For the third year, tribal officials of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nations are getting ready to host the players and agencies who are producing oil on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Tribal Chairman Tex “Red Tipped Arrow” Hall said “We have a three-legged partnership, the tribes, oil companies and the federal agencies involved in oil activity here.”
The theme of the Chairman’s annual expo is “The Modern Day Gold Rush.” Chairman Hall has coined the phrase to be used, “Sovereignty by the Barrel.” “We’ve been blessed with a natural resource, but we do not want to sacrifice our environment to bring the oil to the nation. We have 850 wells on Fort Berthold and we’re producing 160,000 barrels a day. We’re a big part of U.S. oil independence,” he said. “We’ve come a long ways, putting the pieces together ourselves to make this work, to produce the oil and protect our environment.”
The conference is scheduled for April 22 and 23 at the Four Bears Casino Events Center. It brings together the parties who are working with the MHA Nations to help the United States gain energy independence. Senator Heidi Heitkamp and Congressman Kevin Cramer will address the Expo. On the morning of the 23rd, North Dakota Department of Transportation Director Grant Levi will outline his agency’s plans for transportation in the region.
Hall points to the MHA Nation’s Missouri River and Badlands Protection Act that he said will “go a long way to protect the natural beauty of the region. It limits roads, and well pads and requires set-backs from the Missouri River.” He said the event will address some of these regulations, helping all parties work together to further expand oil production on the Fort Berthold Reservation while protecting the environment and landowner’s rights.
Organizers are working out the schedule to include an awards ceremony honoring individuals, businesses and agencies. In early planning sessions, awards categories were identified such as best management practices, community services, community partnerships and compliance. Breakout sessions will include right-of-way issues, cost-pricing index, flaring, landowner and allottee rights. Hall said a session will also update the public on the progress of the MHA Nation’s oil refinery.
The MHA Nation is legendary in its hospitality, going back to the time of Thomas Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery. Hall said that element of hospitality will extend beyond the classroom and meetings. “We’ll have fun, too,” he said. “There will be visits with traditional leaders and demonstrations of our dances and traditions. We’re planning tours and helicopter rides to see our land. The MHA Tourism will host tours of the Earth Lodge Village.”