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Tribal leaders push for Legislative 'sub-districts'

North Dakota tribal leaders are asking the Legislature’s Redistricting Committee to create House sub-districts.

They say this would give Native Americans more of a chance for representation in the Legislature.

Under that plan, districts would still have one Senator. But each of the subdistricts would elect their own House member.

Standing Rock tribal chairman Mike Faith suggested District 31 – which now includes part of Mandan, southern Morton County, eastern Hettinger County, and Sioux and Grant Counties – be split into two House sub-districts – one for Mandan and Southern Morton, and the other for the rest of that district.

"The purpose of the whole thing is representation, and better communication, for the Native nations within our state," Faith told the Committee.

Matthew Campbell of the Native American Rights Fund told the Committee he’s heard similar arguments from other North Dakota reservations.

"They are certainly very interested in sub-districting, to improve their opportunities for representation," Campbell said. "I've heard they're interested in being treated as communities of interest, that should not be divided."

Campbell said he hopes the Committee will engage with tribal leaders once it has a solid proposal for new district lines.

The Legislature will likely meet in special session in November to put the finishing touches on the district boundaries.