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Capital Briefs | More than $634 million awarded to 25 tribal entities in August

WASHINGTON

Navajo Tribal Utility Authority will receive $50.8 million to connect more than 27,000 homes to broadband services, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Tuesday.

The funds for NTUA are a grant, part of $105.8 million awarded from the “Internet for All” initiative to five tribal entities in Arizona.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced the grants at the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona in Arizona.

The grants will fund high-speed internet infrastructure deployment projects.

Among the improvements, the $50 million will fund 11 new telecommunications towers, 204 miles of new fiber and installations, wireless broadband equipment, new LTE carriers and expansion, backbone upgrades, and increase or connect high-speed internet to homes on the Navajo Nation.

President Jonathan Nez, who is running for re-election, said, “This funding will help the Navajo Nation to build on the success that we’ve had with expanding broadband through the CARES Act and the recently approved American Rescue Plan Act funds. We are building a stronger Nation for future generations.”

Other tribes receiving grants include Hopi Telecommunications Inc., Pascua Yaqui Tribe, San Carlos Apache Tribal Council/Triplet Mountain Communications Inc., and White Mountain Apache Tribe.

The projects will connect more than 33,300 homes with the high-speed internet connectivity necessary for learning, work, and telehealth.

Tuesday’s awards are the last of the more than $500 million package that Vice President Kamala Harris pledged to deliver before the end of August. In total, $634.7 million was awarded to tribal entities in August.

Pascua Yaqui Tribal Chairman Peter Yucupicio said, “This (grant) will empower the Pascua Yaqui Tribe to carry out critical capital projects that directly support work, education, and health monitoring on the reservation utilizing remote options in response to the coronavirus public health emergency.”

The awards announced Tuesday were part of nearly $1 billion made available in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The bipartisan Infrastructure Law appropriated an additional $2 billion for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.

Health officials report 18 new cases

WINDOW ROCK – On Monday, Navajo Nation health officials reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 for the three days from Aug. 27 to 29, for a total of 71,649 cases in the Nation.

Five deaths were reported, and a total of 1,884 people have died from the virus.

Based on the number of cases from Aug. 12 to Aug. 25, the Navajo Department of Health issued a health advisory warning of the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 to 51 of the 110 chapters.
These chapters are: Baca/Prewitt, Bird Springs, Cameron, Casamero Lake, Chéch’iltah, Chinle, Church Rock, Coyote Canyon, Crownpoint, Fort Defiance, Ganado, and
Hard Rock, Houck, Indian Wells, Iyanbito, Kaibeto, Kayenta, Lake Valley, Lukachukai, Lupton, Manuelito, and
Many Farms, Mexican Springs, Nahat’á Dziil, Naschitti, Nazlini, Newcomb, Pinedale, Pinon, Ramah Red Lake, and
Red Valley, Rock Point, Rock Springs, Rough Rock, Sheep Springs, Shiprock, Shonto, Smith Lake, St. Michaels, Tachíí/Blue Gap, and
Teec Nos Pos, Teesto, Thoreau, Tohatchi, Tonalea, Tsaile/Wheatfields, Tsayatoh, Tsélání/Cottonwood and Twin Lakes.

Forum held for victims of uranium mining

WINDOW ROCK – On Friday, a public forum in Farmington hosted by the Navajo Nation Washington Office provided a platform for Navajo people to engage with congressional, state and Navajo Nation leaders regarding compensation and benefits provided through the federal Radiation Exposure and Compensation Act, according to the president’s office.

The Washington Office worked with the Navajo Uranium Radiation Victims Committee to host the forum. Delegates Amber Kanazbah Crotty, Eugenia Charles Newton and Paul Begay also attended.

Navajo Nation leaders successfully advocated for a two-year extension of RECA, which was signed by U.S. President Joe Biden in June.

The extension provides more time to work with Congress on a long-term solution that would extend the act until 2040, expand eligibility to downwinders based on geographic residency and expand the range of years that can be used for calculating exposure for certain individuals working in uranium mines, mills, or transporting uranium ore.

President Jonathan Nez, who is running for re-election, said, “The federal government is obligated to helping our people who are suffering with health conditions resulting from the federal government’s uranium activities decades ago.”

During the forum, Diné shared firsthand accounts of the devastating health and environmental impacts caused by the federal government’s uranium mining along with the challenges of applying for benefits for themselves and family members who were exposed to uranium in the past.

Lashawna Tso, director of the Washington Office, said they will continue to coordinate with victims and federal officials to increase access to benefits and to advocate for the approval of the RECA long-term extension.


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