9,300 acres formally returned to the MHA Nation

On Monday, July 1, 9,300 acres were formally returned to the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation at a deed-signing held at United Tribes Technical College. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) accepted the tribe’s fee-to-trust application for the Figure Four Ranch property in May. MHA Nation Chairman Mark N. Fox oversaw the return of the 9,300 acres, which were originally promised under the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty.

The BIA recently accepted the MHA Nation’s 2011 request, converting the Figure Four Ranch Property from fee to trust land, meaning it cannot be sold, alienated or transferred to non-Native Americans. It is also nontaxable. 

BIA Midwest Regional Director Tim LaPointe joined Chairman Fox for the official deed-signing in Bismarck. Members of the Tribal Business Council were also in attendance. 

“This was historically our land by the 1851 treaty,” said Chairman Fox. “We lost it during the General Allotment Act, and it has been a significant success for us to regain this land.”

The Figure Four Ranch property was originally included within the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation’s boundaries under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. Chairman Fox said the land will enhance the tribe’s resource management and economic development. 

“It’s reversing the historical trend of reservation land diminishment. We’re increasing our land holdings,” Chairman Fox continued. “It also helps facilitate energy development. With this land being put into trust, it opens the door for our continued development.”

“I’m very proud to have a small role in this, signing the deed and completing the transfer,” said Regional Director LaPointe. “Eight years is a long time.”

Under the Fox administration, the MHA Nation has regained approximately 40,000 acres. During Chairman Fox’s first term, 30,000 acres were returned from the United States Army Corps of Engineers.