San Juan College seminar brings Native energy professionals, students together to combine knowledge

Tribal Energy Management program will host four more seminars this year

Megan Petersen
Farmington Daily Times
Roger Fragua, president of Cota Holdings, LLC, holds a seminar Monday at San Juan College School of Energy's Tribal Energy Management Seminar Series in Farmington.
  • The Tribal Energy Management program is in its first year.
  • Industry professionals from as far as North Dakota came to attend the seminar.
  • Students and industry professionals, as well as any one curious, can enroll in seminar series.

FARMINGTON — San Juan College is hosting the first of five Tribal Energy Management Seminars this week. 

The week-long seminar is an introduction to federal Indian policy that studies the evolving relationship between tribes and state and federal governments, according to information from Barbara Wickman, dean of the San Juan College School of Energy. 

The seminar series is part of the School of Energy’s Tribal Energy Management program, which focuses on resource management, business and government relations in tribal communities involved in the energy industry. 

“What we’re hoping is that all the tribes that have energy resources, it could help them develop resources in a faster and more comfortable way,” Wickman said. “Hopefully by bringing together tribal leaders and tribal citizens, as students or as professionals, and then people from industry and regulation, we could have some dialog and figure out some ways to smooth over what have been some of the hurdles for development.”

Dave Williams, President and CEO of Missouri River Resources, talks during an inteview, Monday at San Juan College's School of Energy in Farmington.

The program is in its first year. Eleven students are currently enrolled in the program to earn a TEMS certificate or associate degree of applied sciences, according to San Juan College Director of Public Relations Rhonda Schaefer.  

More than 30 people are participating in this week’s seminars, including 20 people not enrolled in the TEMS program. 

Dave Williams — the president of Missouri River Resources, the oil and gas company privately owned by the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation — said collaboration between tribes is “paramount” to their success in the oil and gas industry. 

Williams said he looked to the Southern Ute Tribe — which he called “the shining star of energy tribes” because of its success in managing its natural resources — for guidance in business planning when his tribe began Missouri River Resources. 

San Juan College student Jill Hicks participates in a seminar Monday at San Juan College's School of Energy in Farmington.

Williams said the value of the knowledge that can be shared between Native industry professionals about how to navigate the intricacies of government regulations can be in the scale of billions.
“From 2007 to 2017, 10 years (of horizontal oil drilling on MHA land), our tribe has given — I say given — the state of North Dakota over a billion dollars in taxes. If this type of class was taught in the 60s or the 70s, that billion dollars goes back to our tribe,” Williams said. 

Jill Hicks, a San Juan College student enrolled in the TEMS program, said the networking opportunities presented by the seminar series is one of the most important things to be gained from the program. 

“The value, I think, is us coming together and meeting one another and combining knowledge and experience,” Hicks said. 

Barbara Wickman, dean of San Juan College School of Energy and Dave Williams, President and CEO of Missouri River Resources talk during an interview, Monday at San Juan College's School of Energy in Farmington.

The series is open to students and industry professionals alike. Students earn credits toward their TEMS degree through the seminar, which costs $600 for professionals for each week-long seminar. 

The School of Energy has more seminars planned throughout the academic year. Future seminar themes include water, land and mineral resources; tribal governance, sovereignty and regulations; tribal business, finance and human resources; and practical approaches to doing business on tribal lands.
Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621.