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In many corners of the world, the internet has become as common as electricity. Yet, for Indigenous communities in the United States, this is far from the reality.

Research from the Rutgers Policy Lab and the Federal Communication Commission’s data reveal that, in areas like Apache County, AZ, and San Juan County, UT, broadband access is alarmingly limited, with only 67% of tribal lands having access to speeds deemed acceptable by the FCC.

This discrepancy isn’t just a matter of numbers; it’s a reflection of the broader systemic challenges these communities face, from geographical isolation to infrastructural neglect.

In this blog, we will not only delve into the significant impacts of this digital divide on the education and economic well-being of Indigenous communities, but also highlight various initiatives and programs designed to provide affordable and effective internet solutions for this population.

Our goal is to shed light on both the challenges and the emerging opportunities to ensure that our Indigenous neighbors have every chance possible to succeed in the digital age.

Table of Contents

How Lack of Internet Impacts the Education and Economic Well-Being of Indigenous Communities

The digital divide is more than a technological gap; it’s a matter of justice, equity, and opportunity, especially for Indigenous communities.

Historical traumas, such as forced attendance at boarding schools, have left lasting impacts on many Native Americans, leading to trust issues, depression, and anxiety. These factors have been shown to impact the academic performance of Indigenous students, who score an average of 15 points lower than their non-Indigenous peers in school on standardized math and reading tests.

The absence of reliable internet access compounds these challenges. Indigenous students, without consistent online access, miss crucial learning opportunities, resources, and interactions with educators and peers, placing them at a disadvantage in our digital age and contributing to negative impacts on their mental and emotional health.

The modern job market, with its increasing emphasis on remote work, demands stable internet connections. For Indigenous individuals, this lack of access restricts their employment prospects, affecting not only personal livelihoods but also community economic growth. Indigenous entrepreneurs, without consistent digital access, also find it challenging to reach broader markets or utilize online platforms effectively. Additionally, only 70% of Native Americans complete high school, putting them at an even greater disadvantage in the demanding job market. Without adequate internet access, many individuals in this demographic can’t even go back to school and get a GED or explore all work opportunities.

Human-I-T is acutely aware of these challenges and is dedicated to ensuring Indigenous communities are not sidelined in the digital era. The federal government’s Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act has earmarked $2 billion for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, aiming to enhance broadband deployment on tribal lands and promote telehealth, distance learning, and digital inclusion. Addressing the digital divide goes beyond mere connectivity; it’s about empowering Indigenous communities and ensuring equity. The path forward is challenging, but with collective effort, a digitally inclusive future is attainable.

The right internet plan can be the bridge to countless opportunities. For Indigenous communities, this bridge is often riddled with gaps. Here, we take a look at plans designed to address the unique challenges faced by indigenous peoples, ensuring that the digital realm is accessible to all.

Optimum Indigenous Discounts

Pros: Offers in areas that traditionally lack coverage, ensuring remote Indigenous territories aren’t left out.

Cons: Might require long-term contracts, which can be restrictive for some households.

Xfinity Community Special Offers

Pros: Provides additional resources for digital literacy, aiding communities unfamiliar with internet usage.

Cons: Potential data caps can limit extensive online activities, like remote learning or content streaming.

Verizon Indigenous Community Discounts

Pros: Verizon’s initiatives aim to boost signal strength in remote Indigenous areas, ensuring consistent connectivity.

Cons: There are only limited special offers or discounts specifically tailored for Indigenous communities.

Lifeline Program for Indigenous Communities

Pros: Subsidized rates specifically for Indigenous households and emphasis on easy application processes tailored for Indigenous communities.

Cons: May have limited ISP options under the program, potentially restricting choices for Indigenous households.

With tailored plans and dedicated support, a fully connected Indigenous community is within reach. While these plans are helpful, they may not offer what is needed for this demographic to unlock their full potential online.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP): A Game-Changer for Indigenous Communities

What are ACP benefits for Indigenous Communities?

The Affordable Connectivity Program offers up to $75 per month for those residing on qualifying Tribal lands. This generous benefit means that indigenous communities who receive ACP benefits through Human-I-T receive internet at home completely free of charge! Additionally, Human-I-T offers indigenous households who apply for the ACP a one-time discount of up to $100 off the purchase price of a laptop from our already steeply-discounted online store.

For Indigenous communities, the implications of the ACP are profound. Historically, these communities have faced a double-edged sword of high internet costs and low-quality service, especially in remote areas. The ACP directly addresses these challenges by subsidizing costs and incentivizing service providers to enhance their offerings in Indigenous territories. This means faster, more reliable internet access, enabling Indigenous individuals to tap into educational resources, telehealth services, remote work opportunities, and cultural exchanges online.

However, accessing these benefits is still a challenge for many, as navigating the application process, understanding eligibility criteria, or simply figuring out how to make the most of the program can be daunting. That’s where Human-I-T shines.

How Human-I-T Helps Indigenous Communities Get ACP Benefits

By applying for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) through Human-I-T , Indigenous individuals and families can access the low-cost technology and internet they need to thrive in the digital age.

With a team of dedicated experts, Human-I-T offers personalized assistance for Indigenous Americans trying to access ACP benefits. From understanding the nuances of the ACP to ensuring a smooth application process, the team is there to guide and assist our Indigenous recipients at every step of the process.

If you or someone you know could benefit from low-cost or free internet, don’t let this chance slip away. Reach out now, fill out our form, and connect with a dedicated team member about getting free internet through the ACP.

So, if you’re from an Indigenous community, please know that you have a plethora of options to get cheap internet for indigenous communities that won’t just help you get connected, but help you unlock your full potential online. 

Sign up for your free ACP benefits through Human-I-T today and let a member of our team help  you access the limitless resources available to you online. 

Liz Cooper

About Liz Cooper