We know how to serve Indian Country

Traci Morris blog

Dr. Traci Morris

AIPI Executive Director

Usually, summer is a slow time at the ASU campus. However, these last two summers have been quite the exception一not despite the pandemic, but because of it!  

Last summer we were locked down, working from our homes, and yet still determined to carry out our mission of serving Indian Country. During this time we worked on getting the word out on the 2.5 GHz Tribal Priority in Spectrum Licencing window in addition to authoring several policy briefs and sharing information. The pandemic shined a light on many things, but especially the ugly truth of just how disconnected Tribal lands are. During the pandemic, Tribes were like the canary in the coal mine. As a result, our work was elevated given our expertise on Tribal broadband and infrastructure.

This year we’re not locked down, but we’re not in our offices either. This is because we’re waiting to move to our new offices at the Arizona Center in September, and we look forward to welcoming you to them. This summer we’re monitoring the license-holders that were awarded licenses in the 2.5 GHz window. At the same time, we’re working to inform Tribal communities about the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB), and are also monitoring the American Jobs Act which will infuse billions of dollars in infrastructure, especially broadband. The funding and support we’ve received as a result of last year’s work has resulted in our staff doubling in size, and we’ve also seen an increase in our platform in the broadband and infrastructure space. If you’re interested in this work, please take a look at our Tribal Broadband resources page.

This year with the help of funders and Watt's College, we’ve launched our Thought Leaders Fellowship Program, a program I’ve dreamed about starting since I became the executive director of AIPI. We’re excited to have three amazing people in our orbit for the inaugural year. Also, funders are supporting our Indigenous Leadership Academy, and it is well on its way to being a model leadership program in Arizona. We’ve recently hired a stellar Indigenous curriculum writer, and will also be working with the Labriola National Native American Data Center at ASU and its new Indigenous director.

As we start another academic year with the virus looming, I’m reminded of how far we’ve come but I also know whatever does come, we know how to do this now.  We know how to serve Indian Country, we know how to work remotely, and we know how to get things done. I’m excited about things coming this year and I’m thankful for all those who have supported our work or have been a part of the work, past, and present.

As always, #BeTheSolution