Environment | Law | National | Politics

Blackfeet citizens want to join lawsuit over lease at sacred site






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

Members of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana want to join a lawsuit that will determine whether development can occur in one of the tribe's most sacred areas.

The tribe celebrated when the Interior Department canceled an energy lease in the Badger-Two Medicine Area. But the company that held the lease is still fighting in federal court and Blackfeet citizens want to make sure their interests are protected in the next stage of litigation.

“Those representing traditional Blackfeet culture did not have a seat at the table 30 years ago when the federal government leased our sacred lands for a dollar an acre,” John Murray of the Pikuni Traditionalist Association said in a press release. “This intervention is important to ensure that those representing traditional Blackfeet culture have a seat at the table now as the court considers the validity of the government’s effort to correct that 30-year-old mistake.”

Earthjustice filed the motion to intervene on behalf of Murray's group, which consists of cultural leaders of the tribe. The Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance, another group that includes tribal members, is also seeking to join the case as are environmental groups.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Solonex LLC, is being heard in the federal court in Washington, D.C.

Get the Story:
Blackfeet Tribe asks to join court case on Badger-Two Medicine (The Missoulian 5/12)

An Opinion:
Michael J. Dax: How tribes led the fight over Badger-Two Medicine oil and gas leases (High Country News 5/12)

Related Stories:
Blackfeet Nation wants all energy leases canceled at sacred site (03/18)
DOI cancels lease on sacred Blackfeet Nation lands in Montana (3/17)
Lakota Country Times: Blackfeet Nation wins ruling for sacred site (12/08)
Blackfeet Nation wins ruling against development at sacred site (11/23)
Blackfeet Nation gears up for action on drilling at sacred site (11/03)
Opinion: Sacred site designation in Montana kept from public (10/29)
Blackfeet Nation states opposition to drilling on sacred land (09/03)
Obama promises long-overdue action on drilling on sacred land (08/19)
Judge upset with delay in drilling dispute affecting sacred land (07/29)
Blackfeet Nation reiterates opposition to drilling on sacred land (07/10)
Blackfeet Nation to honor Sen. Tester for sacred site support (06/25)
Judge questions delay in drilling on Blackfeet Nation sacred site (06/17)
Judge to hear arguments in Blackfeet Nation sacred site dispute (6/9)
Blackfeet Nation launches campaign to ban drilling at sacred site (04/23)
Blackfeet Nation opposes energy development on sacred lands (03/30)