Las Vegas Massacre Site Sale Questioned by North Dakota Tribal Members

Posted on: January 25, 2023, 01:47h. 

Last updated on: January 26, 2023, 01:53h.

Some members of North Dakota’s Three Affiliated Tribes – which, late last year, purchased most of the Las Vegas Village festival grounds, the site of the Las Vegas massacre – are questioning the legitimacy of the $90M purchase. The members say it should have been put to a tribal vote before being finalized but wasn’t.

Las Vegas massacre
This photo, released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in October 2017, shows the view Stephen Paddock had of Las Vegas Village when he killed 60 people during the Route 91 Harvest music festival. (Image: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

”They’re acting like they have all the supreme authority and they can do what they want,” Tex Hall, leader of the splinter group, which calls itself the General Council, told North Dakota’s KMOT-TV. “No, you can’t, you have to be accountable with the people’s money.”

Hall served as chair of the Three Affiliated Tribes – also known as the MHA Nation – from 1998 to 2010. He lost a bid to reclaim the position in November to incumbent Mark Fox.

Hall continued, “The tribal council is not the tribe … The people are the tribe. The people make up the tribe.”

MGM Required Secrecy

Fox defended the tribal council’s decision, explaining that the purchase couldn’t be discussed before it was finalized due to a non-disclosure agreement the tribal council was asked to sign by MGM Resorts, the property’s previous owner.

The concept of acquiring land in Las Vegas has always been done, and always put out to the public,” Fox told KMOT. “There’s no hiding of it, there’s no discovering of it.”

According to Fox, the group led by Hall doesn’t represent the nation. The elected members of the tribal council do.

”It is not what our people chose nearly 85 years ago, and there’s no legitimate basis or legal basis for it,” Fox said of Hall’s group. “It’s self-imposed, self-appointed.”

The nation plans to meet Wednesday, January 25 to discuss possible next steps.

Memorial Space to be Respected

Two acres of the Las Vegas Village site were not sold to the Three Affiliated Tribes. They were retained by MGM Resorts, which plans a permanent memorial for the Oct. 1, 2017 tragedy. Called “Memorial to Remember,” that project is slated to be built next to the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer, a Roman Catholic church that became a refuge for massacre victims.

The Three Affiliated Tribes said in a news release earlier this month that whatever is done with the site will honor the adjacent memorial.

“Given our culture and who we are as a people, we understand and are sympathetic to the suffering that occurred five years ago, and it is our hope that whatever is determined to be developed on the site will be positive for the Las Vegas community and the millions of visitors who go to the area annually,” Fox said in a press release.

Who are the Three Affiliated Tribes?

The Three Affiliated Tribes are a sovereign nation comprised of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nation tribes. They are based in the Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota, the second-most productive geographic area for shale oil production in the US. The group has collected nearly $1.7 billion in tax revenues from drilling on nearly 1 million acres of its own land over the past 15 years.

The purchase of the Las Vegas Village site was the Three Affiliated Tribes’ second major purchase of land near Allegiant Stadium in two years. During a July 2020 bankruptcy auction, they purchased a vacant 8.7 acres just south of Las Vegas Village for $12 million.

The nation has yet to announce plans for either property.