Aaniin, the Fond du Lac Band’s Fiber to Home Initiative, to Create Opportunity for Entrepreneurs

In 2017, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa put fiber into the ground in the northwestern part of the Fond du Lac Reservation in Minnesota. The band recently submitted its licensing paperwork to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to form its telecommunications company, Aaniin.

Aaniin, which means “hello” in Ojibwe, will connect residents of the remote reservation to global information and opportunities, and level the playing field for entrepreneurs.

Aaniin aims to provide high-speed broadband services to more than 1,800 homes, for tribal and non-tribal members, by 2020. Come November 2018, Aaniin is expected to begin delivering fiber-optic Internet to roughly 50 to 100 reservation homes. The Fiber to the Home project Aaniin will additionally offer telephone and video services, available to residents via bundle options and a low-income lifeline.

Aaniin’s Fiber to the Home initiative received $8.9 million in federal and state grants to construct the network, according to MPR News, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The band is contributing $3.5 million of its own funds.

Broadband allows rural businesses to compete on a global scale. The new system “will help people have small businesses if they need to move files back and forth on the internet, it will help people if they want to go back to school, or students doing their homework,” the band’s planning director Jason Hollinday told MPR News. “All these opportunities will be there now that weren’t there before.”