Yesterday, I was honored to address the National Congress of American Indians. It was well-timed because DOT has just finalized our Tribal Consultation Plan, a detailed plan of actions the agency will take when developing, changing, or implementing policies, programs, or services with tribal implications.
We developed this Plan using input solicited from tribal leaders. By engaging tribes, we have created a comprehensive plan that reaffirms the unique government-to-government relationship we have with Indian tribal governments. This is consistent with the spirit of former President Clinton's remarks when issuing Executive Order 13175 and with President Obama's Memorandum of last November.
Clearly, the best way to reach this goal is to work closely with tribes and tribal leaders:
- Seeking tribal input on important regulations
- Providing timely technical assistance
- Ensuring that tribes are given ample opportunities to compete for grants.
Working together with the people who know those challenges best just makes sense.
One reason I'm optimistic about our partnership is because our work together implementing the Recovery Act has been so successful. Stimulus funds have worked to:
- Resurface roads and improve safety for the Ramah Navajo in New Mexico
- Improve transit access for tribes from Alaska to North Carolina
- Construct a new airport improving access to life-saving medical transport for the Rosebud Sioux in South Dakota
- Revitalize 70% of the roads on the Colville Reservation in Washington
All of these projects are important for improving the mobility and safety of tribal residents, for providing necessary jobs, for energizing essential job retraining, and for stimulating development of new tribally-owned businesses.
Going forward, that is the kind of government-to-government partnership we can easily build on.
And we will.