MHA Nation condemns efforts by North Dakota Officials to intervene in riverbed mineral property lawsuit
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –
Aug. 11, 2020
NEW TOWN, N.D. – On Aug. 10, North Dakota filed a Motion to Intervene in the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation’s lawsuit against the Department of Interior (DOI). The suit claims DOI illegally took the MHA Nation’s property rights in the Missouri Riverbed on the Fort Berthold Reservation and breached its fiduciary trust and treaty duties. The riverbed mineral property rights have been legally recognized by DOI as belonging to the MHA Nation for over 80 years. In a recent opinion by Interior Solicitor Daniel Jorjani, acting on a request from North Dakota state officials, Jorjani purported to defy the decades old DOI precedent by stating that the minerals belonged to the state of North Dakota. The action resulted in the MHA Nation’s lawsuit.
In the Motion to Intervene, the State seeks the opportunity to prop up the Jorjani Opinion, hoping for a second chance at claiming the MHA Nation’s Reservation minerals. The State lost the same claim to the riverbed back in 1979 before the Interior Board of Land Appeals, a decision which became binding after the State failed to appeal. Now, having successfully lobbied DOI to overturn its own longstanding precedent, state officials are doubling down on their greed-based property grab from the MHA Nation. They are not listening to North Dakota citizens, the MHA Nation, or the national and local media who have criticized the State’s unfair actions as “extortion,” recognizing “the state has made misguided decisions in its pursuit of oil money.”
The statement below was issued by MHA Nation Chairman Mark Fox.
MHA Nation has a long history of standing up to deception, greed and broken promises, and we will continue to stand firmly in the truth. The truth endures and remains evident—the Missouri Riverbed was held in trust by the federal government for the MHA Nation before North Dakota became a state. Since before our original treaties, the Missouri Riverbed within what’s left of our Reservation has belonged to the MHA Nation. Again and again, over the decades, the DOI has expressly acknowledged that the Missouri Riverbed and the minerals beneath it have legally belonged to the MHA Nation within the Fort Berthold Reservation. Stand for what’s right—stand with the MHA Nation.
Contact: Lisa Lone Fight
MHA Nation Public Relations