The Bakken shale formation beneath the reservation of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes is responsible for over 295 thousand barrels of oil per day. Chairman Tex Hall and other tribal leaders work to make the tribes debt free and to establish preferential hiring measures to ensure that Native Americans receive jobs. North Dakota now has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation and is experiencing population growth triple the national rate.
The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation does not have the infrastructure to cope with the oil boom. Housing shortages force many tribal members to live in RV campers within sight of the tribe's new yacht. North Dakota has the highest traffic fatality rate in the nation due to traffic volume and drunk driving.
The 23 officers of the tribal police force cannot effectively patrol the almost 1-million acres of Fort Berthold, and the court has had to dismiss cases for failure to prosecute. With the economic growth of the region, drug cartels, gangs, and human traffickers moved into western North Dakota, causing the drug-related crime rate to double. Jurisdictional rules allow many non-Native American criminals on the reservation to walk free.
The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes seek to preserve their cultural heritage in the midst of the oil boom. Tribal government promises to build new infrastructure, but Jodi Lee Spotted Bear—who is training members to operate the tribal radio station and newspaper—questions their spending practices. Chairman Tex Hall wants Fort Berthold to be independent from a reliance on federal support. At the end, preview a video about a former refugees running for office in a Georgia town.
Credits: Native American Boomtown
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The Bakken oil boom is bringing billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to North Dakota. A substantial part of the oil production is concentrated on an Indian reservation. Fort Berthold Reservation’s 1,000-plus oil wells have brought in money and jobs for some, but oil has also brought danger—organized crime, hard drugs, traffic fatalities—and other problems. Tribal members speak about the benefits and consequences of the boom.
Length: 26 minutes
Copyright date: ©2014
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