EnerTribe, a Native American-owned firm, is engineering and constructing the electronic infrastructure for Yurok Connect. (EnerTribe)
Broadband Internet access will give the approximately 300 residents on the Yurok Reservation in the Klamath and Weitchpec areas of Northern California access to the world wide web and global economy — to start businesses and access distance-learning opportunities.
The Yurok Tribe this year committed $2.1 million for its Yurok Connect Broadband Project, slated for completion this month. Yurok Connect is largely funded through the Tribe’s share of aid from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Yurok IT department also obtained a grant to hire Native and women-owned EnerTribe to engineer and construct the electronic infrastructure.
As EnerTribe CEO Forest James recently shared on LinkedIn: “We are in a race against the weather, hoping it holds long enough to get everyone online! Two 150 towers, 4 complete off-grid sites, and a brand new middle and last-mile!! Can’t wait to take this network for a spin! Thank you to the Yurok Tribe and our teams who have been working tirelessly! Stay tuned for exciting developments on the Hoopa Broadband Initiatives!”
Yurok Connect, a Yurok Tribe-owned, wireless internet service provider launched in 2013, is administered by the Yurok IT department.
Beyond enhancing education, business and e-commerce opportunities, the initiative will aid telehealth, natural disaster response and public safety. Currently, Yurok Connect cannot reach a significant segment of the reservation, which has hindered the Tribe’s capacity to communicate with its citizens during the crisis. The Yurok Connect Broadband Project will permanently resolve this issue.
“The Broadband Project will considerably enhance emergency communications on the reservation for decades to come,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “It will also create a wide range of additional benefits for tribal citizens, ranging from new economic opportunities to improved healthcare options. This is game changer for the Yurok Tribe.”