by Antonia Gonzales
Randy Phelan, vice president of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, was among governors, mayors and stakeholders meeting with the Trump administration this week to discuss how to improve U.S. infrastructure, which included energy talks.
The tribe has been working on oil and gas development for the last nine years. The reservation sits in the heart of Bakken oil and gas reserves.
Phelan met with the president, vice president and senior administration officials at the White House.
“Across Indian Country we need to listen and be part of the process–be heard and make sure our people are represented,” Phalen said. “Opportunity’s there. we just have to make sure we key on opportunity.”
In March, the tribe’s chairman, Mark Fox, told National Native News there are pros and cons of this type of energy development. He says one benefit is revenue.
“On Fort Berthold, with well over a billion dollars paid out in royalties paid out since 2008, two-thirds of that have gone out to individual allottees or tribal members who own land,” Fox said. “For the first time in the history of our tribe since we’ve interacted with the United States government, many of our families, many of our elders have been able to realize royalty revenue that they can do things like get new homes, better car, take care of their grandchildren–do things that they’ve never been able to do that before. So we’ve fostered and supported that development.”
Royalties are also helping the tribe with education, health care and housing. Fox says cons include negative influences from the industry such as crime and environmental impacts.
The Trump administration has vowed a new era for American infrastructure, which included green-lighting the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipeline projects, saying they create jobs and will boost the economy.