Hall on land transfer: ‘we will move forward’
By JILL DENNING GACKLE
BHG News Service
Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, continues to stand firm on the return of land around Lake Sakakawea on the Fort Berthold Reservation to the tribe.
In a letter received Friday by the governor's office, Hall called for no further delays in returning 24,000 acres to the Tribe.
The letter to Gov. Jack Dalrymple said, "The MHA nation is committed to working with the state on this issue, however, we will move forward whether the state is ready or not." Hall said Congress already authorized the return of the lands in the 1984 Fort Berthold Mineral Restoration Act. He said in the letter, "The MHA Nation does not agree with your attempts to rewrite or debate the terms of the law."
Hall said that although the tribe thinks it is entitled to 36,000 acres, it understands the Corps is determined that 12,000 acres are still needed for the project. He said he agreed that the Corps will continue to manage the wildlife and recreation areas surrounding Lake Sakakawea providing the same level of public access as currently permitted. He said that includes Van Hook and Deep Water Bay Wildlife management areas, which the governor expressed concern for in an earlier letter to Hall.
Hall said, "While you described the potential jurisdictional issues as 'difficult' and posing 'no easy solution,' … returning the lands to the MHA nation will actually reduce any jurisdictional confusion by reducing the amount of federal jurisdiction in an area already dominated by tribal lands and jurisdiction."
The letter concluded, "The MHA nation has waited almost 30 years for the Army Corps to fulfill the congressional directive of the Fort Berthold Mineral Reservation Act. We cannot further delay this process to rehash issues that were already addressed in 2006 or debate a law passed in 1984. The letter ended with Hall encouraging the governor to contact the tribe's Washington, D.C. legal counsel.