Every year, the Blandin Foundation does an assessment of how the Blandin Broadband Communities projects. Here’s the update from Grizzlies (Bois Forte, Cook, Orr)…
North Woods School is home of the Grizzlies; and was opened in 2012 when the schools in Cook, Orr and Bois Forte were consolidated — which is how “Grizzlies” became the name for the IRBC effort within the school district’s boundaries.
Broadband access and use are both key concerns for this sparsely populated area. The region’s long-standing efforts to partner with existing providers began to pay off in 2020 when Bois Forte Tribal Government received Border-to-Border Broadband grant funding to connect ten unserved and 468 underserved locations throughout four sectors of the Bois Forte Reservation (details on page 41).
Other first round projects that address both access and use included adding public hotspots to the Cook Library and the Orr Center; upgrading computer labs in Nett Lake, the Orr Center, and at the Cook Library; purchasing five mobile hotspots for checkout at the Cook Library; and hosting a wide variety of technology trainings throughout the three communities.
For the second round, the Grizzlies are continuing with adult education classes and technology support at the Orr Center and the Cook Library, and will expand on the QuickBooks training classes that were offered to small business owners during round one. A project emerged in spring of 2020 to help at-risk residents with social distancing by helping the local grocery store set-up an online ordering system.
The Bois Forte Reservation acknowledges that its heritage, language, and culture are at risk. To help preserve and document for future generations existing cultural knowledge and practices the tribe will use second round project funds to establish a video creation, collection and archiving program of culturally relevant materials.
Finally, when looking at project ideas to unite the three communities that now share a school, the IRBC team agreed that creating a sports blog and website would fulfill that goal. Students and community members will help design and contribute content to the site, which will include a journalism education component. Plans for the site include
development of video and radio broadcasting capability through Bois Forte Reservation’s KBFT Radio. A related but separate project extended the school’s Wi-Fi to the athletic fields surrounding the building.