ND Indian Affairs Commission
The Commission is the liaison between the Executive Branch and the Tribes in North Dakota. Duties include mediation service with the Tribes and State and working with other state agencies regarding proper protocol in working with Indian people and Tribal governments.
- Increase and maximize educational opportunities for American Indians in North Dakota
- Increase the economic self-sufficiency of American Indians in North Dakota and maximize Indian economic development initiatives
- Achieve parity in employment for Indians of North Dakota
- Improve the health status of American Indians in North Dakota
- Increase the public awareness of American Indians
- Provide for the state and/or federal recognition of North Dakota Indian tribes
- Promote recognition of and the right of Indians to pursue cultural and religious traditions considered by them to be sacred and meaningful and to promote public understanding and appreciation of Indian culture
ND Indian Affairs Commission Membership
Governor Doug Burgum
Office of the Governor
600 E Boulevard Ave
Bismarck, ND 58505-0001
(701) 328-2200 (w)
(701) 328-2205 (fax)
Three Affiliated Tribes
404 Frontage Road
New Town, ND 58763
(701) 627-4781 (w)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
PO Box D
Fort Yates, ND 58538
(701) 854-7201 (w)
(701) 854-7299 (fax)
Spirit Lake Nation
PO Box 359
Fort Totten, ND 58335-0359
(701) 766-4626 (w)
(701) 766-4126 (fax)
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
PO Box 900
Belcourt, ND 58316-0900
Delbert Hopkins Jr.
PO Box 509
Agency Village, SD 57262
(605) 698-3911 (w)
(605) 698-7907 (fax)
At Large Member - Dr. Leander "Russ" McDonald
United Tribes Technical College
Dr. Leander "Russ" McDonald
3315 University Drive
Bismarck, ND 58503
(701) 255-3285 (w)
At Large Member - Dr. Viola LaFountaine
At Large Member - Erica Thunder
ND Department of Labor and Human Rights
600 E Boulevard
Bismarck, ND 58505
(701) 328-3809 (w)
NDIAC Mission Statement (excerpts from ND Century Code 54-36)
(click here for a complete copy of ND Century Code 54-36 - Indian Affairs Commission)
The Indian affairs commission may assist and mobilize the support of state and federal agencies in assisting Indian individuals and groups in North Dakota, especially the five tribal councils, as the Indian individuals and tribal councils seek to develop their own goals, project plans for achieving those goals, and implement those plans. The commission may accept gifts, grants, donations, and services from any source which are appropriated on a continuing basis for the purposes of the commission. The commission's duties are to:
- Investigate any phase of Indian affairs and to assemble and make available the facts needed by tribal, state, and federal agencies to work effectively together.
- Assist tribal, state, and federal agencies in developing programs whereby Indian citizens may achieve more adequate standards of living.
- Assist tribal groups in developing increasingly effective institutions of self-government.
- Work for greater understanding and improved relationships between Indians and non-Indians.
- Seek increased participation by Indian citizens in local and state affairs.
- Confer with and coordinate officials and agencies of other governmental units and congressional committees with regard to Indian needs and goals.
- Encourage and propose agreements and accords between federal, state, and local agencies and the several tribal governments, and, pursuant to chapter 54-40.2, to assist in monitoring and negotiating agreements and accords when asked by an affected tribe.
The North Dakota Indian affairs commission consists of the governor, three members appointed by the governor from the state at large, two of whom must be of Indian descent, must be enrolled members of a tribe, and must be current voting residents of the state, and the chairperson, or the chairperson's designee, of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; the Spirit Lake Nation; the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation; the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians; and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation. The governor is the chairperson of the commission. The commission shall meet quarterly or as otherwise agreed. Members of the commission or the chairperson's designee are entitled to receive mileage and expenses for attending each meeting as are allowed other state officers.
Protocol When Working With Tribes
(adapted from document that can found in original form on the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council website)
- Understand the unique relationship between American Indians and the United States government. It is a political relationship – not race based.
- The history of this unique relationship is relevant and important to working with a Tribe.
- There are over 500 federally recognized Tribes – each with its own history, culture, and language.
- Remember that American Indians may be suspicious of outsiders and outside ideas.
- Do not assume one Tribe or one leader speaks for all. Take the time to find the key players.
- Those you consult with might not be able to answer questions immediately. They may need to think about it and consult with others.
- American Indians object to being ‘consulted’ or ‘studied’ by people who have little intention of doing anything in response to their concerns. Be prepared to negotiate, to find ways to accommodate the Tribe’s concerns. Be prepared to respond with reasons why the advice may or may not be followed.
- Meetings with Tribal council officials and Tribal program staff should, if possible, be conducted between the same levels of officials.
- Most Tribal governments are not wealthy and it may be difficult for Tribal officials to attend meetings or to exchange correspondence. Also, Tribal governments in general do not have large support staff to assign to meetings, follow-up, etc.
- Formal notices or invitations should be addressed to the Tribal Chairperson and/or the appropriate Council Representative or Committee, with the respective Tribal program Director copied in on the letter.
- Do not rely solely on written communications. Follow-up written correspondence with telephone calls, faxes, or in-person contacts.
- Traditional authorities often do not relate well to written communication and may find face-to-face consultation more appropriate.
- Understand that there are different ways of communication. Seemingly extraneous data may be reviewed and re-reviewed. During negotiations, prepare to discuss all aspects of an issue at hand simultaneously rather than sequentially.
- Respect Tribal Council representatives as elected officials of a government.
- Like all business relationships, honesty and integrity are highly valued. A sense of humor is appreciated but generally, serious, business-like behavior is appropriate.
- Always shake hands when introduced, meeting with someone or departing. It is customary to shake hands with everyone in the room.
- If possible, arrange meetings with refreshments and/or a meal. This is a cultural characteristic that is still strong in Indian country.
Created by the North Dakota Legislature in 1949, the ND Indian Affairs Commission was one of the first such commissions established in the United States. Although the official function of the NDIAC has been modified over the years to reflect changes in federal and state policy, the main goal of the Commission has always been to create a better North Dakota through the improvement of tribal/state relations and better understanding between American Indian and non-Indian people.
Over the years, nine governors have served as chair of the Commission as the NDIAC has tackled many issues including jurisdiction, assimilation, employment, economic development, welfare, discrimination, research, self-determination for tribes and, most recently, gaming. The Commission has evolved as a vital link between the state and tribal nations. The NDIAC continues to address tough issues and to serve as a facilitator for building a better North Dakota through cooperation, understanding, and mutual respect.
North Dakota's Indian people remain a rich cultural resource who have endured and survived many oppressive federal policies. By educating ourselves about this history and the significant contributions made by the Native people, we can improve relationships and truly extend our wonderful North Dakota quality of life into Indian country.
Commission Meeting Information
North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission Meeting
Agenda is a roundtable discussion focused on Legislative Session rather than specific agenda items.
The Governor has called a meeting of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, scheduled for March 25th from 1:00-3:00 pm. The meeting will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams. A link to the meeting is included below. Proposed topics of discussion are an update from the Indian Affairs Commission staff on legislation and updates, legislative priorities and feedback from each Chairman and Indian Affairs Commissioner. The meeting will be open to the general public. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.