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Both have watched the explosion of oil development taking place on the Fort Berthold reservation located in western North Dakota in the last five years by the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nations and the infusion of wealth and prosperity along with the devastating social and environmental impacts that ‘big oil’ has brought to the MHA Nation.The Fort Peck Assiniboine Sioux Tribes located on the western edge of the Baaken is actively exploring the development of their oil production and potential in the southeastern area of Fort Peck, near Brockton, Montana as an option for the economic development needed to relieve their tribes of extreme poverty and high unemployment.In a recently released oil and gas assessment (April 30, 2013) by the United States Geological Survey, for the Baaken and Three Forks Formations of North and South Dakota and Montana, it was found that the estimate for oil reserves in the region, doubled to 7.4 billion barrels of potentially recoverable oil, a significant increase from 3.65 billion barrels from the 2008 assessment and expands the ‘Baaken Oil Play’ onto tribal ‘homelands’ previously thought to be unproductive.President Obama’s newly appointed Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell stated, “These world-class formations contain even more energy resource potential than previously understood, which is important information as we continue to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil.” More than 4,000 oil wells have been drilled in the Williston Basin since the 2008 assessment, with an estimated 6,000 more to be drilled in the near future.What this means for the tribal nations in the tri-state region is yet to be seen.Two tribes, each positioned on opposite edges of the Baaken Formation have taken differing approaches in the development of their natural resources and their oil and gas potential and the ensuing social and environmental impacts that come with it.
"Every one of us needs to be proactive to protect our water." She also asked the tribal council for access to the tribe's legal resources, as the group would like to include the legal language in the rewriting of the water code giving the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa 'authority' over the Little Shell Aquifer, stating, "According to the Winter's Doctrine, a famous Montana water rights case and Supreme Court ruling, Indian tribes have a legal and inherent right to water.We need to protect our water here in the Turtle Mountains for our kids and grandkids."It wasn't the first time the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa made tribal history by taking a pro environment stand for Mother Earth.In November of 2011 No Fracking Way Turtle Mountain presented to the tribal council their presentation on hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' and it's devastating environmental impacts.As of 2011 there were 6,200 active wells in the Williston Basin.In addition, there is an estimated 6.7 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas reserves due to the inclusion of the Three Forks Formation in the new assessment.