Three Affiliated Tribes hits $1M oil benchmark

2010-02-24T17:25:00Z Three Affiliated Tribes hits $1M oil benchmarkLauren Donovan | Bismarck Tribune
February 24, 2010 5:25 pm  • 

More than $1 million in oil production income is being paid out every month to members and the treasury of the Three Affiliated Tribes.

The tribe hit the million-dollar benchmark late last fall and it appears there won’t be any looking back for a long time to come.

Income from oil development goes to 4,200 tribal members who live on the reservation and another 3,000 who live elsewhere. That’s more than half the total tribal membership.

Some also goes directly to the tribal government, which has mineral ownership in about half the reservation’s 1 million acres.

Oil production is just getting started on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, which sits right over the big play Bakken formation.

Production is speeding up because permit applications are clearing a lengthy 49-step permitting process that is unique to tribal and federal trust lands.

There are 39 producing wells inside the reservation and another 82 ready-to-go drill permits in hand. There were 10 producing wells a year ago.

The most intense development is on the northeast side of the reservation, in the Parshall and Sanish fields, where oil production from the Bakken has been going gangbusters.

Individual tribal members and the tribe have been paid more than $180 million, primarily from leases.

Over time, production income will far outpace lease income.

Austin Gillette is the fiduciary trust officer for the Office of Special Trustees for American Indians  office at Fort Berthold.

Gillette said federal Office of Special Trustees, which also is unique to reservations, takes in all oil and gas revenue and pays it back out to surface and mineral owners.

It has been object of a lengthy lawsuit by Native Americans alleging trust mismanagement, but Gillette said it’s working well on Fort Berthold.

He said payments are automatic by direct deposit, if requested.

Tribal chairman Marcus Levings said he hopes federal legislation will streamline the ungainly process of getting a drill permit inside a reservation.

The Interior Department, at the request of Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., set up a one-stop shop to expedite the permit requirements from several federal agencies.

Levings said the office has a staff of two and will be fully staffed at five employees.

He said the tribal council is using oil and gas income to pay off debt and provide services to the reservation members.

“We need to use it right, invest in the future and take care of our people,” Levings said.

The tribe also has received nearly $6 million in oil production and extraction taxes, said Fred Fox, tribal energy director.

The tribe and North Dakota have a long term agreement that sets the same oil tax rate on and off the reservation, with the state serving as tax collector for both.

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(20) Comments

  1. cecrtsqrrl701
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    cecrtsqrrl701 - May 05, 2010 12:36 pm
    It seems to me that the half the rez is gonna be rich while the members who dont own land are gonna be left living in poverty.. are they planning to disperse any of this fortune to the other members?
  2. Kandi
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    Kandi - March 02, 2010 4:13 pm
    My name is Kandi Mossett and I'm a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa
  3. Kandi
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    Kandi - March 02, 2010 4:12 pm
    Why won't you post my entire comment?
  4. ginne1
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    ginne1 - March 01, 2010 9:35 pm
    Thank you cb in nd, but been looking up the information you gave me, will take me forever to get through it all. But still, if the Indian Country feel's they are the only one being taken by this government, think again. I appreciated and respect what the Indians have had to deal with, but it is now no longer about just you. It is now about the United States. And if we don't quit the pointing of fingers, some other Country will own the United States of America. And they won't give a diddley about the United States history. Having said that, I will continue to study the info you gave me. Thank you again.
  5. Kandi
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    Kandi - March 01, 2010 12:43 pm
    My name is Kandi Mossett and I'm a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa
  6. Kandi
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    Kandi - March 01, 2010 11:50 am
    My name is Kandi Mossett and I'm a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa
  7. cb in nd
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    cb in nd - February 26, 2010 8:52 am
    Ginne1-MHA is not in the financial position that you think they are. Even with all this oil money coming in-we still have a long ways to go. Since you seem so interested in Indian Country, I invite you to learn more by way of internet since you post here. Check out and also try and Also read up other nations as we are all different. You also mentioned the treaty-go ahead and read the Ft. Laramie Treaty which MHA is under. Another good one to read is the Cobell lawsuit....what I'm pointing out with that is: not everything is in the past.
  8. ginne1
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    ginne1 - February 25, 2010 8:51 pm
    By all means they should keep the money from their land.It is, after all, their land. But again, are they paying taxes, as everyone else has to? This could help the United States. My question is still, do they pay taxes on this money from oil. If not, why not? Is there a treaty that says they do not have to pay taxes ever ever again? Maybe that is in the Treaties, I do not know. And again other Reservations are in need of help. Is it only my tax money that help's or could the oil money help other Reservations, other than Grant's and Loans. That part I will have to check out as I did not know they did this.
  9. NDresident
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    NDresident - February 25, 2010 5:34 pm
    ginne1: I guess one could argue that there are a lot of wealthy farmers out there who are reaping the benefits because they own the mineral rights under their land, and are becoming millionaires from oil production on their should the government pull the plug on any farm subsidies they are receiving also? or any type of government program for that matter, like medicare or social security retirement benefits? I sure don't think so. I say let the tribal members bask in the glory of this.
  10. BismarckJim
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    BismarckJim - February 25, 2010 4:25 pm
    Number one rated basketball team? I presume you are talking about highschool or something? I don't follow such things. Either way, any reservation I have ever been to looks like a post apocalyptic third world country. Thats not to say I have been to many. As for the Rapid City comment please clarify. I was there a few years back and there seemed to be a large number of transients there. Not too attractive to me. As for me being a racist, I have very close friends who are native american. Thanks.
  11. TheDude
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    TheDude - February 25, 2010 11:05 am
    BismarckJim: since the BT lets you post your thinly veiled racism I hope they post my response to your saying the oil is the only thing of value there: HOLY SHIZZ MAN ARE YOU FRICKIN SERIOUS!!! There are beautiful children there, rich customs and traditions (indian AND WHITE). There are people there man, human beings! Btw, where do you think your #1 rated basketball team comes from!? You know that thorton kid is an enrolled tribal member to? hopefully one day it will be RapidCityJim. Go there, there's more of your kind there.
  12. TheDude
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    TheDude - February 25, 2010 10:52 am
    Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: it is sad that any comment favoring the indians is unpopular. hopefully bismarck won't turn into the next rapid city and hopefully my comment will get posted. can you imagine the govt knowingly putting indians on the biggest oil patch in america!! if they could have a do over huh!!
  13. BismarckJim
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    BismarckJim - February 25, 2010 9:57 am
    Oil is the most valuable thing you will ever find there.
  14. cb in nd
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    cb in nd - February 25, 2010 9:46 am
    So there is oil for the tribes. Along with that comes good and bad. Some people are getting rich. Some are not. If only the three affiliated Tribes can get back to being self-sufficient before the dam was built and pay off their debts too. Some people do not understand what a treaty with the US Government means. Or are they implying the US Government doesn't have to keep those with native americans...just those treaties with other people/nations? Ginne1: FYI-reservations do share with one the form of loans/grants.
  15. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
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    Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious - February 25, 2010 8:08 am
    This is going to be an unpopular comment, but good for them. Historically, the "white" man "gave" the american Indians the crappiest land we could and then failed to honor the treaties they signed. I, for one, am glad to see that the land is producing something of great value.
  16. ginne1
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    ginne1 - February 24, 2010 10:25 pm
    Glad you have the land they are drilling on. Mine is Farming land. No oil well's in site where I live. I just pay taxes.
  17. SE Forty
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    SE Forty - February 24, 2010 9:59 pm
    Drill baby Drill!
  18. ginne1
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    ginne1 - February 24, 2010 9:33 pm
    Far be it from me that thing's have outlived it usefullness. I am just tired that alot of People feel in 2010 we still owe them. There ARE alot of OTHER Indian Reserveration's that could use this help. Maybe sharing from one reservation to the other could help. (The Reservation's do not get along. I am trying to figure out what tribe I stoled it from.) Just a thought. If I hear one more Person I stole their land....Oh Well, that would be between that person and me.
  19. DustOff3
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    DustOff3 - February 24, 2010 9:12 pm
    ginne 1, Are YOU suggesting the BIA has outlived its usefulness? Oh, are you going to catch grief over that?? I'm with you cause I do not think the BIA has contributed to the improvement of the community they are suppose to...just a white guy's opinion and you know what that's worth??
  20. ginne1
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    ginne1 - February 24, 2010 7:19 pm
    Is federal and state getting their tax money from this? Are the people receiving the monies still getting free Healthcare and Housing? I sure hope more becomes of this then just more money to only a certain few. Maybe the people receiving this money could pay some back in to the Federal and State Government. If nothing else, so China won't own us anymore than it does, helping the United States.
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