This week, I decided to do my â€œAsk Your Governmentâ€ column about the state Indian Affairs Commission.
Executive Director Scott Davis has spoken at a few legislative meetings this summer, so I decided to find out more about what he does.
Gov. John Hoeven appointed Davis to the Cabinet-level position in April 2009.
Davis serves as liaison between North Dakotaâ€™s state and tribal governments to address issues regarding education, business, economic development, transportation, wellness, veterans and youth.
â€œItâ€™s about educating the tribes and the state about each other,â€ Davis said.
One of his focus areas is working with the state Commerce Department to assess tribal businesses in North Dakota. Connecting unemployed tribal members with jobs and overcoming transportation and housing barriers are also issues, he said.
Davis is also interested in creating partnerships between the state university system and tribal colleges, as well as between Indian Health Service and the North Dakota Dental Association. The waiting list for dental work in tribal communities is problematic, he said.
Davis also serves on a commission studying racial and ethnic bias in the state court system.
With all of the serious issues his job involves, Davis also works on some lighter topics.
He recently updated legislators about a project to preserve American Indian language. Episodes of â€œThe Bernstein Bearsâ€ are being voiced in the Lakota language to help teach children.
He also said this summerâ€™s youth leadership academy was â€œa huge success,â€ with 40 high school students engaging in leadership, wellness, career development, cultural and spiritual activities.
More information about Davis and the Indian Affairs Commission is available at www.nd.gov/indianaffairs .
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Legislative week ahead
The Taxation Committee meets at 9 a.m. CDT Tuesday in the Roughrider Room in the Capitol in Bismarck.
Topics include property tax relief, tax-increment financing, and allocations of oil and gas gross production tax money to political subdivisions for fiscal year 2010.
The Natural Resources Committee meets at 9 a.m. CDT Friday in the Ionian/Mediterranean Room of the Holiday Inn Riverside, 2200 Burdick Expressway E., in Minot.
The agenda includes discussion of oil development activities and issues, as well as regulation of rig and well sites.
Legislators will also hear a report from the state Parks and Recreation Department on linking and improving public sites along the Sibley and Sully historic trails.