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Native Sun News: Tex Hall ousted in North Dakota tribal primary

The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

Tex Hall. Photo Courtesy Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation

Hall bites the dust
Investigation of Hall reveals possible crimes
By Karin Eagle
Native Sun News Staff Writer

NEWTOWN, N.D. — The incumbent President of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Tribes of North Dakota, Tex Hall, was ousted from office last Tuesday.

After months of an investigation called for by members of the Three Affiliated Tribes, a 66 page document has been released detailing the business activities of Hall.

During a non-violent protest outside of the administration building tribal council members unlocked the doors that the tribal police had locked in an attempt to bar entrance to anyone. The tribal council distributed several copies to the crowd of tribal members.

The 66 pages of factual findings into Hall’s activities, along with 100 pages of legal analysis and 200 pages of exhibit documents were presented to the tribal council Aug. 14 by special investigator Stephen H. Hill. The tribe spent $220,000 commissioning the report

The court documents allege that Hall used his office to demand $1.2 million from oil and gas company Spotted Hawk Development before he would sign its development plan. The documents also claim he used his position as chairman to secure more than $580,000 in payments for a water-hauling company to James Henrikson. Henrikson has been charged with murder for hire in the deaths of two North Dakota men.

The report further alleges he unfairly competed with other tribal oil service companies.

Hall released a statement following the release of the documents to the council dismissing them as a “smear campaign” spearheaded by one of his opponents on the ballot, Damon Williams, who is a tribal attorney.

Williams admits that he was behind the Hall financial investigation and has no regrets aside from some concerns over his family’s safety.

Hall and Williams were among six candidates on the most recent primary election ballot. Others were Ken Hall, Mark Fox, Randy Phelan, and former chairman Marcus Levings.

Hall came in fourth in the primary election.

The two top vote-getters, Fox, the tribal tax director, and Williams, will face off in the Nov. 4 general election.

Williams said the report contains evidence of at least nine potential federal crimes, including extortion and the misuse of tribal funds. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office have been briefed on the report. Neither office was willing to comment on the investigation.

In the report lines are drawn between Hall and Henrikson who ran Maheshu, Hall’s private company with first-tier reservation hiring preference, while running their Blackstone trucking company under it.

Hall said the two businesses shared profits, but later denied making that statement, according to the report.

Alleged in the report Hall used tribal employees to make payments for water-hauling based on Blackstone invoices that were never seen or approved by the tribal council. The report claims that the Spotted Hawk demand for $1.2 million ended only when attorneys said a so-called “settlement” would require Hall to make financial disclosure to the tribal council and remove himself from any official action on the lease and drilling deal.

Neither Hall nor his attorney, Tom Fredericks, supplied requested documents for the investigation. The report also says that no oil companies other than Spotted Hawk Development would be interviewed.

Steve Kelly, a former tribal attorney who owns an oil service company on the reservation, is mentioned in the report for raising the question of ethics with Hall at a council meeting.

Williams said Hall’s regime made people afraid to speak publicly, fearing for their jobs and homes.

Hall has enjoyed a lengthy run as chairman having won the tribal election in 2010, as well as previously from 1998 to 2006. In a statement made to The Dickinson Press, Hall addressed the allegations and the documents.

“Believe me, I understand that these guys want to be chairman so badly, but at some point the people are going to find out just what lengths they are willing to go, including misusing tribal resources and manipulating the people, in order to get what they want,” Hall said.

He said the $220,000 that the Dentons firm has billed the tribe for the investigation is “unauthorized work.”

Hall has not responded to calls or emails from Native Sun News as of press time. In the process of full disclosure Native Sun News Publisher Tim Giago said that Hall had been negotiating with him in an effort to purchase a percentage of the newspaper; however Giago said he withdrew his offer after observing all of the problems arising within the tribe and with Hall because he did not want the newspaper to be dragged into the conflict.

“When my reporters called Hall to try and get some perspective on what was happening within his administration Hall refused to return our phone calls or answer our emails. It was then that my staff and I decided that it was in our best interests not to get involved with Hall or the Tribe,” Giago said.

Due to fears of political retaliation many of the Three Affiliated Tribes membership that did speak with Native Sun News or make public statements on social media sites have chosen to remain anonymous.

One of those members made the written statement that “Our tribal business council does not handle business, it's taken care of out of state by non-enrolled members with economic ties look out for the chairman and other business ventures,” she stated, “What happened to elected tribal members, did they go back to their closet?”

In a written statement released by “This is Mandaree,” which also posted the 66 page factual findings part of the document, the events relating to the Sept. 15 release of the document to the public are as followed:
“The tribal council approved this investigation by the former U.S. Federal Attorney Stephen Hill. They received the complete report last month and the investigator met with them at their August meeting. The TAT tribal council refused to release the investigation report and findings.

A peaceful protest was held on Sept. 15, 2014, asking that the report be released in order to allow tribal voters to make informed decisions before voting for tribal chairman candidates in the September 16 tribal primary election - on the following day.

As a result of this protest, a few copies of this 'Factual Findings' report were handed out by three of the seven TAT Tribal Council members willing to talk with the protesters.

In response to why the report had not been released, Fred Fox said Councilman Randy Phelan didn't want this investigation report released to tribal members or voters until after the election ended.

In response to other questions, Judy Brugh said both her and Fred Fox did have a tribal resolution to suspend Chairman Hall....but Phelan, Ken Hall, and Barry Benson refused to support their resolution.

A separate release of the documentation - cancelled checks, memos, emails, etc - upon which this investigative report was based, was also provided separately to a tribal member and that information is not yet posted anywhere online.

Although the protest was peaceful and orderly - and organized with an advanced notice to tribal council members - the TAT tribal security prevented tribal members from entering the formerly public tribal building during regular business hours, by locking the doors to the peaceful protesters.

Only through TAT tribal councilwoman Judy Brugh's intervention and presence, the tribal doors were re-opened to allow tribal members into the building and peacefully assemble in the tribal chambers.”

With only six weeks to go until the general election, Williams said his time outside of the office will be spent campaigning, including possible debates across the state against opponent Fox.

Both Fox and Williams see the results of the primary election as a sign that voters want things done differently.

“I’m pretty happy with the results,” first-time candidate Williams said Wednesday. “I think there was a clear message sent that the enrolled membership of the Three Affiliated Tribes really wanted a change.”

Both Fox and Williams have agreed to participate in a debate on Wednesday October 8, starting at 6 p.m. in Bismarck. The location has yet to be determined and will be announced here in Native Sun News.

(Contact Karin Eagle at

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