Statement on Legal Filing by Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation Regarding Illegal Taking of Nation’s Missouri Riverbed Property Rights
WASHINGTON, DC | Today, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation) took steps to prevent the illegal taking of the Nation’s property rights to minerals beneath the Missouri River on its Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) holds firm its position in support of the MHA Nation’s land and mineral rights, and has advocated for government-to-government consultation between the MHA Nation and the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor to confirm the longstanding Executive and Congressional actions declaring that the Missouri River bed within the Fort Berthold Reservation is owned by the MHA Nation.
“The MHA Nation’s rights to the Missouri River bed minerals have been reaffirmed through a history of longstanding, well-settled, and still applicable legal precedents, and there should be no question as to the validity of the Nation’s claims,” says NCAI President Fawn Sharp. “We cannot reiterate strongly enough that consultation with tribal nations and upholding treaty obligations is not optional. It is mandatory.”
For these reasons, NCAI urges the Department of the Interior to immediately withdraw Solicitor’s Opinion M-37056 as an unwarranted threat to longstanding tribal trust assets. The fiduciary obligation of the United States is to protect and preserve tribal trust assets in order to ensure tribal nations have the resources needed to provide permanent homelands for present and future generations of their citizens. Instead, M-Opinion 37056 does the opposite, and completely reverses course on the Department of the Interior’s longstanding legal position with little or no rationale for doing so. NCAI stands with the MHA Nation in its fight to preserve its trust assets.
To view NCAI’s resolution on this issue, please click here
About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org