Three Affiliated Tribes council chairman candidate Fox delivers signs to a supporter's house on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota
Three Affiliated Tribes council chairman candidate Mark Fox delivers signs to a supporter's house on the Fort Berthold Reservation in N.D. on Nov. 1, 2014.Andrew Cullen—Reuters
Three Affiliated Tribes council chairman candidate Fox delivers signs to a supporter's house on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota
A drill rig abuts farmland on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota
Jesse Bear climbs over a corral fence to train a horse on the ranch owned by his father, a Three Affiliated Tribes member, just off the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota
Flares and lights from oil wells dot the horizon over the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota
A flare and pump jacks are seen at an oil well on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota
Oil field traffic passes a campaign sign for Three Affiliated Tribes council chairman candidate Williams in New Town on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota
A housing development for members of the Three Affiliated Tribes under construction in New Town on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota
A bumper sticker stating "I'm Indian and I vote" adorns a car on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota
Jesse Bear and his father, Sonny James Bear, a Three Affiliated Tribes member, drink coffee over the campfire during a break from training horses on their ranch just off the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota
Supporters serve themselves from a buffet during a campaign dinner for Three Affiliated Tribes council chairman candidate Williams the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota
Three Affiliated Tribes council chairman candidate Williams speaks to supporters during a campaign dinner on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota
Oil field traffic winds through New Town at dawn on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota
Three Affiliated Tribes council chairman candidate Mark Fox delivers signs to a supporter's house on the Fort Berthold R
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Andrew Cullen—Reuters
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This Tiny Election Could Have a Big Impact on the Oil Industry

As millions of voters across the country weigh in on issues like abortion and marijuana legalization, a new report documents how a small group of American Indian voters deep in the plains of North Dakota are determining the future of an entirely different issue—the course of the state's oil industry.

Members of the Three Affiliated Tribes of Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation are electing a new tribal chairman, and both candidates promise new regulations that will make business tougher for the oil industry there. The tribal chairman exercises considerable influence on the state's oil industry, which produces more oil than any state except Texas, according to Reuters. MHA controls a third of that production.

The two most pressing issues for the candidates, attorney Damon Williams and tax director Mark Fox, are protecting the environment and ensuring that oil revenue supports members of the tribes. Despite collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in oil tax revenue, the tribe still lacks some basic services. "The oil money is our buffalo," Williams said. "And one of these days, the buffalo will move on."

Read the full story from Reuters.

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