The Legislative Commission on Indian Services was created by statute in 1975 to advise the Legislative Assembly and other Oregon officials and agencies on the needs of American Indian people in the state. The thirteen members of the Commission are appointed pursuant to ORS 172.100 et seq, to two-year, staggered terms of office. These appointments are made jointly by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate and are based on nominations submitted by American Indian tribes and communities in designated areas of the state.
The specific statutory responsibilities of the Commission include: 1) Compiling information about services for Indians; 2) Developing and sponsoring programs to inform Indians of services available to them; 3) Developing and sponsoring programs to make Indian needs and concerns know to the public and private agencies whose activities affect Indians; 4) Encouraging and supporting these public and private agencies to expand and improve their services for Indians; 5) Assessing programs of state agencies operating for the benefit of Indians and making recommendations to the appropriate agencies for improving those programs; 6) Reporting biennially to the Governor and the Legislative Assembly on all matters of concern to Indians in Oregon.
In order to carry out these statutory responsibilities, the Commission holds meetings to familiarize its members with current problems American Indians are facing and to discuss possible solutions. Often the Commission invites representatives of state or federal agencies to discuss their programs as they affect the Indian population in the state. The Commission also monitors legislation affecting Indians, both while it is being considered by the Legislature and after it becomes law, and assists in presenting information to the Legislature on issues of importance to American Indians in Oregon.
The Legislative Commission on Indian Services embodies the State of Oregon's commitment to recognize the existence of Oregon's Indian communities and their needs. Prior to its establishment, there was no suitable mechanism in state government to consider Indian needs and concerns directly. With the establishment of the Commission, this significant barrier has been eliminated. The Commission serves as the primary forum in which Indian needs are considered; it serves as the conduit by which concerns are channeled through the appropriate network; it serves as the point of access for finding out about state government programs and policies; and, it serves as a catalyst for bringing about change where it is needed.
The Commission actively promotes intergovernmental cooperation and coordination as a means of enhancing the well being of Indian people in the state. It is the Commission's belief that one of the best ways in which to assist Indians is to help them help themselves. Therefore, while the Commission will often take the lead in addressing needs and concerns, it will also encourage Indians to find their own solutions. The Commission recognizes that it will not solve many of the problems Indians encounter, however, with the support of Indians and state government, legislative and administrative solutions can be developed to meet many of these needs.