern Arapaho Tribe

Appointed Tribal Leaders

 Mark Bilton-Smith: Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians
 Lewis Christman: Tule River Indian Tribe
 Valerie Fast Horse: Coeur d’Alene Tribe
 Debby Gallenberg: Sokaogon Chippewa Community
 Pearl Mikulski: Kawerak
 Carroll Onsae: Hopi Tribe
 Matthew Rantanen: Pala Band of Mission Indians

 Brian Tagaban: Navajo Nation
 Michael White: Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma
 James Williams: Tanana Chiefs Conference

Senior Commission Staff

 Geoffrey Blackwell: Task Force Co-Chair
 Kirk Burgee: Wireline Competition Bureau
 Irene Flannery: Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
 David Furth: Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
 Jane Jackson: Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
 Mark Lloyd: Office of General Counsel
 Kris Monteith: Media Bureau (position currently vacant)
 Robert Nelson: International Bureau
 Jamison Prime: Office of Engineering and Technology
 Thomas Reed: Office of Communications Business Opportunities
 Suzanne Tetreault: Enforcement Bureau (position currently vacant)



A recurring theme throughout this Annual Report is one of teamwork and partnership. ONAP would not
have been able to accomplish all that it did in 2012 without the invaluable contributions of colleagues
from across the Commission. We offer our sincere gratitude to everyone with whom ONAP has worked
so closely, and we single out the following individuals for particular recognition, listed alphabetically
within their respective Bureaus:

Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

 Esther Butler
Administrative Management Specialist

 Tracy Epps-Jones
Administration Management Specialist

 Tamika Jackson
Associate Bureau Chief for Management

 Kris Monteith
Acting Chief

 Toni Simmons
Administrative Management Specialist


Media Bureau

 James Bradshaw
Deputy Chief, Audio Division

 Rudy Bonacci
Electronics Engineer, Audio Division

 Peter Doyle
Chief, Audio Division

 Thomas Nessinger
Senior Counsel, Audio Division

 Lisa Scanlan
Assistant Chief, Audio Division

Office of the Managing Director

 Kim Bassett
Budget Officer

 Nelson Davis
Customer Service Representative

 Carolyn Dickey
Budget Analyst

 Earl Ivey

 David Robbins
Managing Director

 Mark Stephens
Chief Financial Officer

 Jacqueline Walker-Robinson
Financial Management Specialist

 Darshan “Doc” Williams
IT Specialist, Information Technology Center

 Tenecia Williams
Financial Systems Specialist


Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

 Stephen DelSordo
Federal Historic Preservation Officer, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

 Sue McNeil
Special Counsel, Auctions and Spectrum Access Division

 Jeffrey Steinberg
Deputy Chief, Spectrum and Competition Policy Division

 Dorothy Stifflemire
Outreach Marketing Specialist, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

 Margaret Wiener
Chief, Auctions and Spectrum Access Division

 Anne Marie Wypijewski
Attorney Advisor, Spectrum and Competition Policy Division

Wireline Competition Bureau

 Joseph Cavender
Assistant Chief, Telecommunications Access Policy Division

 Patrick Halley
Legal Advisor, Office of the Bureau Chief (now Deputy Director, Office of Legislative Affairs)

 Jonathan Lechter
Attorney Advisor, Telecommunications Access Policy Division


Community-oriented and truly effective deployment of communications technologies within Indian
Country has the potential to level the negative social, cultural, and economic impacts that history has
caused Tribal Nations and Native communities to endure. New commercial, educational, and health care
opportunities, as well as social stability and quality of life issues, may genuinely be addressed though
broadband and other communications mediums. Working towards these ends, the Commission’s
coordination, engagement, and training with Tribal Nations experienced unprecedented levels in fiscal
year 2012. The Commission continued to build upon its reputation among Tribal Nations as one of the
most active, creative, and determined of federal agencies in solving the often recalcitrant problems of the
digital divide in Indian Country.

With the creation of ONAP, the Commission has adopted a reinvigorated regulatory agenda for Tribal
lands nationwide, involving critical elements of consultation, outreach, and training. This renewed effort
is in major motion, and must be maintained, as there is much more good work to be done, with additional
milestones and initiatives to be achieved. The rules found throughout the regulations of the Commission
regarding Tribal lands are becoming more and more interrelated with the comprehensive solutions to the
lack of services on Tribal lands. Tribal lands spectrum licensing, Mobility and Tribal Mobility Fund

reverse auctions, Lifeline assistance, Link Up support, the Commission’s authority to designate ETCs on
Tribal lands, and the Commission’s renewed consultation, training, and engagement programs all play a
role in the development of genuine solutions for Tribal Nations.

Through ONAP’s work across the entire FCC, the Commission has identified key strategic indicators for
success in addressing the lack of broadband and other critical communications technologies among
American Indian Tribes, Alaska Native Villages, and Native communities, such as Hawaiian Home
Lands. These important indicators of success are reflected in the Commission’s new rules, proposed
rules, and new policies with respect to Tribal Nations. These indicators of success include new levels of
dialogue and reporting, new licensing priority opportunities, and increased support and investment
through universal service support mechanisms.

New and important solution-oriented dialogue goals are found both in the renewed nation-to-nation
consultation between the Commission and Indian Country, and in rules for a new “meaningful
engagement” between universal service-supported carriers and the Tribal Nations whose lands they serve.
The reporting requirement of the Tribal government engagement obligation will provide a basis for Tribal
Nations, the Commission, and the supported carriers to address future needs and opportunities. It has the
potential to become the detailed solution roadmap to the digital divide on a reservation by reservation,
Tribal Nation by Tribal Nation basis.

The new radio broadcast licensing Tribal priority and the Commission’s commercial mobile radio
spectrum rulemaking proposals for Tribal lands recognize a fundamental component to finding a solution
in the “one-size-fits-none” Indian Country paradigm. That is, very often the individual Tribal Nation
itself must become invested and involved in the solution or delivery of services. The need for spectrum-
based services is pervasive and, in many places across Indian Country, the lack of wireless telephony and
broadband is a matter of life or death. As Tribal Nations begin to take their place at the table of broadcast
media, the prevalent misperceptions of Tribal Nations will be corrected, and Tribal cultural values will be
preserved at the same time as public safety is protected through the long adopted broadcast radio services.

Several of the reasons why any Tribal Nation governs its people and its lands – preserving and advancing
Tribal Nation community culture and providing future opportunity for its people – are the same reasons
why it must become involved itself in identifying and finding solutions to the lack of services. When a
Tribal Nation steps up to work with the Commission and the communications industries, solutions follow.

The Commission, with ONAP and ONAP’s coordination throughout the Bureaus and Offices of the FCC,
has laid the groundwork for the path forward. Multiple important new regulatory priorities and
opportunities are taking effect in fiscal year 2013, such as the Tribal Mobility Fund Phase I reverse
auction. The Tribal consultation and coordination priorities of fiscal year 2013 – the Tribal Mobility
Fund, Tribal government engagement obligation, Spectrum Over Tribal Lands Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, cultural preservation review of non-compliant towers, ETC designation petitions to serve
Tribal lands, and the radio broadcast Tribal Priority – will provide the opportunity to maintain the forward
momentum of the Commission’s agenda for Tribal Nations and Native communities, and its critical
mission to close the digital divide in Indian Country.


Federal Communications Commission

Office of Native Affairs and Policy

2012 Annual Report

Appendix A

List of 2012 Travel, Training, and Meetings in Indian Country

Appendix A: List of 2012 Travel, Training, and Meetings in Indian Country

Commission-wide travel relating to Tribal Nations in 2012 included representatives from the

Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Media Bureau, Office of Managing Director, Wireless

Telecommunications Bureau, and Wireline Competition Bureau

First Quarter

01/08-13 -- Santa Fe, NM: FCC Native Nations Task Force Meeting – conducted meeting;
consultations; Reservation visits/meetings
01/31-02-06 – Phoenix, AZ: Tribal Telecom Conference 2012 – presented, exhibited; consultation;
visit/meeting on the Gila River Reservation
02/12-18 – Olympia, WA: Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Conference – presented
02/26-03/02 – Las Vegas, NV: Reservation Economic Summit – presented, exhibited, consultation
03/19-21 – New Orleans, LA: Native American Finance Officers Association Conference – presented

Second Quarter

04/02-05 – Durant, OK: To Bridge A Gap Conference – presented, consultation
05/09-16 – Anacortes, WA: Regional Training – conducted Native Learning Lab, consultations;
visits/meetings on the Colville and Spokane Reservations in Washington State and the Coeur d’Alene
Reservation in Idaho
05/22 – Marksville, LA: United South and Eastern Tribes 2012 Semi-Annual Meeting – presented,
05/21-26 –

Pala, CA

: Regional Training – conducted Native Learning Lab, consultation; Tribal
Enterprise visits
05/30-06/02 – Arizona/New Mexico – AZ-NM Telecommunications Assn. Conference; consultation

Third Quarter

06/16-21 – Lincoln, NE: NCAI Mid-Year Conference and Task Force Meeting – presented, exhibited,
conducted Native Learning Lab, consultation
07/11-15 – Albuquerque, NM: Native Public Media Summit – presented; consultations; Reservation
meeting at Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan) Pueblo
07/22-08/01 – Alaska (Kotzebue, Noatak, Nome, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Ruby): Regional
Training; community meetings; consultations; visits with Alaska Native Village governments in
Kotzebue, Noatak, Nome, and Ruby
08/27-31 – Rhode Island and Maine: Consultations, visits meetings on the Narragansett Indian
Reservation in Rhode Island, and with the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and the Aroostook Band of
Micmacs in Maine
09/10-12 – Suquamish, WA: Annual Training Conference of the National Association of Tribal Historic
Preservation Officers – presented
09/10-14 – Lac du Flambeau, WI: Regional Training – conducted Native Learning Lab, consultation;
Reservation visit

09/17-21 – Oklahoma City: Regional Training – conducted Native Learning Lab, consultation;
meeting/visit to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reservation; meeting with telecommunications and IT
professionals from five North Central Oklahoma Tribes on the Sac and Fox Nation
09/24-27 – Pendleton, OR: Annual conference of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians – presented,
conducted Native Learning Lab, exhibited; Tribal enterprise visit
09/24-30 – Phoenix, AZ: Meetings of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona and National Tribal
Telecommunications Association – presented; consultation; visits/meetings at Gila River and Hopi
09/25-27 -- Devil’s Tower, WY, and Medicine Butte, SD: Tower site visits

Fourth Quarter

10/21-26 – Sacramento, CA: NCAI Annual Conference – presented, consultation

Federal Communications Commission

Office of Native Affairs and Policy

2012 Annual Report

Appendix B

2012 Headquarters Meetings and Calls with Tribal Leaders,
Carriers, and Parties Interested in the Provision of
Communications Services in Indian Country

Appendix B: 2012 Headquarters Meetings and Calls with Tribal Leaders, Carriers, and Parties

Interested in the Provision of Communications Services in Indian Country

Throughout the year, and together with many other Bureaus and Offices from across the Commission,
ONAP held substantive meetings and conference calls with elected Tribal leaders and officials from
Tribal governments and other entities, Tribally owned telecommunications carriers, and inter-Tribal
organizations. ONAP, joined by other Commission officials, also met with a broad range of the
leadership and representatives of carriers serving Tribal lands, as well as industry associations. These
meetings often focused on open dockets and other matters before the Commission. With respect to Tribal
meetings, they often followed up on discussions begun at field training programs, Tribal conferences, and
during consultations and listening sessions.
Meeting topics included obtaining ETC certification, the transformation of USF and the impact on Tribes
and carriers serving Tribal lands, changes to the Tribal Lifeline and Link Up programs, the Mobility Fund
and Tribal Mobility Fund, the Tribal government engagement obligation, obtaining spectrum, starting or
obtaining a Tribal radio or TV station, and filing comments and petitions relating to Commission rules
and rulemakings affecting Tribal Nations, Native communities, and Tribal lands.
The list below is not nearly exhaustive, but is illustrative of the broad breadth of entities with which
ONAP held substantive calls and meetings during 2012. Calls and meetings were conducted with:

January 2012

1/23 – Smith Bagley, Inc.

February 2012

2/15 – United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc.

March 2012

3/6 – Acoma Pueblo
3/6 – Karuk Tribe
3/6 – Warm Springs Telecommunications Company
3/7 – Indian Health Service
3/8 – Gila River Indian Community and Gila River Telecommunications, Inc.
3/8 – United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc.
3/9 – Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association
3/9 – National Tribal Telecommunications Association
3/15 – Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
3/15 – Seneca Nation of Indians

3/19 – South Dakota RLECs
3/21 – Hopi Tribe
3/22 – Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
3/28 – Mescalero Apache Telecom, Inc.

April 2012

4/9 – Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
4/19 – Tulalip Tribes
4/19 – Sacred Wind Communications
4/20 – Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
4/25 – Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association
4/26 – Inter Tribal Council of Arizona
4/27 – San Carlos Apache Tribe

May 2012

5/1 – Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
5/2 – Hopi Tribe
5/4 – Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
5/7 – Hopi Telecommunications, Inc.; Gila River Telecommunications, Inc.; and Saddleback
5/17 – Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums
5/18 – National Congress of American Indians
5/19 – Native Public Media

June 2012

6/7 – Mescalero Apache Tribe, San Carlos Apache Tribe, San Carlos Apache Telecommunications and
Utilities, Inc., Mescalero Apache Telecommunication, Inc.
6/12 – Hopi Telecommunications, Inc.; Gila River Telecommunications, Inc.; and Saddleback
6/13 – San Carlos Apache Telecommunications and Utilities, Inc.
6/26 – Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

July 2012

7/5 – Ione Band of Miwok Indians
7/16 – Smith Bagley, Inc.
7/18 – Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
7/19 – Loneman School, Oglala, SD

August 2012

8/8 – Tanana Chiefs Conference
8/8 – Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
8/13 – Navajo Nation
8/13 – Seminole Tribe of Florida
8/15 – Tulalip Tribes
8/22 – Navajo Nation, Sacred Wind Communications, and Frontier Communications
8/24 – Nez Perce Tribe

September 2012

9/6 – Seminole Tribe of Florida
9/6 – John Staurulakis, Inc.
9/6 –Cherokee Nation
9/7 – National Tribal Telecommunications Association

October 2012

10/10 – Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
10/11 – Alaska Federation of Natives
10/18 – Navajo Tribal Utility Authority

November 2012

11/1 – PCIA-The Wireless Infrastructure Association
11/7 – Hualapai Tribe
11/7 – Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

11/15 – US Telecom, Inc.; CTIA-The Wireless Association; NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association;
and several member companies
11/16 – National Cable & Telecommunications Association
11/26 – Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
11/28 – Loneman School, Oglala, SD
11/29 – Loneman School, Oglala, SD
11/29 – Mobi Wireless

December 2012

12/3 - Standing Rock Telecommunications, Inc.
12/6 - Mescalero Apache Telecom, Inc.
12/6 - Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
12/13 - Sandwich Isles Communications, Inc.
12/18 – U.S. Government Accountability Office

Federal Communications Commission

Office of Native Affairs and Policy

2012 Annual Report

Appendix C

Example Letters from Tribal Leaders

Federal Communications Commission

Office of Native Affairs and Policy

2012 Annual Report

Appendix D

Example Resolutions from Tribal Nations

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