Governor Doug Burgum says a recent Interior Department opinion, which transferred the rights of the riverbed of the Missouri River, located on the MHA Nation, from the tribes to the State of North Dakota.

“The key to this is that the mineral under the river channel belongs to the state,” Burgum said Wednesday on What’s On Your Mind with Scott Hennen. The opinion was issued on May 26 by Solicitor Daniel Jorjani in a 15-page document.

“I have concluded that the State of North Dakota is the legal owner of submerged lands beneath the Missouri River where it flows through the Reservation,” Jorjani wrote in his opinion.

Burgum says the move by the Interior Department will now allow the state of North Dakota to create “an opportunity for us to collaborate with the tribe.”

In his conclusion, Jorjani says, “I advise the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Land Management to take any actions deemed necessarily to comply with this opinion, to include the withdrawal of any existing oil and gas permits for extraction in submerged lands beneath the Missouri River.”