indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne coal slated for development

Filed Under: Business | Environment | National
More on: clara caufield, employment, energy, montana, native sun news, northern cheyenne
     

The following story was written and reported by Clara Caufield. All content © Native Sun News.


Former Governor Brian Schweitzer

Otter Creek Coal Tracts near Northern Cheyenne slated for development
By Clara Caufield
A Cheyenne Voice

LAME DEER, Mont. — The Northern Cheyenne Reservation is surrounded on three sides by area coal development, including the Decker Mines (east) , Crow mines (south) and the Rosebud Mine in Colstrip (west). Proposed mining in the Ashland area (north) – Otter Creek – slated to be one of the largest surface coal mines in North America, would complete the circle.

Small business owners in Ashland (population of approximately 800), a small border town just across the Tongue River from the Northern Cheyenne Reservation struggle; a slow economy challenges those operating in the “nip and tuck” mode. The proposed Otter Creek Mine to be developed near Ashland could be a shot-in-the-arm for this small rural community. But at least one small business owner said “I don’t think that’s really going to happen. At least not in time to save me.” (She was right, having since closed the doors of her small café and bar, the Justus Inn.)

Many state and tribal leaders do however believe it will happen, saying that that the potential development of the Otter Creek Coal Reserves could be one of the most significant natural resource developments to hit southeastern Montana. The potential mine would employ several hundred workers, services will be required and the spin-off effect of the investment could be a sorely needed stimulus.

Many local people wonder about the status of Otter Creek coal development asking: When are they going to start hiring people and mining coal at Otter Creek? What’s the Tribe getting out of the deal? How did the Tribe get involved? Folks in Ashland, like the Tongue River Community Development Council ask how they can prepare for ask for the impacts of housing, health and emergency services, law and order etc. And some, Cheyenne and non-Indian alike in the area continue to steadfastly oppose any development including the proposed Tongue River Railway, necessary to transport the coal to markets, yet to be finalized.

“Otter Creek Coal Development is the biggest, fastest horse in the State and I’m riding it,” said former Governor Brian Schweitzer who spearheaded the effort to gain State approval of coal leases for Arch Coal several years ago. “We want to dispel any notions that Otter Creek will not happen,” he continued. “The State of Montana already has eighty-five million from Otter Creek investors in the Bank. People don’t put this kind of money on a horse unless they know it’s going to be a winner.”

The Governor chairs the State Land Board consisting of the five top State officials who decide on use of Montana Public Lands, including Otter Creek. Other officials are the Attorney General, Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Auditor; and Secretary of State. In 2010, The Land Board voted to approve the leasing of Otter Creek Coal Reserves to Arch Coal. But, before they did that, they required an Otter Creek Settlement Agreement between the State of Montana, Great Northern Properties (owner of half of the Otter Creek Coal Resources) and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe paving the way for Otter Creek Development according to Schweitzer. The Otter Creek Agreement with Northern Cheyenne is similar to previous agreements between the Tribe and developers of Colstrip coal.

“I knew the Cheyenne were wary of Otter Creek development for many years,” he said, “But, when the Cheyenne position changed under the leadership of President Spang and the Tribal Council, I became a strong advocate for Otter Creek doing what’s best based on the opinion of the leadership at Cheyenne.”

Schweitzer and current MT Governor, Steve Bullock are enthused about the employment opportunities that will be created at the Otter Creek Mine.

“Arch Coal would not have invested without a potential great work force at Northern Cheyenne.” Schweitzer stressed. “It’s getting harder and harder to find a source of young people for a work force, but at Northern Cheyenne there are a lot of people aged 8-22 who want to stay at home, raise a family and stay together. This was a great selling point for Arch Coal. I call it The Cheyenne Bonus.”

According to Schweitzer, the reserves at Otter Creek will last for decades. “All during that time, it will provide a continuing supply of high-paying jobs,” he stressed. ‘Sit at the Tribal Office for about three hours and watch people come and go,” he reflected. “You see young mothers with kids. These kids will get those jobs and raise their family. Cheyenne culture is so valuable, but it costs money. I can see all these generations living well and in the Cheyenne tradition on the Reservation through the opportunities at Otter Creek.”

Still, there are a lot of questions. Those involved in the long process leading to the development of Otter Creek have a pretty good handle on what happened. Arch Coal, the mine developer keeps the Council and State officials updated about current developments and what to expect next. Even with approved State leases, there is a lot of work to be done, permits and planning to complete, administrative and historic preservation hurdles to jump, etc. before Arch can actually start developing the mine, a process which takes years.

Former Tribal President Leroy Spang, who prioritized the Otter Creek deal during his Administration (2009-2012), said “I’m really happy the Governor spearheaded the whole works. We all supported him, so it all turned out good. The Northern Cheyenne need to understand this is good for the workers and all other surrounding communities.”

Representative Duane Ankney, local State Representative who served as Chair of the State Appropriations Committee during the last Legislative session noted, “Like I always say, resource development in southeastern Montana buys shoes for the baby. Otter Creek will provide some good paying jobs for young people on and off the Reservation so they can stay here where they were born, raise families and be self-sufficient. Otter Creek will also generate revenue for impacts, roads, water projects...the list goes on. It is a great opportunity.”

Jim Atchison, Director of the Southeastern Montana Development Corporation explained: “The Otter Creek Coal project is, in my opinion, the single largest development opportunity for Montana that we will see in our lifetime, slated to be one of the largest surface mines in North America. To be continued…

(Clara Caufield can be reached at acheyennevoice@gmail.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne student receives top honor (5/22)
Lakota Country Times: Newspaper takes home a slew of awards (5/22)
James Davies: The new tactic is to pretend racism doesn't exist (5/22)
Thomas O'Rourke: Yurok Tribe is a leader in forest restoration (5/22)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Message to all young Native Americans (5/22)
Matt Remle: Tribal nations take a stand to protect Turtle Island (5/22)
DOJ proposes bill to improve access to voting in Indian Country (5/22)
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate ready to exercise VAWA jurisdiction (5/22)
Grande Ronde Tribes await decision on flying flag at high school (5/22)
Cherokee Nation sues pharmaceutical firms over drug products (5/22)
Snoqualmie Tribe reports result of election for five council seats (5/22)
Law Article: Navajo Nation wages battle over 'Navajo' products (5/22)
Review: A son leads his father into the wild with 'Medicine Walk' (5/22)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe to distribute $2.7M in gaming revenues (5/22)
Prairie Island Indian Community eyes $19M expansion at casino (5/22)
Creek Nation seeks Native workers for $329M casino expansion (5/22)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe to debut rodeo event at reopened casino (5/22)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks need state to protect gaming enterprise (5/22)
Native Sun News: North Dakota tribe hit with another brine spill (5/21)
Lakota Country Times: NAIHC presents honor for lifetime service (5/21)
Ivan Star: I'm finding it hard to stand for 'Star Spangled Banner' (5/21)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds field hearing in Oklahoma (5/21)
Haskell University announces cuts to troubled athletics program (5/21)
Crystal Echo Hawk: Indian Country still invisible to philanthropy (5/21)
Judge won't require school to allow eagle feather at graduation (5/21)
School apologizes for teaching song about brutal Indian mission (5/21)
Coquille Tribe hosts National Indian Timber Symposium in June (5/21)
Pokagon Band to file land-into-trust application at housing site (5/21)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe to hold election for chief and sub-chief (5/21)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to honor Civil War veterans (5/21)
Yakama Nation woman sentenced to 10 years for child abuse (5/21)
Heroin blamed for crash near Saginaw Chippewa Tribe school (5/21)
Navajo Nation business opens tech data center in New Mexico (5/21)
Opinion: Indian Country left out of nation's economic recovery (5/21)
Review: 'Hoop Jumper' offers look at allotment era in Oklahoma (5/21)
Opinion: Putting a woman on $20 bill might not be an easy task (5/21)
Opinion: Today's Indian wars are being fought over new casinos (5/21)
Oneida Nation close to opening of new gaming facility on June 2 (5/21)
Tribes hail movement on bill for one more casino in Connecticut (5/21)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe hoping for casino decision this year (5/21)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe buys properties next to casino (5/21)
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River elder cast in forthcoming film (5/20)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux fighter set for new matches (5/20)
Audio from Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on water (5/20)
NCAIED set to return to DC with Reservation Economic Summit (5/20)
Mary Pember: New allies in battle against Indian youth suicide (5/20)
Harlan McKosato: It's time to change school policy on feathers (5/20)
Bryan Newland: Important context on land-into-trust process (5/20)
Jay Daniels: Indian Country forced to choose among two evils (5/20)
Anthony Trujillo: A cultural ambassador with the Peace Corps (5/20)
Mark Rogers: Some truths of the ethnic experience in America (5/20)
Indian schools go without fixes while military schools see $5B (5/20)
Indian student in federal court over right to wear eagle feather (5/20)
Pascua Yaqui Tribe hosts Violence Against Women Act training (5/20)
Tribal traditions put to use for battle against substance abuse (5/20)
Apology sought for treatment of tribes at grizzly bear meeting (5/20)
SCOTUSBlog: DOJ urges denial of petition in tribal court dispute (5/20)
County board calls on NFL team to eliminate its racist mascot (5/20)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe names casino hire (5/20)
Judge again refuses to stop Jamul Band from building casino (5/20)
Connecticut lawmakers weigh bill for one more tribal casino (5/20)
Judge dismisses gaming case filed by Cayuga Nation faction (5/20)
Native casino in Saskatchewan on track with expansion plan (5/20)
Native Sun News: Program helps offenders rebuild their lives (5/19)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe seeks water funding (5/19)
Native Sun News: Comments sought on North Dakota pipeline (5/19)
Mark Trahant: Indian Country finds success in diabetes battle (5/19)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.