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IPFS News Link • Native American

How did a Native American reservation become a drone delivery trailblazer?

• by Jack Daleo

As James Grimsley walked to high school through the small town of Atoka, he had no choice other than to take in the natural beauty — rolling hills, evergreen trees, big blue skies.

Atoka, a town of 3,000 tucked away within the Choctaw Nation reservation in Oklahoma, is still the place Grimsley calls home more than three decades later. But today, hidden within the 11,000-square-mile parcel of land, is one of the largest drone delivery testing sites in the world.

"Here, in rural southeastern Oklahoma, on a reservation, we have a front-row seat to what the future of that technology is going to look like," Grimsley told Modern Shipper. "We're seeing systems fly for the first time. We're seeing these operations happen here that will probably be commonplace in the future, but they're not commonplace now."

Life on the reservation

For as long as Grimsley can remember, life on the reservation was tough. During the Trail of Tears ethnic cleansing campaign from 1831 to 1850, the Choctaw people were the first to be forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands, which covered parts of current-day Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Arkansas.