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News Release

Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation

The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation) said it is pleased to see the Department of the Interior’s decision February 4 to uphold the nation’s ownership of the Missouri Riverbed within the Fort Berthold Reservation. Interior Solicitor Robert Anderson issued a new M-Opinion February 4 in favor of the tribe and its longstanding property rights.

For thousands of years, the Missouri Riverbed, on what is now the Fort Berthold Reservation, has belonged to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. These rights have continually been upheld through legal precedent including the 1825 and 1851 Treaties, subsequent Executive Orders, a binding decision by Interior’s Board of Land Appeals in 1979, and Solicitor legal opinions in 1936 and 2017.

In 2020, former Solicitor Daniel Jorjani issued an outlier opinion that illegally sought to take away the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation’s ownership and to wrongfully award this property to the State of North Dakota. The Jorjani opinion spuriously upended this long-standing legal status quo and forced Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation to file two federal lawsuits in Washington, D.C. to protect its legitimate property interests. 

The statement below is from Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation Chairman Mark Fox.

“We are pleased the federal government has chosen to follow the law and once again reaffirm the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation’s ownership of the Missouri riverbed within the Fort Berthold Reservation. The Department of Interior has now corrected the grave injustice caused by the Jorjani Opinion and restored the federal government’s long-standing recognition that the Missouri riverbed within the Fort Berthold Reservation belongs to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. We look forward to working with the Department of Interior to implement Solicitor Anderson’s Opinion and to protect the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation’s historic rights to the Missouri riverbed.”

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