Wavalene Saunders, vice chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, told a House subcommittee Wednesday, March 1, 2023, that her tribe faces multiple obstacles to economic development, from lack of infrastructure to difficulty accessing capital. (Photo by Alexis Waiss/Cronkite News)
By Alexis Waiss | Cronkite News
WASHINGTON – The vice chairwoman of the Tohono O’odham Nation told a House panel Wednesday that economic development on her remote reservation is hobbled by everything from a lack of basic infrastructure like roads and water to inadequate capital.
Wavalene Saunders said the Tohono O’odham Nation is typical of tribes in rural areas that suffer from “profound deficits in the availability of basic utilities to provide adequate drinking water, sanitation, and electricity.”
“Utility hookup in rural communities is extremely expensive, creating an often insurmountable barrier to the construction of the buildings from which economic development can take place,” Saunders said in testimony to the Indian and Insular Affairs Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee.