MHA Nation and state advance tax negotiations

The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation and the state of North Dakota are in negotiations to increase the tribe’s share of tax revenue generated from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation’s numerous oil wells. The current agreement, which dictates a 50-50 split between the tribe and the state, would be changed to favor the tribe 80 percent to 20 percent on trust land.

Senate Bill 2312, sponsored by Senator Jordan Kannianen, R-Stanley, would provide an additional $33 million to the MHA Nation over the next two years. The proposed split would apply to newly-constructed oil wells on trust land, giving the MHA Nation much-needed revenue for improved infrastructure. The state of North Dakota would receive 20 percent of tax revenue made on trust lands.

The state would receive 80 percent of tax revenue for wells on private fee lands, with the tribe receiving 20 percent.

"This legislation is not about simply splitting the pie, this is about how we have come together in North Dakota,” said ND Governor Doug Burgum at a press conference with tribal leaders on Feb. 5.

The revenue from the proposed bill would allow the MHA Nation to support increased oil development, benefiting both the tribe and the state. The legislation is the result of years-long negotiations between the MHA Nation and the state of North Dakota.

MHA Nation Chairman Mark N. Fox has led the charge in seeking a fair split of tax revenue. Fox, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and graduate of the University of North Dakota School of Law, has spearheaded the taxation issue since first elected Chairman in 2014.

"It’s going to make a significant impact to our nation. It's going to be historical,” said Chairman Fox.

Tribal leaders gathered in Bismarck on Feb. 6 to provide testimony in support of SB 2312 before the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee. The bill will also allow the governor to negotiate with North Dakota tribal leaders on taxation issues without having to wait for the state legislature to be in session.