University of Colorado at Boulder
BMP of Oil and Gas Development

Three Affiliated Tribes (MHA Nation) Laws

The Three Affiliated Tribes, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (Three Affiliated Tribes, a.k.a. MHA Nation), is located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. The Reservation is around 930,000 acres. The Tribal Council is led by the tribal chairperson who is elected by all members of the Nation. Members of each of the six districts elect the six Segment Representatives. The MHA Energy Division manages oil and gas development on the Reservation.

In 2014, the Fort Berthold Reservation has increased oil production from the Bakken Formation to 270,000 barrels per day. The Reservation’s production accounts for thirty percent of the production in North Dakota, and made the Tribe $184 million in oil revenue in under a year. In 2013, the Three Affiliated Tribes and the State of North Dakota agreed that each would get fifty percent of the oil tax revenue. Previously, the state had taken eighty percent.

In 2013, the MHA Nation signed a contract with Park Construction Company to build the first oil refinery, Thunder Butte Clean Fuels Refinery, in Indian Country.

Constitution of the MHA Nation

The Constitution of the Three Affiliated Tribes was approved in 1936.

Art. I – Territory
The jurisdiction of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation shall extend to Indian Trust and Tribal lands within the confines of the Fort Berthold Reservation, as defined in the treaty of September 17, 1851; to lieu lands outside of such boundaries; and to such other lands, within or without such boundaries, as have been or may be hereafter added thereto under any law of the United States, except as otherwise provided by law.

Art. IX – Land
§ 2: The unallotted lands of the Fort Berthold Reservation and all lands which may hereafter be acquired by the Three Affiliated Tribes or by the United States in trust for the Three Affiliated Tribes, shall be held as tribal lands, and no part of such land shall be mortgaged, sold, or ceded. Tribal lands shall not be allotted to individual Indians but may be assigned to members of the Three Affiliated Tribes, or leased, or otherwise used by the Tribes, as hereinafter provided.

MHA Nation Code, Ordinances, and Resolutions

Chap. 15.1, Solid and Hazardous Waste Management and Remediation Code, 1.04.3: It is in the Tribes’ interest to foster, encourage, and promote the development, production, and utilization of natural resources of oil and gas on the reservation in such a manner as will minimize and properly manage all wastes resulting from such operations and to authorize and provide for the operation and development of oil and gas properties in such a manner that the Tribal members, landowners, royalty owners, producers, and the general public realize and enjoy the greatest possible good from these vital natural resources while minimizing and preventing any adverse impacts to public health or the environment.

MHA Nation Resolutions

The MHA Nation governs, in part, by resolution. The MHA Nation Energy Division Handbook includes resolutions regulating oil and gas development, including: