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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.

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