224 vacancies remain on state boards, commissions

Native Americans await appointments

INDIANAPOLIS - The Native American community is raising concerns about a commission that’s supposed to be representing their interests, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

The last time a governor made appointments to the Native American and Indian Affairs Commission was 2006, and the last time the group met was in 2008.

The Commission has a website, but the information has not been updated in years and the phone number listed just kept ringing when Kenney called Monday.

"The commission is supposed to give us a voice," said Doug Poe, executive director of the American Indian Center of Indiana. 

The commission is a 15-member board, and the Governor makes eight of the appointments.

Poe said best estimates show between 50,000 and 100,000 people of Native American descent live in the Hoosier state.

"I would like to see the commission reinstated," said Poe, who is part Cherokee and Choctaw.

Poe points out the “Land of the Indians” license plates have generated a sum of money that is just sitting there until the commission is appointed.

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles said $276,350 exists in the Native American trust fund.

Poe said the money could be used to establish scholarships and medical clinics for the Indian community.

"If you’re appointed to the commission, you’ve got to understand you can’t go after sovereignty, state or federal recognition, you can’t talk about casinos, but you can talk about any Native American issue other than those two," Poe said.

The Native American and Indian Affairs Commission is not the only commission awaiting appointments statewide.

Kara Brooks, spokeswoman for Gov. Mike Pence, said 224 vacancies still remain.

Brooks also said the state has more than 200 boards and commissions.

"We are working diligently to fill numerous vacancies on Indiana boards and commissions,
including the Indiana Native American Indian Affairs Commission," Brooks said in an email to Kenney. "Several people have expressed interest in serving on the Native American Indian Affairs Commission and we continue to review their applications to ensure they meet the qualifications of appointment set forth in the Indiana Code."

Brooks said 369 appointments were made to different commissions and boards in 2013.

Follow Kara Kenney on Twitter: @karakenney6 | Facebook: KaraKenneyNews

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