Network Sovereignty: Understanding the Implications of Tribal Broadband Networks
Duarte, Marisa Elena
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For tribal leaders, bringing reliable, affordable broadband Internet service to Indian Country is a matter of self-determination. At this point in history, tribal leaders enforce the sovereign rights of tribes by communicating through information and communication technologies (ICTs) mobilized to work across powerful institutions. Tribal leaders who command the processes of broadband Internet deployment within their communities increase their capacity to support the health of tribal lands, waters, and peoples. Whereas freedom of expression and the exercise of all other human rights through the Internet is a human right, and the infrastructure for connecting to the Internet is essential for citizens to self-govern, so does the U.S. federal government, under obligation of the trust relationship they share with federally-recognized tribes, have a responsibility to support the deployment of broadband Internet infrastructure--including networks, devices, spectrum, technical expertise, and policies--throughout Indian Country. This qualitative inquiry reveals how tribal leaders who deploy broadband Internet to their communities must contend with national telecommunications policy, neighboring deployment strategies, regulatory matters, and the development of steady revenue streams to advance robust broadband network design and services. As each of these intersects with the sovereign rights of tribes, it is possible to conceptualize sociotechnical dimensions to future exercises of tribal sovereignty.
- Information science