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At White House Tribal Nations Summit, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg Announces New Actions to Support Better, Safer Infrastructure in Indian Country

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

WASHINGTON – Last week, as part of the second Tribal Nations Summit under the Biden-Harris Administration, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced a slate of actions to build on USDOT’s ongoing work to deliver infrastructure funding to Indian Country. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure package, signed into law one year ago, includes $13 billion specifically for Tribal communities and unprecedented opportunities for competitive grant funding to carry out projects.

“After decades of harmful underinvestment in infrastructure, we now have a tremendous opportunity to modernize transportation in Tribal communities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We’re proud to team up with Tribal leaders to announce important steps to improve roads, bridges, aviation, ports, transit, electric vehicle infrastructure, and transportation safety in Tribal communities now and in the years ahead.”

During the first day of the Summit, Secretary Buttigieg announced:

  • Regional Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) Agreements: DOT’s Federal Highway Administration has re-established six regional centers and will fund a seventh—replacing a single, centralized location—that will assist Tribal communities as they draw upon billions of dollars in funding to modernize their roads, bridges, and more. The regional centers will provide training, technical assistance, and technology services that meet the diverse geographical, topographic and climate conditions across Indian Country. TTAP centers complement other DOT technical assistance resources designed to support Tribal, rural and disadvantaged communities. TTAP centers, and the critical nature of this assistance, was a central topic of discussion at all three tribal roundtables Secretary Buttigieg hosted in November with Pueblo Governors and Apache leaders in New Mexico, with Navajo leaders in Navajo Nation, and with Hopi leaders in Hopi Nation.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Initiative for Tribal Nations:  DOT is one of 10 Federal agencies supporting the Biden Administration’s EV initiative to ensure that Tribal Nations and Native communities are part of the EV future of the country. This includes mapping the proposed deployment of EV infrastructure; prioritizing projects that serve rural and underserved areas, including Tribal lands and communities; supporting Tribal Nations’ roles in the EV battery supply chain; releasing a new toolkit that will provide Tribes the information they need to start planning and implementing EV infrastructure projects; and more.
  • Tribal Transit Symposium: DOT will host its first-ever Tribal Transit Symposium, which will be held in 2023. This symposium will provide Tribes the opportunity to meet with Federal Transit Administration leadership; receive technical assistance; learn about funding opportunities under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; and learn about the Tribal Transit Program, which funds planning, capital, and operating assistance for Tribal public transit services.
  • Tribal Aviation Symposium: DOT, with the Federal Aviation Administration, will host the second Tribal Aviation Symposium in 2023. This symposium will be open to all 574 Federally Recognized Tribes and will cover grant applications, Tribal access to airports, commercial seaplane access, drone usage, and Tribal youth engagement and education. 
  • Tribal Maritime Roundtable: DOT’s Maritime Administration will host its first-ever Tribal Maritime Roundtable in 2023 to update Tribes on the Port Infrastructure Development Program, the America’s Marine Highway Program, and workforce development opportunities in the maritime sector.
  • Improving Highway Safety in Indian Country: Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives. DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is leading a multi-agency effort to address highway safety in Indian Country and in 2023, NHTSA will expand the initiative. This campaign will bring awareness to the higher rates of fatal crashes in Indian Country and will include safety strategies for Tribes. 

The announcements came on the first day of the two-day summit, which President Biden hosted in order to, among other things, help foster Nation-to-Nation relationships and advance an economic agenda that includes historic levels of funding specifically for Tribal communities and Native people, including $32 billion in the American Rescue Plan, $13 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and $700 million in the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Additional information: 

White House: Fact sheet on the Tribal Nations Summit announcements.

USDOT: How the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers for Tribal Nations.