NEW TOWN The Three Affiliated Tribes have retained the services of a helicopter and its pilot for use on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
The bright yellow Bell 206 B-3 utility helicopter is owned by Double M Helicopter, a business owned by pilot Monte Myers of Mandan.
During a ceremony held May 29 at the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Earth Lodge Village, west of New Town, the helicopter was renamed "Whistling Arrow" and an eagle feather was placed inside the body of the helicopter. Tony Mandan, a tribal elder, performed the renaming ceremony.
"You cannot imagine how proud I am to have my helicopter named 'Whistling Arrow,' said Myers at the renaming ceremony. He told Tex Hall, tribal chairman, "I will never bring you an aircraft that is not safe for your people and when the decal is placed on the helicopter wherever I go, your culture will be represented well."
Carson Hood Jr., director of the tribal Energy Department, said the helicopter will continue to be based in Mandan and will be "on call" for events for the tribes.
Myers and his helicopter previously have been called on a number of times by the tribes, including to give dignitaries aerial tours of the oil field.
The tribal ranch in the Mandaree area will use the helicopter for buffalo roundups and counts. Earlier on May 29, it was used to round up buffalo that escaped from their pens at the ranch, said Glenda Baker Embry, tribal public relations officer.
The Elbowoods Memorial Health Center in New Town is in its first phase the clinic and housing phase of construction, said Tex Hall, tribal chairman. He said the second phase in 2014 will include a 24-hour emergency room, ambulance services and the helicopter.
"We will use that to ferry our people to trauma centers and other needed medical services. We can use the helicopter for other aerial services such as firefighting," he said in a news release.
Jason Morsette, commander of American Legion Post 253 in White Shield who works for Tribal Tourism, said that he, Bill Hale Jr., commander of American Legion Post 271, and Mandan decided on the name "Whistling Arrow" for the helicopter based on an arrow going through the air and the whistling sound it makes in flight. "And we thought about that arrow carrying our people through the air to goodness and the sound of the helicopter was the whistle," Morsette said.