An impasse over how taxes are distributed between the state and Indian tribes may mean an end to the deal between the two groups.
The MHA Nation is at odds with the state over the tax rate – and how much of the oil and gas tax comes to the tribes.
Jim Olson reports.
Tribal Chaiman Mark Fox is concerned the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikira Tribes may have to pull out of an agreement with the state over division of tax proceeds from oil and gas production on the reservation.
(Mark Fox, MHA Nation Tribal Chairman) “We have to look at the possibility of pulling out of the agreement. No longer being part of the agreement.”
He says the state violated the most recent agreement – where the tribes and state split tax money 50-50 – when lawmakers cut the oil extraction tax from 6.5 to 5% two years ago.
(Mark Fox, MHA Nation Tribal Chairman) “If you read the agreement the agreement says that tax rate can only be changed if both parties agree. And we didn’t agree.”
But beyond that, Fox is negotiating something even larger with the state – he wants the tribes to receive all of the tax proceeds from production on trust land – the vast majority of the reservation land.
(Mark Fox, MHA Nation Tribal Chairman) “And who’s responsible for taking care of the people on that trust land? The Three Affiliated Tribes. Let us retain the tax that’s rightfully ours. That’s what we’re asking for.”
Fox says he has meetings with legislators and the governor’s staff yet this week – trying to come up with a deal before the legislative session ends. He says negotiations have been made more important by another recent law that requires the governor to get legislative approval for deal with the tribes.
(Mark Fox, MHA Nation Tribal Chairman) “And when they do that in their little tug-o-war, they get us involved in that. Now you don’t get things done with the tribe. Now you’ve got problems that fester and they get bigger and bigger and a lack of communication and lack of cooperation – a vehicle to carry those out is missing and we need to bring that back.”
For Fox, the answer is clear – tribes should get the tax money generated from oil and gas production on tribal trust land.
(Mark Fox, MHA Nation Tribal Chairman) “That tax that comes from wells on trust lands, that needs to come to the Tribes. And then we can use it for roads, for housing development, for the things we need – law enforcement for example.”
In New Town, Jim Olson, KX News.
Fox says the financial impact on the state of agreeing to the tribes’ proposal would be small – but the impact on the people of the reservation would be very large.