MHA Nation seeks fair alcohol tax share

Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation Chairman Mark N. Fox has been working with the state of North Dakota to secure the tribe’s fair share of alcohol tax revenue generated on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

Chairman Fox, a graduate of the University of North Dakota School of Law and former tribal tax director, has worked toward equitable tax splits for the MHA Nation since 2011. Chairman Fox plans to use alcohol tax dollars for increased drug and alcohol treatment programs for MHA Nation members. 

“We aren’t moving toward a dry reservation, we’re moving toward self-sufficiency,” said Chairman Fox. “Governments are funded by taxes, and our tribal government is no different.

In 2018, North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said the state collects $8.8 million a year in wholesale alcohol taxes and $28 million a year in wholesale tobacco taxes. North Dakota tribes have not received significant shares of the revenue.  Specifically, the MHA Nation receives very little alcohol tax revenue, despite being home to Four Bears Casino and Lodge, a destination resort and concert venue with huge alcohol sales.

Similar to the historic Oil and Gas Compact signed by Chairman Fox and Governor Burgum, which will provide an additional $33 million to the MHA Nation over the next two years and allows a more equitable split of tax revenue on trust lands, Chairman Fox is also seeking government-to-government cooperation in collecting the tribe’s equitable share of alcohol tax revenue. 

The Bakken Region Oil Boom wreaked havoc on reservation roads and public safety due to the influx of transient workers. Crime and addiction issues have surged since the beginning of the boom. Despite the tribe’s economic contributions to the state, the MHA Nation has been shouldering significant costs as result of the oil boom. Increased tax dollars will combat crime, addiction, and fetal alcohol syndrome on the reservation.

The MHA Nation’s Tribal Business Council has been working to counter the negative effects of drugs and alcohol on the Fort Berthold Reservation, including opening the Good Road Recovery Center in Bismarck, ND. Chairman Fox has spearheaded the recovery center and other drug and alcohol treatment initiatives. “85% of crimes committed on Fort Berthold are alcohol and drug-related.  Alcohol can be ruinous,” said Chairman Fox.