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Transportation infrastructure is key to Native economic growth

Marchand, 02 Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (Michael E., “The Need for Tribal Participation in Transportation Policy”, September, TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH CIRCULAR Number E-C039, Conference on Transportation Improvements: Experiences Among Tribal, Local, State, and Federal Governments, SW)

For me, the backbone for development is transportation systems, resources, and labor. You have to have all these ingredients, but the real backbone for everything is the transportation system. Many tribes are lucky: they have a system that is useable. Other tribes maybe have some of their needs met, although probably most do not. If you have the world’s most beautiful tourist resort spot in the world, it is not going to do you a lot of good if you cannot get a road to it or if you have tribal allotments scattered over a 1,000 mi 2 . If you cannot dig the roads and get anyone to work, that will not help you. Roads are critical. This is where the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) comes in. Most tribes are still relatively undeveloped, so most tribes still do not have their infrastructure in place. We have a real opportunity as tribes to do things right. The tribes really need to spend some time figuring out what they want. I was raised with everyone saying, “We need more jobs, we need more businesses, and we need to make more money.” I have spent most of my life doing that, and I know how to do that. I have started multimillion-dollar businesses. We have these things going, and we are figuring out how to do those things, but we need to step back and ask, “Where is this all taking us? Where do we really want to go?” I do not think that we have done enough of that kind of thing; at least our tribe has not.

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