Environment | Law | National

North Dakota tribe sees big problems as energy industry grows

BOOM: Traffic jams are common on the reservation due to an explosion of energy development. Photo from This Is Mandaree / Facebook

Energy development has brought jobs and revenue to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in North Dakota but it's also led to some big-time problems.

The tribe has just 20 officers to patrol the 1 million-acre reservation. Sometimes there are only two on the job at the same time.

“We are dealing with stuff we’ve never seen before,” Sgt. Dawn White, a tribal member, told The Washington Post. “No one was prepared for this.”

Diane Johnson, the chief judge of the tribe's court system, said crime has tripled in the past two years. Most of it is drug related.

“The drug problem that the oil boom has brought is destroying our reservation," Johnson told the paper.

As part of Operation Winter's End, the U.S. Attorney's Office has indicted more than 44 people who have been involved in the drug trade on and near the reservation. Methamphetamine and heroin seem to be the drugs of choice.

“More money and more people equals more crime. And whether the outsiders came here to work on a rig and decided it would be easier to sell drugs or they came here to sell drugs, it doesn’t make any difference," U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon told the paper. "They’re selling drugs. An unprecedented amount.”

Get the Story:
Dark side of the boom (The Washington Post 9/29)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories:
Native Sun News: Tex Hall ousted in North Dakota tribal primary (9/26)
DOJ awards grants to address violence in Bakken energy region (08/27)
Another pipeline spills saltwater on reservation in North Dakota (08/27)
North Dakota tribe accused of concealing data on pipeline spill (08/21)
Editorial: Work with North Dakota tribe to address flaring of gas (08/18)
Opinion: North Dakota takes wrong approach to flaring issues (08/11)
North Dakota tribe seeks to curb losses of natural gas to 'flaring' (08/07)