Kevin Washburn has posted “Another Broken Promise Addressed with the Return of 25,000 Acres to the MHA Nation in North Dakota” on LinkedIn Pulse.
In the late 1940s, the federal government took more than 150,000 acres from the Indian reservation of the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold to build the Garrison Dam and create the lake behind it, known today as Lake Sakakawea. At the time, the project was important for flood control along the Missouri River. The Indian community was distraught to see so much arable land lost to it, but its interests were sacrificed to what was thought by federal officials to be the public good and the project moved forward.
In subsequent legislation, Congress promised to restore at least the small portion of the land that was ultimately determined not to be needed for this important flood control project. For seventy years, the Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation waited patiently. Not quietly, but patiently. It was obvious that the project had taken far more land that it actually needed. MHA tribal leaders frequently met with federal officials and asked when the law would be followed (and the surplus land returned).
Seventy years later, the United States has finally lived up to this promise. Yesterday, the Army Corps announced that it would turn over 25,000 acres of land to the Department of the Interior to be placed in trust for the MHA Nation. The formal process required for this result has stopped and started several times over the years, and was never completed, until yesterday. I congratulate the Army Corps and President Obama’s Indian Affairs team for rectifying this historical injustice.