Group on Fort Berthold Reservation questions recent Las Vegas purchase

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 7:52 PM CST
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LAS VEGAS & FORT BERTHOLD RESERVATION (KMOT) – Leadership with the Three Affiliated Tribes recently announced a major land purchase in Las Vegas.

But the $90 million purchase raised questions from some members of the tribe as to why the multi-million-dollar deal wasn’t discussed with tribal members until it was finalized.

A recent purchase of 13 acres of land in Las Vegas is being heralded as a major financial investment by leadership with the Three Affiliated Tribes. But not everyone in the tribe is on board with the purchase.

A group of tribal members who call themselves the general council said the purchase should have gone to a vote.

”They’re acting like they have all the supreme authority and they can do what they want with, no you can’t, you have to be accountable with the people’s money,” said Tex Hall, leader of the general council.

Hall served as chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes from 1998 to 2010, but failed in a bit to reclaim the chairmanship in November, losing to the incumbent Mark Fox.

The current chairman said they couldn’t discuss the purchase until it was finalized because MGM asked them to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but he’s adamant they’ve been transparent with the tribe.

”The concept of acquiring land in Las Vegas has always been done and always put out to the public. There’s no hiding of it, there’s no discovering of it,” said Fox.

It’s brought to light the larger issue of who gets to make financial decisions on behalf of the tribe.

”The tribal council is not the tribe, Joe. The people are the tribe. The people make up the tribe,” Hall told KMOT Anchor and News Director Joe Skurzewski.

But Fox said the group led by Hall does not speak for the tribe — rather, the elected members of the tribe’s business council get to make these decisions.

”It is not what our people chose nearly 85 years ago. It is not what they chose, and there’s no legitimate basis or legal basis for it. It’s self-imposed, self-appointed,” said Fox.

Fox added that no individual stands to gain from the purchase, but rather the tribe as a whole.

Fox says the tribe has yet to decide what to do with the land.

The land was part of the site of the 2017 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

He said they are working with MGM to honor those who lost their lives there.

As for Hall and the general council, they plan to meet again Wednesday at the Mandaree Community Center at 5 p.m. to discuss their next steps.