Yellow Bird: North Dakota tribe at turning point with oil
"Labor Day weekend was perfect for roasting and drying corn. Out in the western part of the state, the strong, hot winds dried the corn almost as fast as I could pour it into the screened trays.

My weekend also was about hearing from candidates for the tribal council of the Three Affiliated Tribes. The candidates are vying to represent the White Shield, N.D. segment of the Fort Berthold reservation; some spoke to my family and me. Our election is in November like the national elections.

It’s not as momentous as the presidential election, but we will elect someone to represent our community on the council at a time when clear, intelligent and fair thinking are so important. We are, after all, knee-deep in oil and will profit from the green that will follow the pumping of that black gold. The Baaken shale formation underlies a good part of the reservation.

I love this land. It’s my prairie — the gopher holes and coyote holes, the big granite rocks, the millions of prairie plants and the juneberry, chokecherry and plum buffalo-berry trees that always have fruit.

How you could possibly not love this land — this extremely wonderful part of the Earth?

That’s what’s at stake — our part of the Earth, where are ancestors are buried and our leaders will determine the fates of our families and tribe. But I fear the candidates don’t know or understand the high stakes. The oil wealth is coming, and how we handle it could improve our communities or destroy them."

Get the Story:
COLUMNIST DORREEN YELLOW BIRD: Bracing for change as the oil dollars flow (The Grand Forks Herald 9/3)

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