[HISTORY: Adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature 8-18-2009 by Res. No. 775-2009 (Ch. 677 of the 1985 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Native Americans were the original habitants of the territory that became Suffolk County; and hundreds of years later, Suffolk County remains home to many Native Americans.
Native Americans played an important role in shaping the development and character of Suffolk County and continue to do so today; and Suffolk County wants to increase education on Long Island about our original settlers, their history, traditions and culture.
The Poospatuck and Shinnecock tribes have reservations in Suffolk County; and since these tribes are separate nations with independent tribal governments, it would be prudent to improve communication and foster good relations between their governments and the government of Suffolk County.
Many Native Americans in Suffolk County do not reside on reservations, which may prevent them from receiving information about certain benefits for which they may be eligible; and Suffolk County wants to aid all Native American residents so that they receive important benefits information; and Suffolk County wants to improve the public's knowledge and understanding of Native Americans and establish a more open relationship with their governments in an effort to improve the County's responsiveness to the needs of its residents.
Suffolk County has created advisory boards to advocate on behalf of other communities; and it is prudent to establish a Native American Affairs Advisory Board, which shall have a primary goal of seeking the establishment of an Office of Native American Affairs.
The Suffolk County Native American Affairs Advisory Board is hereby created for the following purposes:
To promote educational outreach on Native American history and culture on Long Island, particularly in Suffolk County;
To improve cultural understanding between the Native American community, Suffolk County government and on Suffolk County reservations;
To provide resources and referrals for Native Americans seeking benefits offered to members of tribes in Suffolk County, including educational and health care resources;
To create a database containing historical and cultural information about Native Americans on Long Island;
To advocate on behalf of the Native American community in Suffolk County;
To create a voice for Native Americans in Suffolk County where constructive dialogue can take place and transparency can be established between tribal governments and the Suffolk County government;
To put in place the foundation for the creation of a Suffolk County Office of Native American Affairs;
To pursue and obtain funding for the Office of Native American Affairs; and
To continue to advise Suffolk County and the Office of Native American Affairs once it has been established.
The Suffolk County Native American Affairs Advisory Board shall consist of the following 13 members:
A representative from the County Legislature, to be appointed by the Presiding Officer;
A representative from the County Executive's office, to be selected by the County Executive;
A representative from the Office of Minority Affairs;
A representative from the Shinnecock Nation;
A representative from the Unchachogue Nation;
A representative from the Montauk Native People;
A member of the Inter-Tribal Historic Preservation Task Force;
A representative of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association, to be selected by the County Legislature;
The Commissioner of the Department of Health Services, or his or her designee;
One male elder from a Suffolk County Native American tribe, to be selected by the County Legislature;
One female elder from a Suffolk County Native American tribe, to be selected by the County Legislature;
One advocate for Native Americans living off reservations, to be selected by the County Legislature; and
Two Native American youths, who will attend alternate meetings, to be selected by the County Legislature.
The members of said Board shall serve without compensation and shall serve at the pleasure of their respective appointing authorities.
The Board shall hold regular monthly meetings, keeping a record of all proceedings, and determine the rules of its own proceedings, with special meetings to be called by the Chairperson upon his or her own initiative or upon receipt of a written request therefor signed by at least seven members of the Board. Written notice of the time and place of such special meetings shall be given by the Secretary to each member at least four days before the date fixed by the notice for such special meeting.
Seven members of the Board shall constitute a quorum to transact the business of the Board at both regular and special meetings.
The Board may submit requests to the County Executive and the County Legislature for approval for the provision of secretarial services, travel expenses or the retention of consultants to assist the Board with such endeavors, said total expenditures not to exceed $5,000 per fiscal year, which services shall be subject to legislative approval.
Clerical services involving the month-to-month operation of this Board, as well as supplies and postage as necessary, will be provided by the staff of the County Office of Minority Affairs.
The Board may conduct such informal hearings and meetings at any place or places within the County of Suffolk for the purpose of obtaining necessary information or other data to assist it in the proper performance of its duties and functions as it deems necessary.
The Board may delegate to any member of the Board the power and authority to conduct such hearings and meetings.
The Board shall cooperate with the legislative committees of the County Legislature and make available to each committee's use, upon request, any records and other data it may accumulate or obtain.
The Board is hereby authorized, empowered and directed to create a County Legislative Liaison Subcommittee to deal with issues related to the Suffolk County Legislature and shall conduct such public hearings throughout the County of Suffolk as may be determined to be necessary to ascertain the views, wishes and opinions of the residents of the Native American community in Suffolk County.
The Board shall submit a written report on its findings and recommendations on the creation of an Office of Native American Affairs to each member of the Suffolk County Legislature and the County Executive no later than 180 days from the formation of the Board.
The Board shall submit a written annual report of its findings and determinations together with its recommendations for action, if any, to each member of the County Legislature and County Executive no later than January 31 of each year, for the prior calendar year activities, for consideration, review and appropriate action, if necessary, by the entire County Legislature.
None of the work contemplated by this chapter shall be performed by any outside consultant or consulting firm unless explicit approval and authorization for such consultant or consulting firm is granted pursuant to a duly enacted resolution of the County Legislature.