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<span class="articleLocation”>As some Native American tribes renew their push
for more control over the natural resources on their lands, they
will also urge Congress and President Donald Trump to prohibit
state taxation of energy and resource development on
States are generally prohibited from taxing Indians on
reservations, but they are allowed to tax non-Indian companies
extracting resources from tribal lands.
The tribes, which have their own governments, argue they
should have sole authority to levy taxes on such projects.
Additional state taxes drives away company investment and
economic development, tribal leaders told Reuters.
Tribes including the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA)
Nation in North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields and the Navajo Nation
in the U.S. Southwest said hundreds of millions of dollars in
tax revenues on their energy production goes to the states in
which their reservations are located – with the tribes getting
few state services in return.
“Dual taxation is an impediment to development,” MHA Nation
Chairman Mark Fox said in an interview with Reuters.
More than half of the tax revenues on energy projects “are
taken out of the reservation and not put back in any shape or
manner, aside from paving some state highways.”
Oil drilling on the Indian reservation of Fort Berthold
accounts for about a third of North Dakota’s production.
The North Dakota Treasurer’s office declined to comment.
Native American lands are managed by the federal government,
which provides financial support and services to tribes through
a slew of initiatives – from housing aid, to jobs assistance, to
historic preservation programs. States are not required to
provide services on Indian reservations.
Trump promised during the presidential campaign to strip
away regulations on energy development, and his advisors are
studying ways to ease especially burdensome regulations
governing drilling and mining on tribal lands.
A Trump administration official did not immediately respond
to a request for comment on the question of state taxation.
The Navajo Nation, which has also complained about the state
taxation of tribal energy production in New Mexico, Utah and
Arizona, said it will partner with the MHA Nation to lobby for
changes to policy in Washington this year.
“If we are developing on our own lands, we shouldn’t be
required to pay royalties to the state,” said Jackson Brossy, a
representative of the Navajo Nation in Washington D.C.
Officials in the states of New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona did
not respond to requests for comment.
Fox said that North Dakota has collected close to $1 billion
from shared taxes from oil development on Fort Berthold. The
money could have been better invested by the tribe in
infrastructure and services, as well as programs to tackle the
problems that an oil boom can bring, such as pollution and drug
“We have crime like we’ve never seen before,” Fox said.
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