Environment | Law | National

Blackfeet Nation launches campaign to ban drilling at sacred site






Badger Creek in the Badger-Two Medicine Area in Montana. Photo from Blackfeet Nation

The Blackfeet Nation launched a public campaign to prevent oil and gas development on the sacred Badger-Two Medicine Area of Montana.

The tribe is calling on Congress and the Obama administration to cancel 18 drilling leases in the 165,000-acre area near the reservation. Development was originally approved in the early 1980s without consultation.

“Drilling in the Badger Two-Medicine will never be an option,” Secretary Tyson Running Wolf said in a press release. “It’s an area that’s central to our culture and spirituality. This site is off the table for any oil and gas drilling.”

The area falls within the Lewis and Clark National Forest and was part of an agreement signed in 1896. Tribal leaders say they only meant to lease the land to the government for 99 years and are seeking the return of the land.

The land plays an important role in tribal history and culture. The area is used for hunting and gathering of traditional food and medicine.


Tribal leaders discuss the importance of the Badger-Two Medicine Area. From left to right: Historic Preservation Officer John Murray, Chief Earl Old Person and Secretary Tyson Running Wolf. Photo from Blackfeet Nation

“For more than 30 years, we’ve fought to protect the Badger-Two Medicine,” said Running Wolf. “And we will not rest until the remaining 18 oil and gas leases are cancelled. For the next phase of our fight, we will be putting the full force of a national campaign and growing alliance behind our efforts.”

The tribe is not entirely opposed to energy development. Running Wolf met with Solenex LLC, the company that holds an exploration lease, today to offer land on the reservation in exchange for dropping its claims in Badger-Two Medicine.

Solonex president Sidney Longwell, however, wouldn't agree to the compromise, The Great Falls Tribune reported. He instead offered to transfer the lease to the tribe in exchange for a portion of the royalties but Running Wolf said no, the paper reported.

The company has a lawsuit pending in federal court that accuses U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management of "unreasonable and indefinite delay" in granting approvals to drill in the area.

Get the Story:
Blackfeet Campaign To Ban Drilling On Badger-Two Medicine (Montana Public Radio 4/23)
Blackfeet launch campaign to protect Badger-Two Medicine (The Kalispell Daily Inter Lake 4/23)
Blackfeet launch campaign against oil and gas development in Badger-Two Medicine (The Helena Independent Record 4/23)
Blackfeet Kick Off Campaign to End Oil Exploration on Badger-Two Medicine (The Flathead Beacon 4/23)
Blackfeet announce legal, social campaign to save Badger-Two Medicine (The Missoulian 4/23)
Indian Congress, Pearl Jam join Blackfeet in fight against leases (The Great Falls Tribune 4/23)
Blackfeet, Solenex still at odds over exploration well (The Great Falls Tribune 4/23)
Badger Two-Medicine Dispute Dates To Regan Era (Montana Public Radio 4/23)
Blackfeet launch campaign to cancel energy leases (AP 4/22)

Related Stories:
Blackfeet Nation opposes energy development on sacred lands (03/30)