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On reservation near saltwater spill, Native Americans wrestle with impact of oil development

In this July 10, 2014, photo, pelicans pass a containment boom on the edge of Bear Den Bay, close to the location of a saltwater pipeline spill near Mandaree, N.D. (AP Photo/Tyler Bell)

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In this July 10, 2014, photo, pelicans pass a containment boom on the edge of Bear Den Bay, close to the location of a saltwater pipeline spill near Mandaree, N.D. (AP Photo/Tyler Bell)

MANDAREE, N.D. - Many Native Americans on Fort Berthold Indian Reservation are trying to manage the balance between the potential prosperity oil and gas development can bring and preserving a land their cultural and religious beliefs say is sacred.

That dilemma has been highlighted since a pipeline spewed 1 million gallons of saltwater — byproducts of oil and gas production — into the badlands this month near the reservation town of Mandaree.

Ruth Anna Buffalo compares the impact of oil and gas to the building of a dam that flooded her relatives' homes in the 1950s.

Leaders of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nation say oil development has rescued the reservation from poverty. But prosperity is difficult to see in Mandaree, and resident Katherine Young Bear says there's still "huge, horrible" poverty.

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