Meeting Indian Country’s Communications Needs Native Public Media and Colorado Law School Address Spectrum Issues in Indian Country

For Immediate Release


Loris Taylor (928) 853-2430

Brad Bernthal (303) 492-0610

Native Public Media and the University of Colorado School of Law’s Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic propose changes in federal spectrum policy to address the needs of Native Americans in a new Paper entitled Spectrum Access in Indian Country.

“Spectrum, like land and water, is a finite resource that is vital and critical to the nation-building efforts of Indian Tribes,” says Loris Taylor (Hopi), Executive Director of Native Public Media.  “Ubiquitous broadband access is essential to communications, health care, education, political engagement and economic stimulation on tribal homelands.  In an increasingly digitalized world, we cannot afford to live without it.”

While over two-thirds of U.S. households now subscribe to broadband, the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated in 2006 that broadband penetration on Indian lands is less than 10%.  Native Public Media and the University of Colorado analyze spectrum policy tools which would help address this dramatic broadband gap.  Proposed policy recommendations include relaxed power limitations in unlicensed bands for rural areas as well as certain spectrum exemptions involving the 3650 band in Indian Country.

The research updates issues previously addressed in the Native Networking: Telecommunications and Information Technology in Indian Country, a report published by the Benton Foundation in 1999.

“We are proud to have supported this effort,” said Charles Benton, Chairman and CEO of the Benton Foundation. “Ten years ago we put together a resource for decision makers in tribal communities and policy makers on the state of telecommunications and information technologies in Indian Country. As policymakers plot a course for ensuring that all American have affordable access to high-speed Internet connections, this research should inform a National Broadband Plan that includes Indian Country.”

Colorado Law Associate Clinical Professor Brad Bernthal supervised the project.  “It is imperative to extend broadband access and improve broadband penetration in Indian Country.  The question is how to do it.  This research tackles a critical policy challenge and makes progress on how spectrum policy can be part of the solution to an important problem.”    Bernthal added, “Loris and the team of Native Public Media advisors are terrific.  We look forward to continuing the relationship in the future.”  The work for Native Public Media was spearheaded by University of Colorado graduate students Julie Penner, JD/MBA candidate 2010, and Bhavin Parekh, MS in Telecommunications candidate 2009.

The Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law and Policy Clinic is an academic program supervised by instructors from the University of Colorado School of Law. Student practitioners provide assistance “in the public interest” in order to conduct thoughtful policy analysis and provide unbiased assistance concerning technology issues to regulatory entities, courts, legislatures and standard setting bodies.

Native Public Media’s mission is to expand Native access, ownership and control of media. Enhanced communication capabilities in Indian Country are a critical part of supporting Native nations’ ability to secure their homelands, educate and inform their citizens, and maintain growing economies.  This research is part of a larger policy initiative spearheaded by Native Public Media concerning ways to improve broadband availability and penetration in Indian Country.

Native Public Media policy advisors to the project included Geoffrey Blackwell of Chickasaw Nations Industries, John Crigler of Garvey, Shubert and Barer, Sascha Meinrath of the New America Foundation and Carol Pierson of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.

The Paper “Spectrum Access in Indian Country” is available on Native Public Media’s website at

Published by Traci L. Morris

Dr. Morris, the Director of the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University is a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. Under her leadership, the AIPI has grown and diversified its service to Indian Country via an MOU formalizing a long-standing partnership with the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) and forming the Tribal Economic Leadership Program offering training in Tribal Economic Governance and Tribal Financial Management; access to Entrepreneurship training and tribal business support through Inno-Nations; and Economic Development Consulting; and, the formalization of the Institute via by-laws and an advisory board comprised of both internal ASU leadership and external tribal and non-tribal leadership. In her work at both ASU and prior, Morris has worked with Native American tribes; Tribal businesses; Native American non-profits; Native media makers, artists, and galleries; written a college-accredited curriculum in Native American new media; and has advocated for digital inclusion at the Federal Communications Commission and on Capitol Hill. Morris’s research and publications on Native American media and the digital divide is focused on Internet use, digital inclusion, network neutrality, digital and new media curriculums, digital inclusion and development of broadband networks in Indian Country. Her book, Native American Voices: A Reader, continues to be a primary teaching tool in colleges throughout the country. Dr. Morris is Affiliated Faculty at ASU's School for the Future of Innovation in Society, an Affiliate of ASU's Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology, a Senior Sustainability Scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, President of the Board of the Phoenix Indian Center, Board member of the Arizona American Indian Chamber of Commerce, and on the Advisory Council of the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums. Formerly, Morris served member of the Advisory Board for the Department of Labor's Native American Employment and Training Council and served a two-year appointment (2014-2016 and 2010-2012) on the Federal Communications Commission's Consumer Advisory Committee. As an entrepreneur prior to her ASU appointment, Morris founded Homahota Consulting LLC, a national Native American woman-owned professional services firm working in policy analysis, telecommunications, education, and research assisting tribes in their nation-building efforts and working with Native Nations, tribal businesses and those businesses working with tribes. Morris has an M. A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona’s American Indian Studies, in addition to a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Colorado State University.

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