Mineral rights on hold amid North Dakota tribes’ lawsuit

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A U.S. Interior Department opinion rolling back an Obama-era memo stating mineral rights under the original Missouri River bed should belong to the Three Affiliated Tribes has been put on hold by a federal judge until arguments can be heard in the case. 

The memo filed May 26 by Daniel Jorjani, solicitor for the department, said a historical review shows the state is the legal owner of submerged lands beneath the river where it flows through the Fort Berthold Reservation. 

The tribes argue that three previous federal opinions dating to 1936 have confirmed their ownership of the Missouri River riverbed, including a 2017 memo by former solicitor Hilary Tompkins.

The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation sued the government last month.

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