U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with tribal leaders in Albuquerque, NM last week to discuss roadway safety in tribal communities, infrastructure investments, and how the Biden administration can work with Indigenous communities.
Leaders shared their concerns and frustrations about lack of funding, and increased traffic, which is causing faster wear and tear to roads and highways.
Former Governor of Laguna Pueblo Richard Luarkie says the department has provided resources, but stressed it’s no longer enough.
“The consideration for the formal use to determine how much funding tribe receive definitely needs to be revisited, because as you’re hearing from the rest of the leadership here, it’s not enough.”
Charles Riley, who spoke on behalf of Acoma Pueblo, says there are many challenges when it comes to applying for funding.
“Many of our tribes here in the United States do not have the resources or expertise to apply for these grants.”
The concerns for an increase in traffic going through Pueblo communities has contributed to crimes, says All Pueblo Council of Governors chair Mark Mitchell.
He says that while the Pueblo’s economy has benefited from increased transit, it has also caused more problems.
“Our enterprises and small businesses have benefited from the increased transit through our community. However, our communities also have seen rise in safety concerns as well. Dangerous activities like drug and human trafficking have found their way into our communities at an alarming rate.”
Buttigieg says he’s aware of how difficult it is to combat issues with infrastructure.
“I will candidly just say as a mayor who maintained roads and did battles with pothole and other maintenance issues for a living before I came into this role, I do know how you do it with the formula dollars for maintaining the number of lane loud roads that exist out there and take to heart the point that you’re raising that has been raised many times over about the issue of formula funds.”
The secretary committed to working with tribes.
The Center for Rural Affairs is launching new Makerspaces on two Nebraska Indian Community College campuses in Macy and Santee for making, learning, exploring, and sharing.
Eric Galatas has more.
The Makerspaces will include traditional, low-tech tools, and also significant investments in cutting-edge technologies.
Among other tools available to students and tribal members, Kristine Flyinghawk with the Center’s native communities program is especially excited to install a Glowforge.
“It can engrave and cut anything from wood to leather to glass. And then we have the new Cricut Maker 3, which can make up to a 12 foot vinyl sign. We will have a sublimation printer.”
Flyinghawk explains that a sublimation printer can print images on just about anything, from cups to cozies to keychains.
The Center also will install a T-shirt press, a sticker and button maker, a sewing machine, an embroidering machine, and a quilting machine.
Workshops will help people get hands-on experience with each new tool.
The Makerspace also aims to facilitate experimentation, where people can test out new ideas for a side hustle or a full-on business.
Angelina Magerl with the Center says financial support and expert guidance for creating a business plan will also be available to help people realize their goals.
“It gives you that step-by-step process in seeing what realistically – like time-wise, money-wise – what you can do. With a business plan, it kind of lays it all out for you, what needs to be done, and what the outcome is of having accomplished that in your plan.”
Flyinghawk says in addition to workshops the MakerSpace will also offer open hours, where folks can spend time with people from all ages and walks of life, to share skills and learn traditions that have been passed down.
“They can still come and bring their beadwork, or whatever kind of project that they are working on, if they want to work in a shared space with others and have that fellowship and community.”
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