The Great Plain Tribal Chairman’s Association supports the original purpose of the Indian Reservations Roads (IRR) Program to fund BIA and Tribal roads that primarily benefit Indian populations of Indian Reservations and other eligible Indian communities.
WHEREAS, the Great Plains (formerly Aberdeen Area) Tribal Chairman’s Association (GPTCA) is composed of the elected Chairs and Presidents of the 16 Sovereign Indian Tribal Nations recognized by Treaties with the United States that are within the Great Plains Region of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and
WHEREAS, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association was formed to promote the common interests of the Sovereign Indian Tribal Nations and their members of the Great Plains Region which comprises the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska; and
WHEREAS, through its treaties, statutes, Constitution, international law, and well articulated policies, the United States has a trust responsibility and has pledged to protect Indian Tribes, guarantee the right of Tribal self-government, protection and safety, and to promote the viability of Indian Reservations and lands as permanent homelands for Tribes; and
WHEREAS, under legislation adopted in August 2005 entitled “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users” (commonly referred to as SAFETEA-LU), the federal government currently provides funds through the Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) Program of approximately $450 million dollars to Tribes to plan, construct, and, under certain circumstances, maintain roads and highways of federally recognized Indian Tribes of the United States; and
WHEREAS, 25 C.F.R. Part 170 establishes a controversial formula that distributes available funds through a “tribal shares” process to tribal roads programs that is based upon Cost To Construct (CTC), Vehicles Miles Traveled (VMT), and Population Adjustment Factor (PAF) when applied to the official miles and characteristics of the approved roads inventory of each Tribe; and
WHEREAS, the critical issue in the distribution of funds is the uncontrolled inclusion of state, county, and other road ownership categories into the inventory of Tribes that are improperly allowed to generate funding at 100% for each mile of those roads in the inventory; and
WHEREAS, most state and county roads included in the roads inventory are allowed to generate funding at 100% despite the clear legal obligation of the state and county governments to provide construction, reconstruction and maintenance funds for such roads; and
WHEREAS, Final Regulations published in the Federal Register on July 19, 2004 in Appendix C of Subpart C for 25 C.F.R. Part 170 specifically provides in Question 10 that roads on the Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) inventory do not generate funds at 100% unless specific criteria are met and the Bureau of Indian Affairs has wholly failed to properly implement those limitations, including the requirement that most non-BIA or non-Tribal roads do not generate 100% IRR funding except as part of an approved project involving tribal government and non-tribal government agreements as provided in Title 23 of the U. S. Code and Part 170 of Title 25 Code of Federal Regulations; and
WHEREAS, in 2004 approximately 75% of the IRR road miles were either BIA or Tribal roads that primarily served tribal lands and tribal citizens; and
WHEREAS, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has arbitrarily and capriciously misinterpreted or mal-administered Part 170 so that state, county, and other roads now represent roughly 78% of the IRR inventory and generate funding at 100% in violation of federal highway law and regulations and contrary to the purposes of the Indian Reservation Roads Program; and
WHEREAS, the result of the BIA’s actions has been to divert scarce federal Indian Reservation Roads Program funds from BIA and Tribal roads primarily serving Reservations and tribal communities that have no alternative sources of funding to state and county roads primarily serving non-Indian populations for which those governments have other available funding mechanisms and a legal responsibility for those roads; and
WHEREAS, the net result of the misallocation and diversion of Indian Reservation Roads funds from Tribes with the greatest needs such as the large land Tribes has been to create serious issues of safety on tribal Reservations due to deferred construction, reconstruction, and maintenance caused by lack of funds that should be available for such purposes; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in October 2008 adopted Resolution #PHX-08-12 that recognized “the data that is used in the distribution formula to allocate funds to the various Tribal nations, including road inventory information, is often incomplete, inconsistent or inaccurate”: and
WHEREAS, the NCAI Resolution further states “many Tribal Nations have urged the BIA to issue new regulations reflecting a formula that more closely matches the purpose of the IRR program”; and
WHEREAS, the NCAI Resolution provides “the result of the inconsistent application of the formula, insufficient or bad data, and road inventories that are not primarily used by the citizens of Tribal Nations, has been inconsistent amounts of funding levels for road programs for Tribal Nations, and this creates financial and other difficulties in planning for road maintenance and construction of roads that are vital to each Tribal Nation’s future”; and
WHEREAS, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has wholly failed to address the critical issues with effective legislative, administrative, or legal actions to correct the problems it created; and
WHEREAS, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has abdicated its trust responsibility to provide for the protection and safety of Tribal Reservation residents by allowing the diversion of funds intended for tribal populations to state and county governments to primarily benefit non-Indian populations.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association does hereby support the continued inclusion of the Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) Program in any new or reauthorized Federal Highway legislation with appropriate formula changes to assure that proper levels of funding are directed to BIA and Tribal Roads to fulfill the purposes of the IRR program; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association does hereby request the Bureau of Indian Affairs to strictly interpret Question 10 of Appendix C of Subpart C to 25 C.F.R. Part 170 so that only those state, county, or other roads that can affirmatively demonstrate compliance with one of the three (3) exceptions set forth in Question 10 shall be eligible to generate IRR funding at 100% pending further legislative or regulatory action and non-compliant roads shall either be removed immediately from the Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) Program or shall generate funds at the appropriate non-federal or federal share; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association does hereby support language in any new legislation or regulation regarding the Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) Program that provides for a relative needs funding formula (such as existed prior to July 19, 2004) that primarily funds BIA and Tribal roads and that primarily benefit tribal populations; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Bureau of Indian Affairs shall have the continued responsibility to plan for and request adequate separate funding to provide for proper maintenance of eligible BIA and tribal roads; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association urges that this issue is a matter of extreme urgency and declares the matter an emergency since BIA and tribal roads continue to be severely under-funded due to the BIA’s misinterpretation of the law and regulations; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this Resolution shall be the official position of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association unless it subsequently shall be withdrawn or amended.
Resolution No. 20-11-17-09
This resolution was enacted at a duly called Quarterly meeting of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association held at Rapid City, South Dakota, on November, 17, 2009, at which a quorum was present, with 8 members voting in favor, 0 members opposed, 0 members abstaining, and 8 members not present.
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