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News from the Great Plains

North Dakota and Fort Berthold to share oil and gas tax revenues

BISMARCK, N.D. - The North Dakota Legislature has passed a measure that would allow the state and the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation to split the tax revenues from oil and gas drilling that occurs within the exterior boundaries of the reservation.

The MHA Nation would receive an even split with the state on oil and gas gross production and oil extraction taxes on trust land. For all other production, the MHA Nation would receive 20 percent of the total oil and gas gross-production taxes. The state would receive the remainder.

The bill was passed unanimously by both houses of the Legislature in the final days of the 2007 legislative session; it now awaits the governor's signature.

This bill allows the governor to enter into consultation with the MHA Nation and the state tax commissioner concerning the regulation of the oil and gas taxes as long at the agreement lies within the confines of the legislation.

The Fort Berthold Reservation, home to the MHA Nation, is located on top of the Bakken rock formation, which is considered a prime area as an oil producer.

It is expected this agreement will become an economic boom for the region.

Former Oglala tribal officials charged with theft

RAPID CITY, S.D. - A former tribal vice president and a former treasurer for the Oglala Sioux Tribe have been charged with theft from the tribe while acting as officials of the tribe. Eileen Janis, currently assistant to tribal President John Steele, served as vice president for the Alex White Plume administration in the latter months of 2006 after the impeachment of president Cecelia Fire Thunder.

Charged along with Janis are former OST treasurer David R. Rabbit Sr. and Kim Colhoff.

The alleged thefts occurred during the period from 2003 and 2004. Each is charged with misapplying, stealing or knowingly converting for their own use, money or property in excess of $1,000. The exact amount will not be known until court hearings proceed. If convicted, the three could face up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Janis pleaded not guilty to the charges in U.S. District Court. She and the others were charged with the theft by a federal grand jury that convened in April 2007, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Cheyenne River Sioux move closer to Oahe Dam compensations

WASHINGTON - A bill to provide Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe citizens in South Dakota with $58.1 million as compensation for damages from the Oahe Dam and reservoir construction on the Missouri River made it out of the Natural Resources Committee in the House of Representatives May 2.

An attorney familiar with the tribe and its history with Oahe, speaking on background for lack of any direct engagement in the bill drafting process, said its provisions include qualifications on the monetary drawdown process that appear limiting. On a crowded day for Washington deadlines, greater specificity could not be obtained. H.R. 487 now goes out to the full House for consideration.

Staff reporter Jerry Reynolds contributed to this report.