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Read online @ B A K K E N O I L B I Z . C O M / d i g i t a l - j o u r n a l 13 1-855-444-mats (6287) • Extensive analysis performed by Shawn Regan, researcher at the Property and Environment Research Center, Boz- eman, Montana, identified five ways the federal govern- ment stands in the way of Native-American prosperity. 1) The federal government owns and manages In- dian land. 2) Federal agencies control almost every element of economic progress on tribal land. 3) Economic growth on tribal land is mired in legal complexities. 4) Energy regulations are preventing tribes from monetizing natural resources on their land. 5) Tribal assets have been continuously mishan- dled by the federal government. What's at stake? Estimates of the value of tribal natural resource assets are currently around $1.5 trillion. Consid- ering future improvement in extraction techniques plus better locating skills, the estimate is likely to increase. In other words, much of the poverty impinging on the lives of Native-Americans would be overcome with thorough and competent resource management on tribal lands. Who's trying to improve things? One group is the Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT), an organization founded in 1975 by 25 tribes dedicated to obtaining control of the natural resources on their land. Land belonging to CERT members contains 40 percent of US uranium, four percent of the country's oil and gas, and 30 percent of western coal. It also covers 56 million acres in 32 states. One CERT fighter who battled the mismanagement of Indian assets by the federal government was Yellow Bird Woman, otherwise known as Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfoot Nation. She grew up on the Blackfoot Reservation in northwest Montana and eventually became the treasurer of the tribe. In her capacity as treasurer she found extensive errors in the management of funds gen- erated through logging, oil and gas production, grazing fees, and mineral extraction on tribal lands. The errors resulted in a huge shortfall that was estimated far into the billions of dollars. One estimate was a staggering $176 billion. In 1996, Cobell became the lead plaintiff in a class-ac- tion case against the federal government seeking redress for gross abuses of trust on behalf of 300,000 individual Indians. The case wound through the court system and was settled in 2009 for $3.4 billion, an amount far less ➤ continued, pg 14

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