Could a new Secretary of the Interior affect federal lawsuits filed by MHA Nation?

Local News

It’s a lingering question following President-elect Joe Biden’s nomination of New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland.

Over the summer, MHA Nation sued the U.S. government over mineral rights under the Missouri River, worth more than $100 million. The Tribe’s Chairman, Mark Fox, filed two federal lawsuits demanding their mineral rights back.

Since the 1930s, opinions from the Secretary of the Department of Interior have said they belong to the Tribe. But in May, a new opinion overruled that and gave the land to the State.

We asked Chairman Fox what he expects out of the first Native American to lead the agency if she is confirmed.

“I have no idea what the approach is going to be and I don’t want to speculate it by any means, not until we’ve sat down and had a good discussion on it,” he shared.

“I would expect that a new administration, a new secretary would come in and say, ‘Well, give me a list of all actions taken and let’s see, you know, if there’s a solid basis for either continuing them or amending them, or revoking them’, similar to what every administration does. And I’m going to guess that’s going to occur to some degree here.”

Chairman Fox says the nomination is a big step for the representation of tribal nations in federal government.

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