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Tribal Tech Company Brings WiFi To Powwows

Savannah Maher

Powwow season on the Wind River Reservation kicks off this weekend with the 60th annual Eastern Shoshone Indian Days. This year, for the first time, visitors will have access to WiFi at the event.

Wind River Internet, a branch of Northern Arapaho Tribal Industries, will provide the service for free. Chris Friday, who supervises the company's fiber optics projects, said he hopes visitors will use it to share pictures and videos of the Powwow on social media.

"Here [on the reservation] a lot of people don't have access to that," Friday said. "This will help those people connect with the community and get this event out there, let people know that we're doing big things with the Powwow."

Wind River Internet estimates that around 85 percent of people living on the reservation have regular access to the internet.

Lane Savage, a wireless technician for Wind River Internet, set up the wireless access point on the powwow grounds. He'll also man an informational booth for visitors with questions about accessing the internet and troubleshooting connection issues on their own.

"My goal is to have our reservation be the number one advanced in technology in the entire country," Savage said. "Some people don't see it that way, but I say why can't we be that?"

Wind River Internet will also provide WiFi at the Ethete Celebration Powwow in July and the Northern Arapaho Powwow in August.

Savannah comes to Wyoming Public Media from NPR’s midday show Here & Now, where her work explored everything from Native peoples’ fraught relationship with American elections to the erosion of press freedoms for tribal media outlets. A proud citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, she’s excited to get to know the people of the Wind River reservation and dig into the stories that matter to them.
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