Rule would change native oil royalty payments
By Jerry W. Kram
While the meeting was supposed to be about a narrow topic of how royalties are calculated for allottees and tribes for oil wells drilled on reservation lands, the topics discussed at the meeting in the New Town Civic Center ranged widely as tribal members took their chance to send a message to the higher-ups in the federal Department of Interior who oversees the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and other agencies who have a direct impact on live on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
Officials with the federal Office of Resources Revenue were in New Town for a consultation on a proposed rule change that would affect the way royalties would be calculated for tribal members and tribal governments that have mineral rights on Indian reservations. Debra Tschudy and Paul Tyler fielded questions from the crowd that showed tribal members have a sound knowledge and a great mistrust of how the oil industry operates on the reservation.
While the discussion ranged over many topics related to oil development impacts and federal oversight on the reservation, Tschudy and Tyler kept returning the conversation to the rulemaking in order to be able to bring back a full critique of the proposed rule from tribal members. Tschudy said Fort Berthold was chosen to be the first reservation the officials visited for consultation because more than half of all oil produced on reservations comes from Fort Berthold.