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USDOT, Cherokee Nation Sign First Ever Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Compact

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Compact gives Cherokee Nation autonomy in planning and funding transportation priorities

USDOT, Cherokee Nation Sign First Ever Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Compact

Photo provided by Cherokee Nation

Tahlequah, OKLAHOMA - On Tuesday, U.S. Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Transportation, joined Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. of the Cherokee Nation to sign the first compact under the Department’s Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Program (TTSGP). The approval gives the Tribe the ability to plan and oversee its own road construction planning and transit projects without having to seek federal permission.

“We’re proud to stand today with the Cherokee Nation to announce this first of its kind Self-Governance Compact. It gives the Tribe much-deserved decision-making authority and flexibility over federal funds for transportation projects that can improve safety and create better connections across Cherokee Nation,” said Deputy Secretary Trottenberg. “The Biden-Harris Administration and our Department are firmly committed to honoring Tribal sovereignty and codifying Tribes’ right to self-determination through agreements like this one.”

“We are honored to have U.S. Deputy Transportation Secretary Trottenberg visit the Cherokee Nation, which has led a sophisticated transportation program for several years helping our tribal communities, state and federal partners with safer, well-maintained roadways in the reservation,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Having oversight for the first time to plan, lead and oversee the finance of our own road projects will only mean more and better investments in terms of travel and infrastructure in the Cherokee Nation to the benefit of thousands of citizens.”

The TTSGP affords more control, flexibility, and decision-making authority to Tribes that choose to participate over Federal funds used to carry out transportation projects and activities in their communities. The signing is the culmination of several months of dialogue between USDOT and the Cherokee Nation. This program, which DOT established in 2020, follows the model that the Departments of the Interior and Health and Human Services have set forth with their Tribal Self-Governance programs, which have been in place for the last two decades.

As part of a visit to Cherokee Nation on Tuesday, Deputy Secretary Trottenberg also visited road safety projects as well as EV initiatives that the tribe has undertaken. The Cherokee Nation built one of the first solar canopies in Oklahoma at its headquarters in Tahlequah, which is used to charge Cherokee Nation’s electric fleet vehicles.