Chairman Fox UND’s 2019 Distinguished Indian Law SpeakerMandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation Chairman Mark N. Fox was the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Law’s Distinguished Indian Law Speaker for 2019. In his presentation, Chairman Fox discussed the challenges of energy and economic development in Indian Country.
As the University of North Dakota School of Law’s Distinguished Indian Law Speaker, Chairman Fox addressed students and school representatives. The program was part of UND’s Time Out Week, organized by the university’s Indian Studies Association.
Chairman Fox, a United States Marine Corps Veteran and graduate of the University of North Dakota School of Law, attributes his leadership skills to his military service and law school experience.
“Much of what we’ve been able to accomplish is due to my experience at law school and being a U.S. Marine,” said Chairman Fox. “They taught me how to lead our nation and our people.”
Chairman Fox began his presentation with an overview of the MHA Nation’s history, including its role as an aboriginal trade center before colonization. The MHA Nation played a vital role in the North American trade economy, with the Missouri River an essential part of its culture and commerce.
“We’re tied to the river,” said Chairman Fox.
Chairman Fox also discussed the myriad challenges that arose due to rapid oil development on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The Bakken Region Oil Boom had numerous negative impacts on the MHA Nation, including the burden it placed on tribal infrastructure.
“There was no planning for negative impacts,” said Chairman Fox. “There was no preparedness by state or federal governments.”
Chairman Fox also described the difficulty many tribal governments face in securing outside capital needed to address gaps in federal assistance. Despite these hurdles, however, Chairman Fox plans to expand tribal business ventures on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.
Under Chairman Fox’s leadership, the MHA Nation has begun a food sovereignty initiative based on the Netherlands’ sustainable agriculture model. The plan will involve capturing gas flared from Fort Berthold Indian Reservation’s numerous oil wells to power greenhouses. The initiative is Chairman Fox’s latest move toward diminishing the MHA Nation’s dependence on the federal government.
Chairman Fox is also dedicated to responsible development in the realm of natural resource extraction. Chairman Fox plans to expand the MHA Nation’s business ventures in the oil industry while maintaining safe practices to ensure environmental protection.
“30 percent of non-renewable energy resources in the U.S. are in Indian Country and on trust land,” said Chairman Fox. “Water is more valuable than oil.”
The MHA Nation’s success in energy development is evinced by massive improvements in tribal infrastructure and services. The tribe now has a drug treatment facility in Bismarck, a new Public Safety and Judicial Center, and its own Drug Enforcement Agency. The tribe has built over 300 new homes, tackling the reservation’s severe housing shortage. The MHA Nation has also started an educational trust fund to enable tribal members to pursue higher education.
The Fox Administration is dedicated to diminishing federal dependency and pursuing MHA Nation tribal sovereignty. Chairman Fox’s food sovereignty initiative, business expansion plan, and investment strategies are in keeping with his philosophy on regaining his Nation’s economic strength.
“We are going to grow our own food, generate our own power,” said Chairman Fox. “These are things sovereign nations do.”