Energy Revenues to American Indians Top $1 Billion for First Time

For the first time, energy revenues for American Indian tribes and individual Indian mineral owners topped $1 billion for a Fiscal Year.

American Indian tribes and individual Indian mineral owners will be seeing disbursements that include more than $1 billion – the first time energy production disbursements have been more than a billion for Natives.

The announcement was made by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell December 2, ahead of the 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference, as part of a larger Department of the Interior announcement of $13.4 billion in revenue generated by energy production on federal and American Indian lands and offshore areas in Fiscal Year 2014.

Interior’s energy revenue disbursements support critical reclamation, conservation, recreation, and historic preservation projects. The funds can be used for a variety of needs by local governments including school funding to infrastructure improvements and water conservation projects.

“Revenue generated from developing public energy resources that belong to all Americans helps fund critical investments in communities across the United States and creates American jobs, fosters land and water conservation efforts, improves critical infrastructure, and supports education,” said Jewell. “This year’s disbursements continue to reflect significant energy production from public and tribal lands in the United States.”

In total $1.1 billion will be disbursed to 34 tribes and more than 34,000 individual Indian mineral owners for resources held in trust or restricted status. The total is a $200 million increase over FY 2013. Most of which is attributed primarily to increased oil production from the Ft. Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.

Interior disburses 100 percent of the revenues received for energy and mineral production for American Indian owners through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of Special Trustee for American Indians.

Secretary Jewell announced a package of regulatory initiatives aimed at helping tribal leaders spur investment opportunities and economic development in Indian country. The package followed President Barack Obama’s visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota in June, in which Jewell was also a part of. Her package includes three main pieces: facilitating Indian country infrastructure development; removing barriers to land development through increased tribal self-governance; and supporting the growth of new markets for Native American and Alaska Native small businesses.

“While some tribes continue to experience recent economic progress from energy development, these tribes and many other tribal communities continue to face formidable economic hardship,” Jewell said. “In our efforts to foster tribal self-determination and improve our federal regulations to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will continue to look for opportunities to provide greater deference to tribes to help remove barriers to economic development on tribal lands. Working hand in hand with tribal communities and with my colleagues across the Administration, we hope to help lay a solid foundation for economic development and improve the quality of life for American Indians and Alaska Natives in their homelands.”