State seeks to intervene in lawsuit over mineral rights

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The state of North Dakota wants to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation over mineral rights under Lake Sakakawea within the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

MHA Nation is suing the federal government over a decision the U.S. Department of the Interior issued in May concluding that the state is the legal owner of the submerged property.

The state contends that its interests in the dispute may differ from those of the federal government, so it should be allowed to intervene, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

“Three governments have an interest in adjudicating title to the bed of the river -- the Tribe, North Dakota, and the United States,” the state says in its filings. “All three should be allowed to participate in that adjudication.”

At stake is more than $100 million in unpaid royalties and future payments certain to come from oil drilling beneath the original Missouri River bed.

MHA Nation has condemned the state’s effort to intervene.

Further written arguments on whether the state should be allowed to intervene are due to the court later this month.