July 8, 2008

Good Will, Relationships Built Step at a Time

The town of Parshall and Three Affiliated Tribes last week signed a cooperative agreement to share a new water intake, treatment plant and distribution system that will serve Parshall, the reservation, the energy industry and the surrounding rural area.

Lake Sakakawea's low levels in recent years has forced Parshall to extend it's existing water intake system under crisis conditions. And many living on the reservation must haul drinking water. It's important to resolve these issues, as well as insuring that there's water to float energy development.

Resolution has been a long time in coming. That said, city and tribal officials deserve credit for coming to an agreement that will result in practical, positive change for the benefit of city and reservations residents.

Recently, the Tribune also reported that the Three Affiliated Tribes and the state of North Dakota created a "one-stop oil production tax for wells drilled on the reservation, ending tax uncertainty and making it simpler to develop the reservation's oil resources." And not long ago, tribal officials assumed more responsibility for local law enforcement.

Taken individually these actions on water, oil and crime are practical steps that will benefit Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and the neighboring communities. Together, they represent a progressive strategy on the part of Tribal Chairman, Marcus Wells Jr., and the present tribal council to improve the quality of life for their people.

It should not and will not stop here. Wells acknowledged additional needs in the areas of housing and business development.

The important thing would be to take well-measured thoughtful steps, one at a time, managing change in terms of resources and the political environment, maintaining operations that are accountable and transparent.

The tasks faced here are neither simple nor small. They will require continued hard work and focus to bring them to fruition. Not everything will work as planned, it never does, but the steps taken here are steps in the right direction.

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