WHEREAS, transportation infrastructure on Indian reservations, Tribal territories and in Alaska Native Villages is inadequate and unsafe; and
WHEREAS, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Native American infants are eight times more likely to die in a vehicle-related crash than non-Native infants, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury for Native American adults; and
WHEREAS, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that 3 out of 4 deaths in motor vehicle crashes on reservations, the individuals were not wearing seat belts; and
WHEREAS, federal appropriations for the Tribal Transportation Program (TTP), Tribal Transit Program, BIA Indian Highway Safety Program, TTP Safety Fund Grant program, and BIA Road Maintenance Program are wholly inadequate to address the documented unmet Tribal transportation infrastructure, transit and highway safety needs; and
WHEREAS, these unmet tribal needs perpetuate transportation barriers for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIANs), undermine the efforts by tribal governments to address continuing disparities between the general population and Native communities as concerns access to higher education, public safety, health services and economic opportunity, and limit the ability of tribal governments, as “public authorities,” to meaningfully collaborate with federal, state and other local governments regarding transportation infrastructure, transit, and roadway safety needs; and
WHEREAS, many of the FAST Act’s discretionary and competitive grant programs, such as the TIGER grant program and Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program (INFRA), do not have tribal set-asides to ensure that Indian tribes can favorably compete, and contain burdensome local match and other application requirements, such as cost-benefit analysis studies, that severely limit the benefits of such federal programs to Indian Country; and
WHEREAS, the Congress has long recognized that roads promote economic development and help tribal nations provide vital governmental services, which are essential for healthy, vibrant and stable tribal communities; and
WHEREAS, the Tribal Transportation Unity Caucus (TTUC), a coalition of Indian tribes, nations and Alaska villages and tribal advocates, in anticipation of the Administration and Congress introducing a multi-year infrastructure plan during the 115th Congress, have prepared a discussion draft bill – the “John P. Smith Tribal Road Safety and Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2018” – that expands Federal transportation programs serving tribal nations, reduces burdensome regulations, improves BIA recordkeeping relating to rights-of-way, provides innovative financing tools for tribes and seeks increased federal appropriations for tribal transportation infrastructure, transit, and safety needs; and
WHEREAS, to address the disparities in infrastructure, equipment, and resources that exist between the Tribal nations and State and local governments, Tribes, as public authorities, must advocate before Congress and the Administration for direct Federal investment in transportation and transit programs required to meet the needs of our Tribal citizens consistent with the Federal government’s trust responsibility to all the Indian Nations and peoples; and
WHEREAS, Tanana Tribal Council, having reviewed the TTUC draft bill and finding its provisions and finding it beneficial.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Tanana Chiefs Conference Full Board of Directors hereby declare its support for the Tribal Transportation Unity Caucus discussion draft bill, the “John P. Smith Tribal Road Safety and Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2018,” and urges Congress and the Administration to include its provisions in a nation infrastructure measure to establish greater parity between the Tribal nations and State and local governments so that Tribes can address the ongoing unmet transportation, transit and highway safety needs of our citizens and residents.
Submitted by: Tanana Tribal Council
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