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Osage Nation to break ground on broadband expansion projects March 4

Wahzhazhe Connect will be joined by Biden-Harris Administration officials to break ground on its National Telecommunication Information Administration projects at 10:30 a.m., at Wakon Iron Hall in the Pawhuska Village.

Osage Nation and federal government officials will hold a groundbreaking celebration on March 4 for its next broadband expansion projects planned within the reservation boundaries.

The Nation’s Wahzhazhe Connect will be joined by Biden-Harris Administration officials to break ground on its National Telecommunication Information Administration (NTIA) broadband expansion projects at 1:30 p.m., at Wakon Iron Hall in the Pawhuska Village. Representatives from NTIA will attend the event along with staff from the Oklahoma Broadband Office, according to a news release.

The groundbreaking marks the beginning of construction funded by $40.6M in federal grants awarded to the Nation to build out high-speed fiber optic broadband throughout the Osage Nation Reservation. The program is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative, which aims to ensure that everyone in America has access to reliable affordable high-speed internet. The projects will build a network of more than 200 miles of fiber optic cabling along with 16 towers for fixed Wi-Fi.

“This will change our community for the better at many different levels, including education, social connection, health services, and cooperation with our community and communities throughout the world,” Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said in a statement.

Wahzhazhe Connect and Nation officials celebrated the broadband expansion project launch in February 2023.

The release shares the following information on the broadband projects:

The first set of NTIA projects include the western boundary of the Osage Nation, which runs from the Arkansas River bridge, east of Ponca City, to the State Highway 18 intersection with U.S. 60, located north of Fairfax. The Pawhuska Village is the second project in this phase, which includes construction of fiber-to-the-home for residents. The third project includes ON government facilities in Pawhuska, including the Fitness Center, Domestic Violence Shelter, and the newly renovated Visitors Center.

This next phase marks the completion of the required environmental and historic preservation analysis, which includes an assessment of risks to the land, air, and water, endangered species, and risks to human health. The Nation’s Historic Preservation Office conducted the cultural resources surveys, which also identified potential archaeological sites in the path of construction, as well as burial sites, and areas of historical significance to the Nation.

The next set of projects of the broadband buildout includes extending the eastern boundary, running from Pawhuska to Bartlesville, the City of Fairfax, and the new Primary Residential Treatment Centers. Also included are routes from Pawhuska to Hominy, Skiatook to Tulsa, as well as Barnsdall, Avant, and Sperry. Internet service will be provided by Osage Innovative Solutions, also known as “Osage Broadband,” which will be available first in Pawhuska and Fairfax Senior Housing neighborhoods.

Author

  • Benny Polacca

    Title: Senior Reporter

    Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

    Instagram: @bpolacca

    Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

    Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

    Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

    Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

    Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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Benny Polacca
Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org

Title: Senior Reporter

Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

Instagram: @bpolacca

Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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