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Speaker urges tribes to control development
April 17 2014

BISMARCK (UTN) – Tribes in the region have an opportunity to learn from the mistakes and missteps of state government in controlling and managing oil development.

            That was the message from a speaker at a conference focusing on environmental risks in tribal areas.

           Darrell Dorgan spoke April 15 at the Tribal Environmental Risk Mitigation Conference hosted in Bismarck by United Tribes Technical College.


           Dorgan acknowledged that oil development can bring unimagined prosperity to tribes and tribal members. But environmental hazards and unscrupulous business practices threaten reservation areas along with other towns, cities and rural areas across the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming.

           Dorgan is a documentary video producer and activist, and former executive director of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.

            He listed the environmental risks that oil development has introduced across the landscape, such as radioactive waste, toxic chemicals and water pollution.

           Tribes need to do a better job to protect their land and people than the State of North Dakota is now doing in northwest North Dakota, he said, where infrastructure is crumbling, crime is rampant, prices have skyrocketed and half the royalties go out-of-state.

           He asserted that the policies and practices of the North Dakota Health Department lead to increasing oil company profits over protecting the health and welfare of state residents. He questioned whether North Dakota has become a “national sacrifice zone?”

           Dorgan cautioned that asserting tribal sovereignty alone has not been sufficient in the past for tribes to withstand the pressures of major economic developments. He urged tribes to regulate and control oil development on tribal lands in a way that respects the land and makes for safe and prosperous development for future generations.

            Attending the conference were about 100 educators and officials who work with tribal environmental programs in the region.

Click the play button below to Dorgan’s April 15 keynote talk. 

Dorgan Audio File 15:18

Photos: Darrell Dorgan, Dakom Communications/Dorgan Films

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