Later, April 22, 2017: it's nice the state legislature "corrected" this issue, but it seems this should have been settled by the ND Supreme Court a long time ago. Based on what little I know about mineral rights what the legislature did was a no-brainer and the courts should have agreed, and sorted this out years ago.
The North Dakota Legislature has approved a bill clarifying that the state does not own minerals under Lake Sakakawea, setting up a process to return an estimated $187 million in bonus, rent and royalty payments.
Supporters of Senate Bill 2134 say it’s about doing the “right thing” for citizens who retained their minerals when they lost land for the construction of the Garrison Dam, which created Lake Sakakawea.
“We need to make sure that we get the mineral ownership back to the rightful owner,” said Sen. Jessica Unruh, R-Beulah. “We need to clarify what the state owns and provide clarity and certainty for our judicial system.”
I have a lot of problems with that last statement but not worth the effort to discuss it. I have no dog in this fight.But opponents of the bill say the primary beneficiaries are likely the federal government and the oil industry, which was heavily involved with developing the legislation.
There may have been some thought that this had to do with "the high water mark" issue, another "water issue" affecting mineral owners. This was also in the article:
The bill sets up a process to define the ordinary high water mark of the historic Missouri River channel as it existed before the Garrison Dam, starting with the 1950s survey of the river by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.