The Office of Indian Affairs was established in 1951 by the Montana legislature to facilitate effective tribal-state communications with special attention to the discussion and resolution of issues that Indian peoples face regarding their unique political status and as full citizens of the state of Montana. The Office of Indian Affairs serves as a liaison between the state and the Tribes and promotes economic development, environmental protection, education, support for social services, and enduring good will.
The Director of Indian Affairs is tasked with duties that reflect the state's recognition that a sizable portion of the citizens of Montana are American Indian and that great issues of political, economic and social significance persist. The Director serves Indian people on and off their reservations by regularly visiting tribal governments and acting as a liaison, by assessing tribal concerns, and by reporting these concerns to the Governor's cabinet. The Director also meets with executive branch directors on issues pertinent to Indian citizens, tribes, and on issues that arise between state agency personnel or programs and tribal interests.
The Director advises the legislative and executive branches of the state of Montana on problems faced by Montana's Indians and makes recommendations for the alleviation of those problems and issues. The Director assists with the organization of collaborative state-tribal efforts like compacts and other cooperative agreements. Likewise, the Director seeks consensus among tribes on shared goals and principles while also serving the Montana congressional delegation as an adviser and intermediary in the field of Indian Affairs.
Jason Smith, Director
Rhonda Fenner, Administrative Officer