Cherokee Nation is offering free Wi-Fi at 35 drive-up locations throughout its reservation. Cherokee Connect, the tribe’s universal connectivity initiative, is focused on serving as a broadband resource and deploying connectivity that fills the gap for Cherokee households currently lacking internet access.
“As we continue working toward the long-term goal of delivering affordable, reliable broadband, we know there is an urgent need for citizens to safely connect,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “These sites are now available for families to apply for assistance, elders to get access to telehealth and our students to pursue their education. The way we live now depends on our ability to connect. It’s my hope that these sites can bring a sense of comfort to people, while we continue to push forward with our broadband plan and bridge the digital divide that burdens northeast Oklahoma.”
The self-contained, wireless-driven Cherokee Connect technology allows Cherokee citizens to drive up within 100 feet of the signage, remain in their vehicles and connect to the internet, ensuring they are safely socially distanced while completing necessary online tasks. Simply connect to the “Cherokee Connect” network, accept the terms and conditions and then begin browsing the web.
Currently, 26 Cherokee Connect sites are available for public use, and the remaining locations will be complete over the next several weeks. The Cherokee Nation focused on conveniently locating the sites throughout the reservation with a special emphasis on easy access for those living in rural areas. Cherokee Connect locations are available in the following communities:
Adair County: Chewey, Stilwell, Westville
Cherokee County: Hulbert, Tahlequah
Craig County: Vinita, Welch and White Oak
Delaware County: Grove, Jay, Kansas, Kenwood and West Siloam Springs
Mayes County: Adair, Pryor and Salina
Muskogee County: Fort Gibson, Muskogee and Warner
Nowata County: Nowata and South Coffeyville
Rogers County: Catoosa, Chelsea, Claremore and Oologah
Sequoyah County: Roland, Sallisaw and Vian
Tulsa County: Sperry
Washington County: Ochelata and Ramona
“Most of our kids live up the river which is a dead zone. There are kids who have never been on the Internet at home their entire lives,” said Steve Sands, President of the Chewey Community Center, which is slated to get a Cherokee Connect Wi-Fi site. “Now, they can come here and use the Wi-Fi, and see what everyone is doing or stay engaged, and their parents can use it while their kids play.”
The tribe has also launched a new website, connect.cherokee.org, where citizens can find the exact location of a Cherokee Connect site, take a connectivity survey, and learn more about Cherokee Nation’s broadband efforts and federal broadband subsidies for low-income households on tribal lands.