The recently re-elected members of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation Tribal Business Council (TBC) hosted an Appreciation Dinner on Saturday, Jan. 26 at the 4 Bears Casino Grand Ballroom. The event allowed tribal leaders to express their gratitude for elders, veterans, energy partners, and all members of the MHA Nation.
South Segment Councilman Cory Spotted Bear, North East Segment Councilman Mervin Packineau, Four Bears Segment Councilwoman V. Judy Brugh, and Chairman Mark N. Fox were re-elected during 2018’s primary and general elections.
Saturday’s Appreciation Dinner allowed members of the Tribal Business Council to express their gratitude to the MHA Nation and share their plans for the next four years. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith and Turtle Mountain Chairman Jamie Azure were also in attendance.
In his speech, South Segment Councilman Cory Spotted Bear discussed the many improvements made in South Segment since his 2014 election. “I’m real thankful for what we have to look forward to in Twin Buttes and on Fort Berthold. I’m thankful to serve the community of Twin Buttes.”
Councilman Spotted Bear also discussed his plans to work with the TBC to create positive change on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.
“I plan to support our Chairman, I plan to stand beside him and our council so we can make a lot more accomplishments,” said Councilman Spotted Bear.
Councilman Spotted Bear also thanked Chairman Fox for his commitment to investing profits from the Bakken Region Oil Boom into renewable energy.
“I’m thankful our Chairman has the foresight to take that finite resource and reinvest it into perpetual renewable energy,” said Councilman Spotted Bear. “We are going to create a healthier, better, more productive future for our kids.”
North East Segment Councilman Mervin Packineau was elected to a fifth term in last fall’s election.
“I really appreciate being able to serve the people of Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, and especially the Parshall/Lucky Mound area,” said Councilman Packineau.
Councilman Packineau also congratulated the other councilmembers on their re-election and thanked his family and the audience for their support.
“It’s been 16 years going on five terms, and it’s all gone by fast,” said Councilman Packineau. “All the councils that I’ve served on and the members that I served with, everyone’s had good intentions.”
Councilman Packineau also thanked Chairman Fox for proposing that each segment receive money to invest in their communities, as it has led to increased development on the reservation.
“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” said Councilman Packineau.
Four Bears Councilwoman V. Judy Brugh was elected for a third term in November.
“It’s always a pleasure serving with the Tribal Business Council,” said Councilwoman Brugh. “It’s my honor to be here this evening and serve my people. They are the most important thing to me right now in my life, along with my family.”
Chairman Fox began his speech by thanking everyone who encouraged him to run for re-election.
“I thank those of you who supported and had confidence in me,” said Chairman Fox.
Chairman Fox also detailed the work his administration plans to undertake in the next four years.
“We have a legislature we’re working with, we have a tax agreement to change, we have legislative bills we have to see through, we have federal policy that we have to address,” said Chairman Fox. “We have to protect our assets, including the riverbed.”
Since 2014, the Fox administration has guided the development of over $200 million in infrastructure, investments in the Peoples Fund, the continued expansion of 4 Bears Casino into a “destination resort,” and a new, state-of-the-art drug treatment center in Bismarck. Chairman Fox has also worked to provide for tribal members living on and off the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Since taking office, distributions to tribal members have increased, and all eligible members have been provided with health insurance.
“That’s part of outreach. That’s part of making sure we’re taking care of all 16,000 enrolled members, not just those who live on the reservation,” said Chairman Fox.
Chairman Fox also plans to continue working on a major bill to change the tax agreement with the state of North Dakota.
“We do our best to work together,” said Chairman Fox. “That’s always been my philosophy, to work together to do good things for our people.”
Chairman Fox also discussed his long-term goals for the MHA Nation, which include raising the standard of living for all tribal members.
“I don’t care what your last name is. I don’t care what tribe you affiliate with. I don’t care what segment you’re from. I don’t care if you’re on or off [the reservation], said Chairman Fox. “The goal is to leave nobody behind, whether they voted for you or not.”
Chairman Fox, a strong advocate of tribal sovereignty, also discussed the need for tribal nations to focus on self-sustainability in order to rise above generations of social and economic poverty.
“If we are smart, if we work hard and work together, we can pick ourselves up out of this. We will no longer depend on the U.S. government,” said Chairman Fox. “We’ll be exporting our own goods, generating our own power, moving our own economy forward. If we can do that for ourselves, I can promise you that we will again be what we used to be.”
Chairman Fox closed his speech by thanking all those who work to make the MHA Nation stronger.
“We’re not trying to honor ourselves, we just want to thank you for everything you do for our nation,” said Chairman Fox.
Photo by Cheyennea Hart.