Home Skip to main content

USDOT Awards Funding to NDSU for Tribal Transportation Outreach

Posted: Oct 26, 2022

North Dakota State University will head a consortium that includes South Dakota State University, Montana State University, and the University of Wyoming in providing transportation outreach and technical assistance to tribes across the Upper Great Plains and Intermountain West.

As part of its Tribal Technical Assistance Program, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded a grant with a potential value of $2,250,000 during the next five years to the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at NDSU to create the Northern Tribal Technical Assistance Program. The program will work with American Indian tribal governments to build tribal capacity in program management, grow the tribal workforce, cultivate and coordinate partnerships, facilitate technology transfer and the implementation of innovations, and share results of similar initiatives across the country. The work will be conducted in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The initial grant is for just over $600,000 for two years with the potential for extensions and expansion over the next five years.

"Our focus will be to engage with the tribes to learn their needs and address those needs," UGPTI Director Denver Tolliver said. "The vision for this program nationally is to build capacity for tribes to administer and manage their own transportation programs and systems. That approach describes what we're already doing in our existing outreach."

Tolliver noted that, "Partners in each of these states in the region puts us closer to each of the tribes and makes this effort much more cost effective." The Northern Tribal Technical Assistance Center will serve the BIA's Rocky Mountain and Great Plains Regions, which includes Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

The funds will be shared by the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University, South Dakota State University, and the University of Wyoming. Each of those universities, along with NDSU/UGPTI, already have an FHWA-funded Local Technical Assistance Program that provides transportation outreach to local units of government. That background and experience in transportation outreach will be invaluable to the tribal effort, Tolliver says.

Ron Hall, UGPTI's Tribal Transportation Program Manager, notes that the tribes have organized themselves regionally. "We plan to work with existing tribal networks that will allow us to cluster priorities and identify where the needs are and focus resources accordingly," he said. Hall notes there is considerable expertise within the collaborating universities focused on rural roads, rural road safety, and other transportation issues faced by tribes. "Lining up expertise with priorities will be pretty straightforward. The key will be making connections and building relationships."

Hall, who joined UGPTI earlier this year, has an extensive background and expertise in tribal relations related to transportation infrastructure, cultural resource management, and workforce development and is recognized as a national expert in Native American transportation law and policy. Hall was previously director of the Tribal Technical Assistance Program at Colorado State University and recently joined UGPTI to direct its tribal outreach programs.

"Going into tribal lands and helping tribes with their roads and their equipment is essential to success. Face-to-face is key," noted Dale Heglund, director of UGPTI's North Dakota Technical Assistance Program. The Local Technical Assistance Programs will work closely with Hall in the new center.

Tolliver noted that the Northern Tribal Technical Assistance Program will also work closely with state departments of transportation in the region to tap expertise within those departments and to help them better integrate tribal transportation networks into their own statewide and regional networks. "The potential impact on transportation in the region and the potential synergies are going to be phenomenal," he said.

Tribes served will include:

In Montana

  • Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation
  • Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation of Montana
  • Chippewa-Cree Indians of the Rocky Boy's Reservation
  • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation
  • Crow Tribe of Montana
  • Fort Belknap Indian Community of the Fort Belknap Reservation of Montana
  • Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians
  • Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation

In Nebraska

  • Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
  • Omaha Tribe of Nebraska
  • Ponca Tribe of Nebraska
  • Sac & Fox Nation of Missouri (Kansas and Nebraska)
  • Santee Sioux Nation
  • Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska

In North Dakota

  • Spirit Lake Tribe
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (North Dakota and South Dakota)
  • Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota

In South Dakota

  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of the Cheyenne River Reservation
  • Crow Creek Sioux Tribe of the Crow Creek Reservation
  • Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota
  • Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of the Lower Brule Reservation
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe (previously listed as Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation)
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Rosebud Indian Reservation
  • Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation (North Dakota and South Dakota)
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (North Dakota and South Dakota)
  • Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota

In Wyoming

  • Northern Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Reservation
  • Eastern Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation
NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050