Broadband, better communication key
3:33 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

U.S.D.A. Official Meets With Wisconsin Tribes

Leslie Wheelock, Office of Tribal Relations, U.S.D.A.
Leslie Wheelock, Office of Tribal Relations, U.S.D.A.
Credit Ken Hammond-U.S.D.A.

A top official says she hopes to create a better dialog between tribal governments in Wisconsin and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Tribal Relations Director Leslie Wheelock met in Mole Lake with tribal representatives and organizations in the region under the U.S.D.A. umbrella.

She says they want to get the word out about what they have to offer concerning economic development and a host of programs. She says that communication is one of the most difficult parts of her job as she has to get the word out to 566 tribal governments on all issues.....

 

"....it's very difficult to get all that information not necessarily to the tribal leaders office, but to the tribal leaders office an to a person in the tribe who can respond to whatever it is that's being issued....."

Wheelock says the feds would like to dump the expensive paper trail coming out of Washington, D.C., but the lack of high-speed internet in many parts of rural America is slowing that move...

".....rural America is underserved in areas of broadband, the American Indian nations as well are installing their own broadband that they have paid for. In some cases they have put in broadband facilities with (Recovery Act) funds from a few years ago...."

She says farming and tourism are two industries that would greatly benefit by having better broadband in rural areas. She says if they can figure out how to bridge that gap to the tribal governments, they will also be helping all of rural America. U.S.D.A. is a primary funder for broadband.