MHA Nation and state successfully negotiate tax split

The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation and state of North Dakota negotiated legislation that will increase the tribe’s share of tax revenue generated from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation’s numerous oil wells. MHA Nation Chairman Mark N. Fox and members of the Tribal Business Council joined ND Gov. Doug Burgum and other state legislators for a ceremonial bill signing on Thursday, April 11 in Bismarck. 

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

MHA Nation Chairman Fox 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. Chairman Fox guided government-to-government negotiations between the MHA Nation and state, and praised Gov. Burgum for his willingness to cooperate. 

SB 2312 was passed by the ND House and Senate, and signed into law by Gov. Burgum last month. The ceremonial bill signing on April 11 included presentations of star quilts to Gov. Burgum and other essential members of state government. 

The tax revenue will 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.  

At a Tribal Business Council meeting on April 12, Chairman Fox thanked his fellow councilmembers for their unity and support in lobbying for the tax agreement. 

“We got it done,” said Chairman Fox. “I commend the council and everyone else involved. We are committed to responsible development, taking care of our land and water.”

The old agreement, which dictated a 50-50 split between the tribe and the state, has been changed to favor the tribe 80 percent to 20 percent on trust land. The state will receive 80 percent of tax revenue for wells on private fee lands, with the tribe receiving 20 percent.