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Interior Department cancels final leases on sacred Blackfeet Nation land

Filed Under: Environment | Law | National | Politics
More on: blackfeet, doi, donald trump, energy, harry barnes, montana, sacred sites, sally jewell
     
   

Indianz.Com on YouTube: Chief Earl Old Person of the Blackfeet Nation presents the Badger-Two Medicine Song

The Obama administration has canceled the final two energy leases on sacred Blackfeet Nation land in Montana.

The decision means the Badger-Two Medicine Area is completely protected from oil and gas drilling. Besides the two canceled on Tuesday, an energy company voluntarily withdrew 15 leases in November while another was canceled last March after additional review.

“We are proud to have worked alongside the Blackfeet Nation and the U.S. Forest Service throughout this process to roll back decades-old leases and reinforce the importance of developing resources in the right way and the right places.” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a press release. “The cancellation of the final two leases in the rich cultural and natural Badger-Two Medicine Area will ensure it is protected for future generations.”

All of the canceled leases were issued in the early 1980s, during the Reagan administration. The tribe was never consulted and joined forces with hunters, fishermen and other citizens in Montana to build a campaign against development in Badger-Two Medicine.

"I came late to the dance and left with the prettiest girl," Chairman Harry Barnes said last November, referring to the tribe's decades-long fight to cancel the leases.

Despite the victory, the holder of one of the canceled leases continues to assert its right to drill as part of an ongoing lawsuit. The legal group representing Solonex LLC believes Republican president-elect Donald Trump can reverse the decision.

Badger Two-Medicine lies within the Lewis and Clark National Forest and sits adjacent to the reservation. The tribe says an 1885 treaty and an 1895 agreement protect its rights to use the area for ceremonies, hunting, fishing and other activities.

Related Stories:
Michael Dax: Blackfeet Nation scores victory in sacred land fight (12/12)
Editorial: Keep oil and gas drillers away from sacred Blackfeet Nation lands (11/22)
Sacred land protection efforts face questions with Donald Trump (11/18)
Blackfeet Nation scores victories on sacred sites and water rights (11/17)
Blackfeet Nation water deal on agenda as Congress returns to DC (11/15)
Energy firm still seeking to drill on sacred Blackfeet Nation land (10/05)
Oklahoma lawmakers push for approval of tribal water rights deal (09/29)
Senate passes water bill but fails to include #NoDAPL amendment (09/15)
Blackfeet Nation swears in leaders and looks to a new future (07/22)
Blackfeet citizens want to join lawsuit over lease at sacred site (05/12)
Blackfeet Nation wants all energy leases canceled at sacred site (03/18)
DOI cancels lease on sacred Blackfeet Nation lands in Montana (3/17)
Blackfeet Nation welcomes movement on water rights settlement (02/05)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes two water bills at meeting (02/03)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee reschedules business meeting (01/25)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules business meeting for two water rights bills (01/22)
Lakota Country Times: Blackfeet Nation wins ruling for sacred site (12/08)
Senate committee delays action on Blackfeet Nation water rights (12/02)
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)

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