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Fort Berthold Reservation companies questioned

NEW TOWN, N.D. (AP) -- The oil business is booming on the Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota, but some American Indian business owners say they're on the verge of going under and laying off employees.

They say they can't compete with other Native American businesses that essentially are fronts for non-Indian companies that want to operate on the reservation.

Under federal rules, tribal companies and members have preference for work on tribal lands. American Indian businessman Steve Kelly says he thinks about 20 Native-owned companies are unfairly operating as fronts on the reservation.

Tribal Employment Rights Office Deputy Director Dewey Hosie says the office listens to all complaints. He also says compliance officers make random checks of who's working on the reservation, and whether they're properly licensed.

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