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Federal agencies collaborate to better assist tribal communities

Federal agencies collaborate to better assist tribal communities

In a June 2013 Executive Order establishing the White House Council on Native American Affairs, President Obama said that strengthening our partnership with tribal governments is a necessary part of forging a brighter future for all Americans. And today, I was proud to attend the first meeting of the Council with Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs Joanna Turner.

Connecting DOT's investments with those of other Federal agencies will really help the Tribal Nations leverage U.S. assistance for greater impact.

Photo of road work on Jicarilla Apache lands

We know from other partnerships with our sister agencies, that when it comes to meeting challenges, a coordinated approach is a better approach. Whether it's the White House Rural Council or the inter-agency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, combining our efforts and resources is simply a more efficient way to get things done. So at DOT, we're happy to join our efforts to improve transportation in Indian Country with the work of other Federal agencies.

DOT has already been hard at work helping develop locally-supported transportation projects that connect tribal communities with opportunity.

For example, DOT's newly named Tribal Transportation Program (formerly the Indian Reservation Roads Program) provides $450 million in grants each year for tribes to develop safe transportation and public road access to and within their lands. And to help Tribal governments reduce fatality and injury rates on their roads, we're proud to announce the availability this week of $8.6 million in Tribal Transportation Safety Funds to help reduce those rates.

DOT also manages a Tribal Transit Program that helps tribal communities build and operate public transit programs and services. Under the latest transportation bill, MAP-21, funding for this program doubled to $30 million per year.

Photo of a Lummi Transit vehicle at a bus stop

In addition to those programs, we have awarded eight TIGER grants since 2009 for projects in Indian Country from Alaska to Florida. Those grants add up to nearly $53 million in support of better transportation and stronger economic competitiveness.

Combined, these commitments have been transformative, providing a critical lifeline to men, women, and children who are often geographically and economically isolated. They're helping residents of tribal communities get access to jobs and schools, to medical care, and to other basic services that most Americans take for granted.

Now, thanks to the President's Executive Order and the new White House Council on Native American Affairs, DOT can do even better by leveraging our efforts together with the efforts of other Federal agencies to help tribes build and sustain their communities.

And we're looking forward to it.

Anthony Foxx is the 17th U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

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$450 Million is not enough funding to address all of the unmet transportation needs of the 565 plus tribes. There needs to be an inventory to be taken of the true need of the tribal communities.
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