Yellow Bird: A fight for oil on the reservation
"The Three Affiliated Tribes — Sahnish (Arikara), Mandan and Hidatsa — and the areas surrounding the reservation in North Dakota are smack dab in the oil field. The reservation has been slower than the surrounding areas to bring in the oil. But leasing on the reservation has begun to increase in earnest, as the tribe is tantalized by the sight of oil derricks that light up the night sky near the reservation.

Not everyone on the reservation owns land, and not everyone who owns land has the potential for drilling, but the oil is there nonetheless. The Three Affiliated Tribes, as a whole, also own land for all the people, and some of that will be leased for drilling.

All of this potential and possibility have brought out the worst in some of our people. Two meetings held in the last month were full of rancor and heated arguments. Players from the past such as former tribal chairmen Tex Hall, Bud Mason and Wilbur Wilkinson (who was jailed after his term in office) were prominent, several people who attended a meeting told me.

We’ve had infighting before. When you have a reservation composed of three different tribes, two with different cultures, such can be expected. This time, however, things may be raised to a higher level because there is a lot of money involved.

As I told my mother and aunts (who could get rowdy at meetings), make sure you have all the facts before you jump into the fray with both feet.

From what I’ve been hearing, a lot of accusations are being passed around. But are these accusations the truth? We owe it to each other to listen to the whole story and find the truth. We need to check things out, and we need to do it now before things get out of hand."

Get the Story:
Dorreen Yellow Bird: Will oil fuel hostility or generosity? (The Grand Forks Herald 3/29)
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