November 17, 2021

A district divided

House, Senate vote on redistricting; subdistrict for Fort Berthold created 


McLean County will include four Legislative districts, including the newly formed subdistrict including the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.  The North Dakota Legislature voted last week — the House voting 73-18 on Tuesday, and the Senate 40-7 on Wednesday — to approve the legislature’s redistricting committee’s plans, which included the creation of sub-districts to support the Fort Berthold and Turtle Mountain Indian reservations. The two reservations maintained population numbers that were large enough to support the idea of sub-districts. The redistricting plans will now move to Gov. Doug Burgum’s desk.  Over the past few months, the committee met and examined the redistricting process. An increase in North Dakota’s population between 2010 and 2020 warranted the need to redraw the district lines; North Dakota has an estimated 779,000 residents, up 16 percent from 2010. Through the sub-districts, District 4 and 9 would be split. This means that District 4A and District 4B would each get to vote for a State Senator. It also means that instead of the district voting for two representatives for the North Dakota House, each sub-district would vote for one representative. Through this, the subdistricting would guarantee that Native American voices would have more presence in the North Dakota Legislature.  Currently, there are three Native American legislators in the state, including Rep. Ruth Buffalo, D-Fargo, a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes; Sen. Richard Marcellais, D-Belcourt, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians; and Sen. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, an Alaska Native and member of Sealaska Corp.  The topic of sub-districts, however, met some scorn from legislators, including from Larsen who voiced his opinion during the Senate floor session last Wednesday. 

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