Title

Access to and Affordability of Transportation on the Fort Belknap Reservation and Its Impact on the Local Economy and Quality of Life

Presenter Information

Jayme Fraser

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

It’s difficult to get to work without a car, or to afford the drive to a doctor’s appointment three hours away as gas prices rise. It’s simple challenges like these that can help perpetuate poverty and lackluster economies in rural America and on rural reservations where unique legal and land issues, too, create barriers for business growth. Many stories been researched and written about the land and political issues that plague Native economies, but the geography of Montana’s reservations and proximity to other urban areas, too, have shaped the economy and subsequently the quality of life for Natives in the state. Yet, even as non-profits and tribal governments work to improve public transportation, those solutions could just perpetuate an economic divide as paychecks can more easily be spent at existing off-reservation businesses rather than that money being reinvested in the tribal economy. My research focuses on how access to and affordability of transportation has impacted the economy and overall quality of life on Montana’s Fort Belknap reservation in the last half century. I’ll also compare the relevant indicators with neighboring off-reservation communities such as Harlem, Malta and Havre to better understand if my findings about Fort Belknap are unique to the reservation, or simply parallel to other rural Montana towns. I choose the Fort Belknap reservation because of its isolated location in rural Montana where population density averages just two people per square mile, yet is a short commute to more urban services in Havre and Great Falls. Also, a non-profit/government partnership launched several major public transportation initiatives beginning in 2007 that have generated a handful of studies on ridership and the local economy that will be a fruitful contemporary point of comparison.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 13th, 10:40 AM Apr 13th, 11:00 AM

Access to and Affordability of Transportation on the Fort Belknap Reservation and Its Impact on the Local Economy and Quality of Life

UC 333

It’s difficult to get to work without a car, or to afford the drive to a doctor’s appointment three hours away as gas prices rise. It’s simple challenges like these that can help perpetuate poverty and lackluster economies in rural America and on rural reservations where unique legal and land issues, too, create barriers for business growth. Many stories been researched and written about the land and political issues that plague Native economies, but the geography of Montana’s reservations and proximity to other urban areas, too, have shaped the economy and subsequently the quality of life for Natives in the state. Yet, even as non-profits and tribal governments work to improve public transportation, those solutions could just perpetuate an economic divide as paychecks can more easily be spent at existing off-reservation businesses rather than that money being reinvested in the tribal economy. My research focuses on how access to and affordability of transportation has impacted the economy and overall quality of life on Montana’s Fort Belknap reservation in the last half century. I’ll also compare the relevant indicators with neighboring off-reservation communities such as Harlem, Malta and Havre to better understand if my findings about Fort Belknap are unique to the reservation, or simply parallel to other rural Montana towns. I choose the Fort Belknap reservation because of its isolated location in rural Montana where population density averages just two people per square mile, yet is a short commute to more urban services in Havre and Great Falls. Also, a non-profit/government partnership launched several major public transportation initiatives beginning in 2007 that have generated a handful of studies on ridership and the local economy that will be a fruitful contemporary point of comparison.