Treaty Rights and Property Rights

For nearly two centuries, the federal government has repeatedly affirmed the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation’s property rights to the Missouri River. The legal and historical precedent is clear, MHA Nation owns the rights to the river and the river bed within the boundaries of our reservation.                                                                                                                     

Yet today, our ability to access the riverbed mineral revenue below the Missouri River is being threatened.

There has never been a time when our property rights to the lands flooded by the Garrison Dam were under question. In fact, our rights to the minerals below the Missouri River were recognized before North Dakota even became a state. You only have to look at historical records and past actions by Congress to see the ten times the federal government has affirmed the minerals below the Missouri River belong to the MHA Nation.
— John Fredericks III, Legal Counsel and MHA Nation tribal member

By refusing to recognize our rights to the minerals below the Missouri, the current administration is not only violating our rights, it is denying the MHA Nation’s ability to be more financially self-sufficient.  

Our property rights would allow us to depend more on our own resources and less on the federal government, government agencies are willfully ignoring precedent to deny us these rights.

The U.S. government has affirmed MHA Nation’s property rights to the minerals below the Missouri River 10 times.

  • Treaties with the Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa Tribes

  • Treaty of Fort Laramie

  • Agreement of Fort Berthold

  • Executive Order establishing the Fort Berthold Reservation

  • Executive Order allowing railroad construction at Fort Berthold

  • Agreement between United States and the MHA Nation that reduced the Reservation boundaries

  • Legal opinion by the Department of Interior’s top lawyer recognizes MHA's mineral rights

  • Legal decision by the Department of Interior’s Board of Land Appeals

  • Fort Berthold Mineral Restoration Act

  • Legal opinion by the Department of Interior affirms MHA's mineral rights

The 1936 legal opinion must be reaffirmed in order to restore justice and return to self-sustainability for the MHA Nation.