MHA Nation is suing the US government over mineral rights under the Missouri River.
And more than $100 Million is already hanging in the balance.
KX News has been following this story, and tonight we know the Tribe is asking for the mineral rights back through the Court of Federal Claims.
More than 80 years ago, the Department of Interior ruled mineral rights on the Fort Berthold Reservation belonged to the tribe. However, the Department of the Interior in May overruled the property rights issue and gave the land to the State of North Dakota.
MHA Chairman Mark Fox says the Department of the Interior is supposed to be a trustee of Native Americans. He says it’s their duty to protect tribal lands, not to play into politics.
Chairman Fox: “The Department of Interior violated both its fiduciary duty as the Tribe’s trustee and its treaty obligations when DOI illegally took away the MHA Nation’s rights to the Missouri riverbed and gave these rights to the state of North Dakota in a false M-Opinion issued by DOI Solicitor Daniel Jorjani on May 26, 2020. This new M-Opinion purports to overturn over 80 years of existing DOI precedent, two prior DOI M-Opinions and a binding DOI Interior Board of Land Appeals decision, all finding that the Missouri Riverbed was held in trust by the federal government for the MHA Nation before North Dakota statehood.
This lawsuit in the Court of Federal Claims seeks to hold DOI financially responsible for this illegal taking of our property rights and for the breach of the duties DOI owes to the MHA Nation under its trust responsibilities and our Treaties. MHA Nation will also seek to set aside this wrongfully decided and false Jorjani M-Opinion”