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Pueblo community expands broadband reach and plans renewable power

On the backroads of Santo Domingo Pueblo, standing before an old renovated trading post, Governor Tenorio Senior and Lieutenant Governor Crespin welcomed the newest hub for broadband.

Tribal communities are among the most affected by lack of internet due to their rural locations and inability to find local internet hotspots.

Santo Domingo Pueblo created their own broadband tower during the pandemic with the aim of bringing internet to over 700 homes in the pueblo.

Through the federally-funded Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, Santo Domingo secured $12.7 million that will also fund future projects like using 3D printing to create prototypes of solar panels and antennas, for a planned solar field.

On Thursday, Democratic Senators Martin Heinrich, Ben Ray Luján, and Democratic Congresswoman Teresa Leger-Fernández took a tour.

Outside the trading post was a demonstration of split fiber cable construction, where tribal officials said they will be training tribal members and students to lay and splice fiber.

This summer, five students are interning for the pueblo to learn more about broadband infrastructure. Juan Rosetta is one of them.

“We're learning how to help people, go to their houses, try to make them connected to the internet,” he said.

Avram Pacheco is a Santo Domingo member who is an internet service provider administrator, IT analyst, and bus driver for the community. He says the goal is to create a workforce within the community by creating jobs for tribal members.

“All the training that I've been given, I'm able to give back to the community as well as the interns to try to re-educate our people as to how we can benefit from the network itself,” he said.

The current internet service is free to all Santo Domingo residents provided through an agreement with the Santo Domingo tribal council and the Affordable Connectivity Program, another federal initiative.

Support for this coverage comes from the Thornburg Foundation and KUNM listeners. 

Jeanette DeDios is from the Jicarilla Apache and Diné Nations and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2022 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism, English and Film. She’s a former Local News Fund Fellow. Jeanette can be contacted at jeanettededios@kunm.org or via Twitter @JeanetteDeDios.
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