Mark Fox, center, serves as the chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. He is joining the Environmental Protection Agency's Local Government Advisory Committee along with Shawn Yanity, chairman of the Tribe, and Mervin Wright, a council member from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. Photo: North Dakota Department of Transportation
Environment | National | Politics

Native Sun News Today: Tribal leaders named to national environmental panel

EPA taps Fort Berthold Chair for national post

By Talli Nauman
Health & Environment Editor
Native Sun News Today

DENVER -- The U.S. EPA’s May 11 announcement of appointments to its Local Government Advisory Committee thrusts Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation Tribal Business Council Chair Mark Fox of Parshall, North Dakota into the national, regional and local spotlights.

“Chairman Fox has valuable knowledge and experience working on issues facing tribal nations,” EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento said in a written announcement. “His familiarity with these issues, along with his work developing small businesses, will provide essential representation to the committee.”

Now in the last year of his term in the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation’s highest elected office, Fox has faced the challenges of greed, corruption, social inequality, environmental degradation and health issues attendant to the precarious boom-and-bust cycle of fracking in the heart of North Dakota’s Bakken oil formation.

Tribal membership is watching to see how he will perform in the new EPA role.

“He ran a platform on protecting tribal lands and transparency. It's been four years and we have not seen much change from the last administration,” said Lisa DeVille, president of the grassroots Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights, or POWER.

The last administration was that of three-term Chair Tex “Red-Tipped Arrow” Hall, who went down in the 2014 primaries with failing marks for accountability in dealings with criminal business partners in his own private oil enterprise while in office.

Since then, said DeVille, “We have seen a lot more money funneled through our Tribal Business Council that has been squandered on leisure rather than developing a sound economy for our people or protecting our natural resources. Like past chairmen, it seems that our leaders would prefer to listen to millionaires and outside consultants over our own people,” she said.

The 34 members of the national advisory panel were selected for their “demonstrated leadership experience, proven record of service to their communities, and involvement in effective environmental protection services and programs,” EPA said.

Fox joins two other tribal officials on the newly reconstituted panel: Stillaguamish Tribal Chair Shawn Yanity of Arlington, Washington, and Mervin Wright, environmental manager for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nixon, Nevada.


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