State Government


Created by the North Dakota Legislature in 1949, the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission (NDIAC) is one of the first such commissions established in the United States. The NDIAC exists as an executive branch agency with the governor as chair of the commission.

In its 59 years of existence, the function of the NDIAC has changed to reflect major changes in federal and state policy. However, the goal of the NDIAC 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.


Committee on Tribal and State Court Affairs

The Committee on Tribal and State Court Affairs is a vehicle for expanding tribal and state court judges' knowledge of the respective judicial systems; for identifying and discussing issues regarding court practices, procedures, and administration which are of common concern to members of tribal and state judicial systems; and for cultivating mutual respect for and cooperation between tribal and state judicial systems.

The Committee on Tribal and State Court Affairs is a standing committee of the North Dakota Supreme Court. The Chief Justice appoints the chair and vice-chair of the Committee.

Committee on Tribal and State Court Affairs
(18 members)

Member - Title

Agency Representing


Appointed By

*State Court Judges

State Judicial Systems

three-year term

Chief Justice

Chief Tribal Judge or designee

Tribal Judicial Systems

Until replaced


Tribal Court Administrative Support Services

Tribal Judicial Systems

one three year term

Judge members recommend 
Chief Justice appoints

State Court Administrative Support Services

State Judicial Systems

one three year term

Judge members recommend 
Chief Justice appoints

*Public Members

Public Interest

three-year term

Chief Justice

Chief Judge or designee

U.S. District
Court for North Dakota District

Until replaced


Director or designee

Northern Plains Tribal Judicial Training Institute

Until replaced


*  May not serve more than three consecutive three-year terms, but is eligible for reappointment after a six-year break in service.

Duties of the Committee:

A.  The Committee shall:

1. Study the comparative operation, practices, and procedures of tribal and state judicial systems for purposes of identifying possible areas of mutually agreeable cooperative action;

2. Serve as a forum for discussion of areas of common concern shared by tribal and state judges and judicial system personnel;

3. Serve as a vehicle for establishing and maintaining a long-term, continuing relationship between tribal and state judicial systems; and

4. Review any other matters referred to it by the Supreme Court, a tribal court, or a tribal council.

B.  May recommend to the Supreme Court, tribal courts, or tribal councils, potential agreements, informal inter-system working relationships, education initiatives, or proposed or revised statutes or rules to resolve conflicts and to remove barriers to understanding and cooperation between tribal and state judicial systems. 

North Dakota Court Improvement Project

In 2006, the Administrative Council, a Judicial Branch entity of the North Dakota Supreme Court, reestablished the Court Improvement Project Committee. The director of the Indian Affairs Commission is designated as a member of the Committee. The Project was developed under the auspices of the Administrative Council, in cooperation with North Dakota Indian tribes, to provide recommendations to the Council on Court Improvement issues. 

Purposes of the Committee:

1. To conduct assessments of the roles, responsibilities and effectiveness of state courts in carrying out state laws requiring proceedings related to foster care and adoption conducted by or under the supervision of the courts;

2. Implement improvements the highest state courts deem necessary as a result of the assessments:

a. To provide for the safety, well-being, and permanence of children in foster care as set forth by the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) and any other federal or state law regarding child welfare issues.

b. To implement a corrective action plan, as necessary, resulting from reviews of child and family service programs.

3. To ensure that the safety, permanence and well-being needs of children are met in a timely and complete manner; and

4. To provide for the training of judges, attorneys and other legal personnel in child welfare cases.


A. The Committee consists of members appointed by the Chief Justice or as indicated:

         1. Four district court judges (one from each Administrative Unit)
         2. One judicial referee;
         3. One juvenile court director appointed by the state court administrator;
         4. One tribal court administrative personnel appointed by the state court administrator;
         5. Director of Children and Family Services Division of the Department of Human Services;
         6. One state’s attorney appointed by the State’s Attorney Association;
         7. Director of Indigent Defense Services or designee; and 
         8. Director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission.

B. The Chief Justice appoints one of the district court judges as chair. All judicial appointees can serve up to three consecutive terms.

Court Improvement Project (CIP) – Sub-committees.

The Court Improvement Project Committee has four sub-committees.

1. Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Sub-Committee. The ICWA Committee is comprised of representatives of tribal ICWA workers, tribal County Social Services, director of the Indian Affairs Commission, representative from the ND Department of Human Services, and four regional district court judges.  The Trial Court Administrator serves as chair of the ICWA Committee in the 2008, and the Assistant State Court Administrator serves as staff.

2. Guardian Ad Litem Sub-Committee.

3. Education and Training Sub-Committee.

4. Data Collections and Analysis Sub-Committee.


One of the roles of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission is to keep the public informed about current laws and legislative issues that impact Indian country.  Throughout the upcoming legislative session, we track various bills and committees to help keep you informed.  Please contact our office if you would like more information regarding legislative issues in North Dakota.



Legislative District

Spirit Lake Nation:
Benson, Eddie, Ramsey, Nelson, & Wells Counties

District 23
Senator Joan Heckaman (D)
Representative Bill Devlin (R)
Representative Don Vigesaa (R)

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe:
Sioux County

District 31
Senator Donald Schaible (R)
Representative Karen M. Rohr (R)
Representative Jim Schmidt (R) 

Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara Nation - Three Affiliated Tribes:
McLean, Ward, Mountrail, Mercer, Dunn, & McKenzie Counties

District 4
Senator Jordan Kannianen (R)
Representative Terry B. Jones (R)
Representative Clayton Fegley (R)

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa:
Rolette County

District 9
Senator Richard Marcellais (D)
Representative Tracy Boe (D)
Representative Marvin E. Nelson (D) 

Trenton Indian Service Area:
Williams, Divide, & McKenzie Counties

District 1
Senator Brad Bekkedahl (R)
Representative Patrick Hatlestad (R)
Representative David Richter (R)

District 2
Senator David Rust (R)
Representative Bert Anderson (R)
Representative Donald Longmuir (R)

District 39
Senator Dale Patten (R)
Representative Keith Kempenich (R)
Representative Denton Zubke (R)

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate:
Richland & Sargent Counties

District 25
Senator Larry Luick (R)
Representative Alisa Mitskog (D)
Representative Cynthia Schreiber-Beck (R)

67th ND Legislative Session
67th ND Legislative Session