May 16, 2013

MHA Nation holds groundbreaking for refinery

MHA Nation holds groundbreaking for refinery
By Jerry W. Kram

After a winter that never seemed to end, the sun came out and a warm breeze welcomed leaders of the MHA Nation, oil industry representatives and many guests and dignitaries to the site of Thunder Butte Petroleum’s proposed refinery near Makoti.
Like the winter, at one point it seemed like getting all the permits and approvals necessary for the project was going to be a never ending process, but on May 8, 20 ceremonial shovels cut into the earth to mark the start of construction on the project that the tribal government has been pursuing since 2002.
Tribal elder Tony Mandan blessed the earth where the refinery will be built. He prayed to the four directions while he used branches of sage to sprinkle Missouri River water. Then 20 golden shovels bit into the sod and the official start of the refinery construction project began.
“The earth has been blessed, the shovels have turned dirt,” said Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes. “Thunder Butte is one of the most sacred buttes on our reservation. It is the home of the Low Cap clan, one of the  important clans in our history. That is why we had a Low Cap elder do the blessing. We chose that name for our tribal oil company because that name will signify success.”
Hall said the ancestors of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people were poor, but they managed to feed and educate their children. The oil boom, he said, has brought an opportunity to create jobs and economic development so that future generations can prosper.
“The (Garrison) dam separated our people,” Hall said. “The oil boom is an opportunity to bring us all back together.”
The ceremony marked the beginning of construction on the first of four phases of the refinery project, said Richard Mayer, CEO of Thunder Butter Petroleum Services, the tribally owned company that is building and will operate the refinery. The first phase will be the construction of an oil transload facility that will tie the refinery together with the Canadian Pacific Railroad Line that runs through the property.

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