Opinion

Tex Hall: Tribe's $100M-plus crisis calls for solutions



"I am writing in response to the wildly inaccurate and biased article by Jodi Rave about the current governmental crisis at the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.

Make no mistake, there are problems on our reservation, but the fault doesn't lie with my administration as claimed. The fact is that my administration managed our tribe responsibly for eight years without the kind of uncontrolled spending that has happened since I left office and which has led to unprecedented layoffs.

As we all know, debt in and of itself is not bad. Governments and corporations routinely operate with debt. The key is that the debt has to be manageable and secured, and that is exactly what our debt was. The fact is that under my administration, all tribal spending and borrowing was audited every year. When I took office, we had failing audits. By the time I left office, our tribe had four consecutive years of good audits in a row. This is public record.

The reason for all of this is that after I was elected chairman, I put into place a long-term plan to invest in schools, over 200 completed master degrees for tribal members, new Head Start buildings, community water lines, elder organizations, our Boys and Girls Club, land purchases, community centers, and new housing. All spending decisions were made with the approval of the council, which the current chairman sat on for eight years, including four years as treasurer and two as vice-chairman. In fact, approval is required under our constitution for any spending.

Nevertheless, one of the reasons I ran for a third term was to bring more fiscal responsibility to the tribe, because I saw the potential for misspending without strong leadership. So last fall, I campaigned on a platform to create a new constitution with a balanced budget, separation of powers, and the power of the people to recall elected officials."

Get the Story:
Tex Hall: Tribal spending problems not fault of previous administration (The Billings Gazette 2/21)

Relevant Links:
Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation - http://www.mhanation.com

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