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Tierna Unruh-Enos is the managing editor and associate publisher at The Paper.

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Many of New Mexico’s Tribal areas have struggled with access to broadband internet. According to the historic Yazzie vs. Martinez case, lack of internet access and other necessities meant the state wasn’t providing sufficient education to all public school students, especially those on Tribal land. For Jemez Pueblo, the struggle for access to broadband internet has finally ended. A new data center located in Downtown Albuquerque began delivering high-speed broadband internet to over 500 households in the pueblo this week.

Over the course of the last five years, the Pueblo of Jemez initiated a plan to connect every home to fast, reliable internet. The COVID-19 pandemic created an immediate need for the 3,400 member tribe, especially for schoolchildren. The broadband access also connects all Tribal government offices, departments and programs to the internet.

The plan was launched by successfully applying for and securing an E-Rate (Educational Rate) application from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that brought the initial funds to connect Fiber for high-speed internet to the Jemez Library, San Diego Riverside and Walatowa High Charter Schools.

The State of New Mexico provided $1.3 Million in Capital Outlay and an additional $1.4 Million from the state’s allocation of CARES Act funds for this project. CARES Act allocations coordinated with tribes, the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration, and IAD. In addition, the Pueblo of Jemez leveraged state, federal and private donations to fully fund this initiative.

“The Lujan Grisham administration is committed to ensuring broadband access for every community,” said Indian Affairs Secretary Lynn Trujillo. “The Pueblo of Jemez should be commended for this tremendous accomplishment. The people of Jemez Pueblo will now be able to access the internet for school, work, healthcare, and to stay connected to the world.”

“The Pueblo of Jemez has worked diligently to develop the Jemez Pueblo Tribal Network to provide Broadband–high-speed connectivity through fiber-optic connections and wireless networks to ensure our people have the tools necessary to address pandemic issues and pursue future educational and career opportunities,” said Pueblo of Jemez Governor Michael Toledo, Jr.

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