It’s Thursday, March 25, and the Biden administration is restoring tribal mineral rights that the Trump administration took away.
Last week, the Interior Department returned a portion of the Missouri River to the jurisdiction of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. In 2020, the Trump administration had deemed the section of the river to be under the jurisdiction of the state of North Dakota instead of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, also known as the MHA Nation.
The tribes had challenged the Trump administration opinion, written by former Solicitor Daniel Jorjani, in the District Court of the District of Columbia, which granted a stay to the Interior Department to review the decision. Meanwhile, the state of North Dakota maintains that it has mineral rights on the tribal lands.
“We are pleased the federal government has chosen to follow the law and withdraw the false Jorjani opinion which sought to illegally take away the MHA Nation’s property rights to the Missouri River bed within the Fort Berthold Reservation,” said MHA Nation Tribal Chairman Mark Fox in a statement. “This is the right decision.”
The decision came days after Deb Haaland was confirmed as Secretary of the Interior, becoming the first Native American cabinet secretary. Haaland has promised to support tribal consultation and treaty rights. “Today’s action will allow us to review the matter and ensure the Interior Department is upholding its trust and treaty obligations in accordance with the law,” said an Interior Department spokesperson in a statement.
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— Jena Brooker