WisDOT Annual Consultation an Opportunity to Talk Transportation with Tribes
By Joe Morey
The annual WisDOT Tribal Consultation Meeting was held Dec. 4 in Black River Falls. LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) member Tweed Shuman and WisDOT Inter-Tribal Task Force (ITTF) Coordinator Agnes Fleming both attended and had the opportunity to meet with State Secretary of Transportation Craig Thompson and other state representatives.
The annual meeting is a consultation with tribal leaders and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) officials from across Wisconsin to discuss transportation issues involving tribal areas, Shuman stated.
“WisDOT is committed to partnership with the 11 Tribal Nations while also helping to enhance safety and connectivity throughout the Tribal landscape,” wrote David Hunt, Communications Manager for WisDot. “A partnership agreement among state, federal and tribal governments has been in place since 2005 and was updated earlier this year. In addition, Gov. Tony Evers signed Executive Order 18, reaffirming the sovereign authority of tribal nations, and Executive Order 59 promoting equity, diversity and inclusion throughout state government. These measures help to demonstrate the importance of cultural understanding and equal opportunity.”
Shuman said at the consultation, he stated his concern with deteriorating tribal road conditions and a general lack of funding to make all of those repairs and maintain our current roads.
“I’d like to see the Tribes be included in General Transportation Aid (GTA) funding that is currently distributed from the state to counties,” Shuman said. He noted that tribal roads receive some funding from the BIA for our tribal road inventory but it’s never enough. As I stated earlier counties receive the GTA while the Tribes are left behind, Shuman went on.
“I’d like to see the state allocate some of our gaming compact dollars given to the state be put towards transportation,” Shuman said. “Use these funds to supplement our tribal roads budget.”
Shuman said he also asked the secretary to look in favor of accepting county-tribal mutual requests for road repair because we are working together and collaborating to share resources which allows our dollars to go much further.
Shuman’s final request was to ask WisDOT to assist the tribe and township in completing a safe crossing at Hwy B at the casino that connects the Town of Hayward bike and pedestrian trail with LCO’s bike and pedestrian trail at the intersection of Hwy B and K.
The WisDOT website states the tribal affairs initiative works exclusively on tribal relations and all transportation related issues affecting tribal communities.
“The United States government has a unique legal relationship with federally recognized Tribal Governments as set forth in the Constitution, treaties, statutes and court decisions. WisDOT has a responsibility and is committed to this unique government-to-government relationship that respects tribal sovereignty and self-determination,” the website notes.
Shuman said he thanked WisDOT for allowing the Tribes to come and meet in person, government-to-government, to allow Tribes to express their transportation issues so our sovereignty is respected and accepted.
Shuman added that LCO has several projects currently submitted for funding on Hwys B and E for mutual funding. These are projects for next spring and summer.