TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation has been awarded $971,000 from the Department of Homeland Security in a first-ever Tribal Cybersecurity Grant.

More than $18 million in total was awarded to 32 tribes through the Tribal Cybersecurity Grant Program, which is empowering tribal nations to stay focused on cybersecurity and digital threats.

“This award will help reinforce our digital sovereignty and strengthen our digital infrastructure,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Keeping our information safe and addressing cybersecurity concerns will only become more important in this century, so a unified approach through cybersecurity grants like this will make everyone in Indian country more resilient.”

Cherokee Nation will use the funding opportunity to further invest into cybersecurity initiatives such as governance, planning and assessment, workforce development and management administration. A cybersecurity steering committee, which oversaw the grant application, will continue to develop a strategic plan for grant funding.       

“This award is an acknowledgment from the federal government of the criticality of the services we provide across the Reservation,” said Chief Information Officer Paula Starr. “We will be able to strengthen our cybersecurity posture, providing better protections for services to Cherokee citizens. As we grow as a tribal nation, our threat landscape grows, as well. Providing protections for that growth is critical.”

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and DHS announced the grant funding awards.

“For far too long, Tribal Nations have faced digital and cybersecurity threats without the resources necessary to build resilience,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in a press release. “The Department of Homeland Security’s first-ever Tribal Cybersecurity Grant Program awards announced [recently] – made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – will help tribes and tribal communities ensure they have the tools to assess risks, implement solutions, and increase cyber defenses.”