The busiest tribal land in the US for oil exploration sits in the heart of the Bakken formation.
More than one thousand oil wells on the Fort Berthold Reservation are producing close to 200-thousand barrels of oil every day.
And today, the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Nations opened their annual Oil and Gas Summit at the Four Bears Events Center, spotlighting oil development and environmental stewardship.
Following a traditional native song and colorful dance, Chairman Tex Hall opened the event by pointing out the amazing growth in the oil industry on tribal land.
He says the tribes have worked hard with oil companies and the federal government to streamline the permit process so oil exploration could proceed more quickly.(Tex Hall, Tribal Chairman) "You had to get approvals from multiple agencies, BIA, BLM, EPA, etc. So it took almost a year and a half to get a permit. And now it's probably four months, three months to get a permit so we've really worked the system. This partnership of the tribes, oil companies, and the feds is really a partnership you have to work. And that triangle to be successful and we've worked hard at it."
US Senator Heidi Heitkamp addressed the conference, saying she wants even better systems of permitting and oversight.
She says the federal government must remember that the land in question belongs to the tribes and their members.
In short, the government needs to stay out of the way.(Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, (D) ND) "They still have a role. But that role is not as it would be if it were a national park or it it were BLM land. We absolutely need everybody to understand that they should be facilitating and helping with this development and not impeding it."
The event continues tomorrow near New Town.
And tomorrow on KX News, we'll talk with the CEO of Thunder Butte Petroleum Services - the new oil refinery being built on tribal land near Makoti.