Environment | Law | National

DOI cancels lease on sacred Blackfeet Nation lands in Montana






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

The Obama administration on Thursday canceled an energy lease on sacred Blackfeet Nation land in Montana.

The Interior Department took action after a federal judge ordered a decision within 24 hours of a court hearing on Wednesday. Secretary Sally Jewell said the move will protect the Badger-Two Medicine Area from "irreparable" damage.

"This is the right action to take on behalf of current and future generations,” Jewell said in a press release. “Today’s action honors Badger-Two Medicine’s rich cultural and natural resources and recognizes the irreparable impacts that oil and gas development would have on them.”

Blackfeet leaders have been trying to stop development since the 1980s. The Badger-Two Medicine Area lies next to the reservation and the tribe believes an 1885 treaty and an 1895 agreement protect its rights to use the land for ceremonies, hunting, fishing and other activities.

“For over thirty years, tribal members and stakeholders from across the community have lodged concerns about oil and gas development in Badger-Two Medicine,” Deputy Secretary Michael Connor, who signed the documents to cancel the lease, said in the press release. “Congress has acted to close Badger-Two Medicine to leasing, and today we are taking additional steps to provide certainty that this special and sacred place remains so.”

The lease is held by Solonex LLC. It covers 6,200 acres of the 165,000-acre Badger-Two Medicine Area.

Additional leases are held in the area and the tribe is pushing to have all of them canceled.

Get the Story:
US Cancels Oil and Gas Lease on Montana Land Sacred to Tribe (AP 3/17)
Judge says government must act on gas lease on sacred land (AP 3/17)

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