The chronically underfunded infrastructure needs of Indian Country take center stage today at the House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States hearing.
As Martin Harvier, President of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, states in written testimony to be delivered at Thursday’s hearing:
“There is inadequate funding to meet the basic maintenance needs of our current roads, let alone the funding necessary to support a robust 21st century transportation system. The highest priority for our community is paving the 52 miles of dirt roads which serve our members. Based on current funding levels it will take approximately 59 years to pave these roads.”
Meanwhile, Darrell Seki, Sr., Chairman of the Red Lake Nation, will testify that Red Lake’s relatively large and remote 840,000-acre reservation, home to 12,000 Tribal members, is plagued with poor roads, unreliable communication systems and other infrastructure issues that incumber public safety services, economic development and employment opportunities. Seki underscores the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) failure to assist Red Lake in repairing its inadequate public safety buildings and crumbling Tribal road systems.
“Red Lake has lost $6 million under the MAP-21 and FAST Act, plus $4.5 million under the previous highway bill, for a combined loss of $10.5 million since 2004 in road construction funding. Yet this formula manipulation continues to be used by the BIA, despite repeated demonstrations by Red Lake and other Tries of the gross inequities it is causing,” he states in written testimony to be delivered today.
The third witness at today’s 2 p.m. Eastern hearing at the Longworth House Office Building is Mr. LeRoy Gishi Chief, Division of Transportation Office of Indian Services Bureau of Indian Affairs Department of Interior Washington, D.C.
As Native Business Magazine‘s March “Infrastructure” issue explores, substandard road conditions on reservations across the United States impact the quality of life for Tribal citizens and inhibit the economic development and self-determination of Tribal Nations. Infrastructure drives and accelerates economic development, and opens doors to outside investment and business partnerships that provide reservation jobs. Without infrastructure, Tribal communities are unable to thrive and money “leaks” off reservations, and border towns often capture the revenues.