- Associated Press - Saturday, April 9, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Some members of North Dakota’s oil-rich Three Affiliated Tribes are asking for an audit to see how its money has been spent.

Doreen Lyons of New Town is circulating a petition asking for an independent audit of the tribe’s spending. The petition had garnered nearly 1,500 signatures by Friday.

Lyons said she and other tribal members have grown suspicious about where the money has gone. She said services on the Fort Berthhold reservation haven’t improved substantially, and tribal members’ needs aren’t being met.

“We have nothing to show for it,” she told the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1UQ7Eva ).

About 20 percent of the more than 1 million barrels of oil produced daily in North Dakota come from the reservation occupied by the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes.

State and tribal officials signed a revenue-sharing agreement in 2008 that has raised about $1.5 billion for the state and the tribes to date. The reservation contains portions of six counties, covering more than 1,500 square miles. About 4,500 of the approximately 12,000 tribal members live on the reservation, tribal officials have said.

Tribal Chairman Mark Fox said pamphlets have been distributed and meetings held explaining the tribe’s budget. Fox also said an audit of the tribe’s fiscal year 2015 budget is underway and should be completed in the next two months.

Fox said members have plenty to show for oil activity on the reservation. From 2008 to 2014, each member received $1,500. Since 2014, each member has received an additional $5,000, Fox said. He said the tribe is providing insurance for all tribal members and also has spent money on infrastructure improvements such as roads and schools.

Fox said he will take the petition under consideration, as he would any other request from tribal members.

Fox hopes tribal members can take a look at the information they have put out about the budget and provide constructive ideas for him to take back to the tribal council. A new budget should be approved soon, and he plans to hold more outreach meetings to tell tribal members about it.

“All I can say right now is be a little more patient,” he said.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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