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INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMISSION, NORTH DAKOTA
[Authorized: NDCC Chapter 54-36]

The Indian Affairs Commission was created in 1949 with the membership consisting of the Governor, who acted as chairman, Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor, Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Executive Director of Public Welfare Board (Department of Human Services), the State Health Officer, and the chairman of the Boards of County commissioners from Sioux, Mercer, McLean, McKenzie, Dunn, Rolette, Benson, and Eddy counties (S. L. 1949, Ch. 324).  The Commission selected a member as secretary.

Since 1949 the Indian Affairs Commission has had numerous membership changes.  In 1955 the Director of the State Employment Service (Job Service) was added to the Commission, and also the chairman of the Board of County Commissioners from Mountrail County (S. L. 1955, Ch. 314) and 1959 legislation added the Tribal Chairmen from Standing Rock, Fort Berthold, Fort Totten and Turtle Mountain Indian Reservations (S. L. 1959, Ch. 370).  In 1961 legislation removed the Superintendent of Public Instruction from membership and asked that the Superintendent be a consultant on educational matters to the Commission.   The Commission employed a non-member director and allowed for clerical, professional, and technical support as needed.  Legislation also allowed the Governor to appoint an authorized representative to act as Commission chairman (S. L. 1961, Ch. 332).  In 1963 the Commission began sending a report to the Legislative Assembly on relevant conclusions, findings, proposals, recommendations, or resolutions (S. L. 1963, Ch.346 and 1973, Ch. 403). 

In 1969 the Director of Indian Education within the Department of Public Instruction was appointed to the Indian Affairs Commission and the Commission was encouraged to call on the Business and Industrial Development Department (Economic Development Commission) to serve as a consultant pertaining to the affairs of business and industry (S. L. 1969, Ch. 450). The Commissioner of Agriculture remained on the Commission until 1971 (S.L. 1971, Ch. 507).  Legislation also changed how counties with boundaries adjacent to reservations were represented on the Commission.  A member of the North Dakota County Commissioners Association was chosen to represent each of these counties. Other new members on the Commission included a representative from the League of Cities and three members at large chosen by the Governor, two were required to be of Indian descent.  In 1975 the Commission added one representative chosen by the Tribal Council from each reservation and the presiding officer from each house of the Legislative Assembly appointed a bipartisan representative to serve on the Indian Affairs Commission (S. L. 1975, Ch. 483). The Attorney General was added as a member in 1987 (S. L. 1987, Ch. 643).

There were many changes to the Indian Affairs Commission in 1991. The following members were removed from the Commission: the Attorney General, the Executive Director of Human Services, the State Health Officer, the Director of Job Service, the appointed representative from each reservation, a member of the County Commissioners Association who represented the counties with boundaries adjoining a reservation, the representative from the League of Cities, and the  state senator and state representative selected by the presiding officer of each house of the Legislative Assembly (S. L. 1991, Ch. 602). Members remaining included the tribal reservation chairmen from Standing Rock, Fort Berthold, Fort Totten, and Turtle Mountain and the four members at large appointed by the Governor. Three were required to be of Indian descent and enrolled as a member of a tribe and a voting resident of the state of North Dakota.  As the chairman the Governor, after consulting with the Commission, named an executive director.  Commission meetings were held randomly until 1991 and thereafter met quarterly (S. L. 1991, Ch. 602). A state board for Indian scholarships was established by the Legislature in 1991 consisting of one Native American appointed by the Governor, the Executive Director of Indian Affairs and a designee of the Commissioner of Higher Education (S. L. 1991, Ch. 528). Legislation required that the Director of the Department of Economic Development and Finance (Economic Development Commission) be called on for matters of business and industry (S. L. 1991, Ch. 95).    

The Indian Affairs Commission reorganized in 2007 and added the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation (S. L. 2007, Ch. 476).  Membership included three at large members appointed by the Governor, two of Indian descent who were  enrolled tribal members and state residents,  the chairperson or designee of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Spirit Lake Tribe, the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold Reservation,  Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation.  The Governor or his representative chairs the Commission. 

At creation the purpose of the Commission was to enable the state to prepare and have factual information needed to deal effectively with Indian affairs, provide for aid and the protection of Indians, to prevent undue hardships, assist in integration of Indian citizens into a modern economy and coordinate state, local, and federal programs relating to Indian affairs.  Since then the charge of the Indian Affairs Commission has been to investigate Indian affairs and assemble and make available the facts by tribal, state, and federal agencies,  assist tribal state and federal agencies in developing programs, assist tribal groups in developing increasingly effective institutions of self-government, work for greater understanding and improved relationships between Indians and non-Indians, seek participation in local and state affairs, confer with and coordinate official and agencies of other governmental units and congressional committees with regard to needs and goals,  and encourage and propose agreements and accords between federal,  state and local agencies and tribal governments (S. L. 2009, Ch. 505).

CHRONOLOGY

1949       Creation of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission (S. L. 1949, Ch. 324).

1955       The director of state employment service (job service) and the chairman of the county Board of Commissioners of Mountrail County were added to the Commission membership (S. L. 1955, Ch. 314).

1959       Tribal Chairmen from Standing Rock, Fort Totten, Fort Berthold, and the Turtle Mountain expanded the membership (S. L. 1959, Ch. 370).

1961       The Superintendent of Public Instruction served not as a member but only as a consultant regarding educational matters (S. L. 1961, Ch. 332).

1963       The Legislative Assembly amends North Dakota Century Code relating to proposals or resolutions applicable to the needs of the Commission. Reports were sent annually to the Governor and Secretary of State (S. L. 1963, Ch. 346).

1967       After legislation divided the Department of Agriculture and Labor into two positions, only the Commissioner of Agriculture remained on the Commission (S. L. 1967, Ch. 74). 

1969       Director of Indian Education within the Department of Public Instruction added to the membership of the Commission. The Business and Industrial Development Department (Economic Development Commission) provided consultation on issues of business and industry to the Commission (S. L. 1969, Ch. 450). 

1971       Membership changes included a representative appointed by the Association of County Commissioners, a representative from the League of Cities and two members at large of Indian descent appointed by the Governor (S. L. 1971, Ch. 507).

1975       Commission sent an annual report to the Governor and the Department of Accounts and Purchases (OMB).  The Public Welfare Board was renamed Social Service Board (S. L. 1975, Ch. 466). The Director of the Business and Industrial Development Department provided information on matters involving the Commission (S. L. 1975, Ch. 483).

1981       Name change to Job Service North Dakota replaced the Employment Security Bureau, and Economic Development Commission replaced the Business and Industrial Development Department (S. L. 1981, Ch. 528).

1987       The Attorney General was appointed to the Commission.  Social Service Board name changed to Department of Human Services (S. L. 1987, Ch. 643).

1991       Governor or his representative acted as chairman and the Department of Economic Development and Finance (Economic Development Commission) provided information on business and industrial matters to the Commission (S. L. 1991, Ch. 95). North Dakota State Board of Higher Education requested scholarship funds and staff to administer the Indian scholarship program. Governor appointed four at large members. Tribal Chairmen from each North Dakota reservation served on the Commission (S. L. 1991, Ch. 528). With the consultation of the Commission, the Governor appointed an Executive Director (S. L. 1991, Ch. 602).

1995       Reports submitted to the Governor and the Secretary of State (S. L. 1995, Ch. 350).

2003       Creation of a revolving printing fund which helped in defraying the cost of distribution of informational and educational materials (S. L. 2003, Ch.5).

2007       Membership change included three at large members appointed by the Governor. The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of Lake Traverse Reservation was added to the membership (S. L. 2007, Ch. 476).                                                                                                                                                                            
2011       A legislative management study on the feasibility and desirability of developing a tourism partnership with the State Tourism Division and the Tourism Department of the tribes requested (S. L. 2011, Ch. 571).

2011-2013  A list of executive directors is available in the 2011-2013 issue of the North Dakota Blue Book.             

SERIES

30582 Minutes.
30605 Executive Director’s Files.

 

SOURCES

Gray, David P.  Guide to the North Dakota State Archives, 1985.
North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission Website.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.

 

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