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News Release

Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation

The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation yesterday strongly condemned the most recent effort by the state of North Dakota to undermine the lawful rights of MHA Nation.

In an August 24, 2022, letter to an energy company, North Dakota Solicitor General Matthew Sagsveen asserted, contrary to the legal and historical record, that North Dakota owns the Missouri Riverbed inside the boundaries of the Fort Berthold Reservation.

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For nearly two centuries, the federal government has repeatedly affirmed the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation’s property rights to the Missouri Riverbed. These rights have been long upheld through legal precedent, including the 1825 and 1851 Treaties; subsequent Executive Orders; a binding decision by the Interior’s Board of Land Appeals in 1979; and Solicitor legal opinions in 1936, 2017 and 2022. These ongoing efforts by North Dakota to interfere with the MHA Nation’s proper collection of royalties for the tribe's mineral rights have been described as “smack[ing] of extortion” by the editorial page of the Bismarck Tribune. In the face of this continued attempted land grab by the state of North Dakota, the MHA Nation is committed to working with the Department of Interior and Department of Justice to protect its Tribal land and property rights on the Fort Berthold Reservation.

The statement below was issued by Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation Chairman Mark Fox.

“The Missouri River and the minerals below it on the Fort Berthold Reservation are the rightful property of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. The state of North Dakota continues to show their lack of respect for the legal precedents and people who have paid with their lives to preserve these fragments of our ancestral lands and waters. We reject their attempts to undermine the lawful rights of the MHA Nation. For centuries the federal government has affirmed our right to the Missouri Riverbed. We have always — will always — stand to protect our ancestral lands and property rights.”

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