June 22, 2010 John Giusti (202) 418-2000


“I commend and applaud the Chairman’s decision to appoint Geoffrey Blackwell to lead the Commission’s new initiatives for Indian Country.  As we work to ensure the deployment and adoption of broadband throughout this great land of ours, there has never been a more critical time for us to breathe new life into our trust relationship, working government-to-government, with Native Americans.

“The enabling power of broadband must leave no American behind—including the original Americans.  I have seen first-hand the state of communications in Indian Country.  We can, we must, do better.  In so many places where Native Americans live, poverty endures, unemployment is at levels no society should tolerate, education languishes and even basic public safety falls far short of what people have a right to expect.  Up-to-date, state-of-the-art communication facilities and services are still strangers across most of Indian Country.  Even plain old telephone service—which so many of us take for granted—is at the shockingly low level of less than 70 percent household penetration on many of the tribal lands.  And we don’t even begin to have reliable data on the status of Internet subscribership on tribal lands, because no one has bothered to collect it.  Anecdotally, we know that broadband access on tribal lands is minimal—well below 10 percent.  That’s not just unacceptable.  It’s a national disgrace.  Broadband is critical technology for the economic growth—perhaps even the survival—of these communities.

“The Chairman has charged Geoff with the essential task of implementing the National Broadband Plan’s recommendations for the deployment and adoption of broadband on tribal lands, including the establishment of an Office of Tribal Affairs.  I am working hand-in-hand with the Chairman and my colleagues to make this a reality as quickly as possible.

“I have had the privilege of working closely with Geoff before, and believe his leadership will do much to restore a productive dialogue between the FCC and the sovereign tribal governments.  I believe that the Chairman could have picked no better person to give the issues of Indian Country visibility and a deeper understanding here at the FCC.”

— FCC —

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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