Bill would abolish Indian Affairs

Legislation to abolish the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs and turn it into a commission within Secretary of State Tom Schedler’s shop advanced to the House floor Thursday.

But there’s a caveat.

House Bill 441’s sponsor, state Rep. Joe Harrison, told the House Committee on House and Governmental Affairs that the change would give Louisiana’s Indian tribes needed autonomy to seek out grants and funds from the federal government.

“It would give us a voice and a means of communicating with the governor,” said Thomas Dardar Jr., chief of the United Houma Nation.

Schedler raised a few concerns, namely that the legislation came as a surprise to him. “I’ve got to find out a little more about it,” he said.

Schedler said he lacks the staff to handle Indian compacts and would need to hire an experienced attorney. He requested a meeting with Harrison before the bill advances off the House floor.

“I’m not going to sit here idly and take over something of this magnitude,” Schedler said.

Harrison, R-Napoleonville, agreed to Schedler’s conditions.