Working together to protect the land
By Jerry W. Kram
Kandi Mossett is a former New Town resident who now lives in Billings and works with the Indigenous Environmental Network. She traveled to Washington, D.C., about 18 months ago with a group of students to meet with officials of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Justice. While there she found out that the office had visited 19 states meeting with minority communities affected by environmental concerns.
"After hearing that they had gone to 19 states to do listening sessions I found out they hadn’t been to North Dakota," Mossett said. "I said, ‘How could you not come to North Dakota? Don’t you know what’s happening there?’ That’s how we got the ball rolling."
A dozen speakers from federal, state and tribal programs acted as speakers and trainers - including Marilyn Hudson who spoke on tribal history and Allan Demeray who talked about traditions ways of settling disputes. Mossett said about 50 area people attended the first two days of the three day event held at the Northern Lights Center in New Town.
"This is supposed to be an alternative dispute resolution workshop," Mossett said. "People are supposed to be learning how we can work with our own tribal government, the oil industry and others in ways that don’t involve filing a lawsuit."
Mossett said the main thing people attending have demanded is information about the impacts the reservation is suffering from the oil boom.
"People are just craving information," she said. "What are the numbers? What are the statistics? Where do we go to find out the information about spills?"