Committee Wants To Improve Government-To-Government RelationsA committee wants to develop a positive relationship between state and tribal governments. The Tribal and State Relations Committee heard testimony about issues in Indian country today.
By: Renee Chmiel, WDAZ
A committee wants to develop a positive relationship between state and tribal governments. The Tribal and State Relations Committee heard testimony about issues in Indian country today.
After nearly being dissolved, the Tribal and State Relations Committee kicked off a series of 5 meetings today in Belcourt. It will visit each of the four major reservations in North Dakota.
Merle Boucher: "We decided to go out into the country, into the Indian communities and visit firsthand."
The group of district senators and representatives listened as people talked to them about Indian issues, like economic development, education, and hate crimes. They heard about the vandalism of the Rising Eagle Sculpture in Bismarck.
David Gipp: "The act was intended, we believe, to intimidate the city of Bismarck and Native Americans and to prevent further Native American-themed sculptures."
Although committee members like Turtle Mountain Tribal Chair Richard Marcellais came to listen today, there are issues they want the committee to address.
Richard Marcellais: "On the federal side I'm looking at maybe getting a veterans clinic up here tied into our Indian Health Service Department."
The committee will use the feedback it gets at the meetings to work to improve government-to-government relations.
Richard Marcellais: "These concerns, after the interim committees are put together, become state law and bills in the next legislature."
The committee will meet on the Spirit Lake Reservation sometime in 2010, but it hasn't set a date yet. The fifth and final meeting will be a wrap-up meeting at United Tribes in Bismarck.