Environment | Law | National

Blackfeet Nation wants all energy leases canceled at sacred site






Blackfeet Nation leaders, from left: Historic Preservation Officer John Murray, Chief Earl Old Person and Secretary Tyson Running Wolf. Photo from Blackfeet Nation

The Blackfeet Nation of Montana celebrated on Thursday after the Obama administration canceled an energy lease on sacred land.

The decision was decades in the making. But the battle isn't over -- Chairman Harry Barnes told the Associated Press that the tribe will seek to have the remaining 17 leases in the Badger-Two Medicine Area canceled.

"This fight has been about more that the Blackfeet," Barnes said in a statement posted by ABC FOX Montana. "All of Montana and our country win. This pristine area so special to us and special to all who fight in this fight.”

The 165,000-acre Badger-Two Medicine Area sits adjacent to the reservation. The tribe has been seeking the return of the land but also believes an 1885 treaty and an 1895 agreement protect its rights to use the land for ceremonies, hunting, fishing and other activities.

"There are special places in this world where we just shouldn't drill, and the Badger-Two Medicine is one of them," Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana), the vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said in a press release.

The lease was held by on the Solonex LLC and it was issued during the Reagan administration. It would allow oil and gas drilling on 6,200 acres of the Badger-Two Medicine Area

The company has not said how it will respond to the cancellation.

Get the Story:
US cancels oil and gas lease on Montana land sacred to tribe (AP 3/17)
Oil and gas leases canceled on Badger-Two Medicine (ABC FOX Montana 3/17)
BLM, DOI cancel oil, gas lease just south of Glacier National Park (The Hungry Horse News 3/17)
Government cancels Badger-Two Medicine oil/natural gas lease (The Great Falls Tribune 3/18)

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