New Town mobile home park residents protest eviction for oil workers

Children prepare to protest with their families against forced evictions out of the Prairie Winds Mobile Homes to make room for oil workers in New Town, ND

NEW TOWN, N.D. – About 50 people paraded through this northwestern city of 2,000 people Saturday chanting “People over profits” and carrying signs such as “Relocation ended in the ’70s” to protest the eviction of mobile home court residents.

Residents of 45 trailers – many of them the poorest members of the Three Affiliated Tribes – have until Aug. 31 to move after the mobile home park was sold with plans to develop it to house oil workers.

Future Housing LLC bought the property and plans to construct housing for employees of United Prairie Cooperative, formerly Cenex of New Town.

Protestors marched and participated in a vehicle procession through the trailer court, past the offices of United Prairie Cooperative and to the two Cenex stations in New Town.

“We just want to be heard,” said resident Becky Deschamp.

Valerian Three Irons of New Town, who protested in support of the mobile home park residents, said the business should work to find an alternative solution.

Residents worry they’ll be homeless due to a severe housing shortage in the area. Many of the trailers are in such poor condition they can’t be moved.

“These are real people, real families with children,” Three Irons said. “Where are they going to go?”

Many of the protestors called for a boycott of Cenex.

“There has to be a conscience and responsibility to the community by business,” Three Irons said.

Mark Skibsrud, one of the few residents of the mobile home park who is not an enrolled member of the tribe, carried a sign that read “I’m white. I’m not used to getting displaced.”

“Big money should not just be able to buy out the little people and tell us we have to move,” Skibsrud said. “I’m not against progress, but this is more exploitation than anything else.”

John Reese, the CEO and general manager of United Prairie Cooperative and agent for Future Housing LLC, has said the company is trying to work with the residents. Initially, the eviction deadline was set for May 1, but it’s been postponed until Aug. 31.

Reese said in an interview last month the housing shortage in the area makes it difficult for him to find employees. Available land to develop housing is also difficult to find, he said.

“Right now, anything that’s available that has water and sewer on it is very attractive to anybody that’s trying to continue to grow their business,” Reese said.

On Saturday, Reese said he was aware of the protest but he was out of town planting potatoes.

Many of the signs and chants targeted Reese directly.

“I’m just fine with taking the rock beating,” Reese said. “When the housing complex is done, all races will live there.”

Several signs referenced the tribal members who were displaced in the 1950s by the construction of Garrison Dam and the creation of Lake Sakakawea, which put hundreds of homes under water. New Town was founded for the displaced residents and is the largest city on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

Theodora Bird Bear of Mandaree participated in the protest in support of the residents. Bird Bear said while United Prairie Cooperative is playing a role in this situation, the tribe and federal officials also need to protect tribal members from effects of oil development.

“There needs to be planning done,” Bird Bear said.

Wayne Stubstad, who owned the park for 31 years before deciding to retire, has said he first offered to sell it to the tribe but got no response.

Judy Brugh, a tribal councilwoman who helped organize the protest, said Stubstad talked about it with individual members but did not formally bring it to the council.

“It was never brought to the table,” Brugh said.

Tribal leaders have identified land east of New Town for possible development of a new mobile home park, Dennis Fox, CEO for the tribe, has said.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple has said he plans to send a letter to President Obama asking that FEMA trailers now being used by flooded Minot residents be made available to address housing needs on North Dakota reservations. Some of those trailers could be used to help the displaced New Town residents.

Dalrymple is a Forum Communications Co. reporter stationed in the Oil Patch. She can be reached at or (701) 580-6890.

4 Responses to “New Town mobile home park residents protest eviction for oil workers”

  1. 1 kandimossettien Apr 15th, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Residents living in Prairie Winds Mobile Home in New Town, ND are being forcefully evicted from their homes with no assistance from the Tribe or the City to pay for relocation expenses. They have until August 31st to be out of their homes whether they can afford to move them or not. Many of the homes are not even able to be moved due to their age, as many residents have lived there for 20 years or more. Furthermore, there is currently no place to move the homes to within the Fort Berthold reservation because of the oil boom. John Reese, the non-native owner of the mobile home lot, has told residents they can apply for a job within his company and thereby apply to be placed back in their OWN HOMES!!!!! This is not the first time John Reese has forced people to relocate. He moved people out of a nearby mobile home park on the west end of New Town as well as out of the old movie theater apartments on main street. This matter is complicated due to the checkerboard nature of the reservation as a result of allotment, but so far neither the Tribal Business Council nor the City of New Town are willing to help the people who are being forcefully evicted and because most cannot possibly afford the costs associated with relocating they are facing homelessness. Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara children are going to literally be put out of their homes in order to make way for oil workers to have a place to live. Please help spread the word about this madness in North Dakota and share this story far and wide.

  2. 2 Juanita Renee Apr 15th, 2012 at 1:05 pm


  3. 3 Video Innovations Apr 16th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    The same thing is happening in Pennsylvania. The industry that our leaders are saying will free us from foriegn oil is rotting us from the inside out.

  4. 4 Jbug Apr 18th, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    The people should be upset with the owners that sold it to the oil compnay not the oil company .

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About Kandi

Kandi is a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation in North Dakota and is the Tribal Climate Challenge Organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network

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