On Saturday, July 3rd, Cherokee Nation representatives shared via social media that they are working to connect tribe members living in rural communities to SpaceX Starlink Internet. The company is building a constellation of broadband satellites in low Earth orbit that will beam internet globally. To date, SpaceX has launched approximately 1,740 satellites out of over 4,400 that will initially comprise the network. SpaceX founder Elon Musk says that by August Starlink “should have global connectivity in everywhere except the poles” and that they will have “500,000 users within 12 months.” Starlink customers can pre-order the service via Starlink.com. SpaceX is primarily focused on connecting rural and remote communities across the world to the internet; the company is selecting its customers based on their geographic location. As more satellites are deployed, Starlink will be capable of serving more customers.
Cherokee Nation is the largest tribe in the United States with over 390,000 tribal citizens who live around the country and over 141,000 members who reside within the tribe's reservation boundaries in northeastern Oklahoma. Portions of the reservation are located far away from large cities so people receive low-quality signal from terrestrial internet infrastructures. The Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit can provide more reliable service. “As part of a pilot project to continue the tribe's effort to better connect Cherokees to affordable, high speed internet, Cherokee Nation has begun installing Starlink to rural areas starting with our Cherokee speaking elders in the Belfonte Community,” Cherokee Nation representatives announced in a Facebook post. “Some of the first to receive the internet system was Cherokee speakers Jack and Brenda Bush. The Bushes missed out on many telehealth appointments this year due to a poor internet connection. Now, with Starlink, they have access to high speed internet that is allowing them to connect like never before,” they shared. “Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Cherokee Nation Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner visited with the Bushes by Zoom [video] call on Tuesday to test out the connection, which was their first ever video chat. This pilot project is the first of what the Cherokee Nation hopes to expand to serve other unserved or underserved areas across the reservation,” the representative stated.
Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. shared a photograph of the Bush family that was connected to SpaceX’s Starlink Internet network last week, pictured below. “Major broadband push on the Cherokee Nation rez [reservation]. We’re closing gaps, starting with our fluent speakers living in remote areas. My hands-on Chief of Staff Todd Enlow hooked up the Bush family in the Belfonte community via SpaceX Starlink. Zoomed [video called] with them last Tuesday,” Hoskin said via Twitter.
Major #broadband push on the @CherokeeNation rez. We’re closing gaps, starting with our fluent speakers living in remote areas. My hands-on Chief of Staff Todd Enlow hooked up the Bush family in the Belfonte community via @SpaceX #Starlink. Zoomed with them last Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/cpXeGrZc6J— Chuck Hoskin, Jr. (@ChuckHoskin_Jr) July 3, 2021
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