Valerie Fast Horse

Valerie Fast Horse

Director of IT, Coeur d’Alene Tribe

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Biography

Valerie Fast Horse is an enrolled member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe of Idaho and is a descendent of the Okanagan band of Indians of Vernon, British Columbia. Her desire to pursue a technical career began as a result of her assignment to the Information Management Division in the U.S. Army during Desert Storm. This assignment allowed her to experience first-hand the use of technology in dominating the collection, dissemination, and application of information and knowledge, which ultimately led to the defeat of Iraq. The experience left a lasting impression on her and inspired her to pursue a career in the technical arena.

Valerie has been the Director of IT for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe for the past 16 years. As the IT Director she is responsible for leading and managing the tribe’s IT Department, which includes four programs: IT- Government Services, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Red-Spectrum Communications, and KWIS 88.3 FM.

In 2005 she successfully planned, managed and implemented a $2.8 million grant to build a Tribal Community Technology Center and deploy a wireless ISP (Red-Spectrum) bringing broadband services to residents of the Coeur d’Alene Reservation for the first time. More recently in 2015 she completed a $10.2 million fiber-to-the-home project that included construction of 121 route miles of fiber, 1 new wireless tower, and equipment upgrades to 5 existing towers & access points. Through these efforts the Tribe is able to reach over 3,000 homes with either fiber or wireless connections.

Other projects she completed in her spare time include implementing a VoIP network in 2004, and in 2011 launching a new tribally-owned radio station, KWIS 88.3 FM, to provide locally and culturally relevant content for families living on the reservation. Together with her team they use their collective knowledge to move the tribe forward in technology to improve the way tribal people conduct business.

Fast Horse is a former elected tribal leader and served six years as a Tribal Council member. She served as Co-Chair of the Telecommunications & Utility Sub-Committee for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) from 2001 to 2008, and has been an active member of the National Congress of American Indians Telecommunications Committee for over 10 years. She testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on the Status of Telecommunications in Indian Country, and has advocated in numerous forums to improve access to advanced communications in Indian Country. She has been appointed to serve on the FCC-Native Nations Broadband Task Force, which is comprised of elected and appointed leaders from across the Native Nations and senior staff and decision-makers from across the Commission.

In 2011 Valerie was selected as one of the 15 positive female role models nominated for changing the course of history in the state of Idaho and received the Idaho “Women Making History” award by the Boise State Women’s Center.

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