Alaina Buffalo Spirit: Oppose coal for Northern Cheyenne Tribe


The flag of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. Photo from Facebook

With the Senate Indian Affairs Committee headed to Montana for a field hearing on energy development, Alaina Buffalo Spirit calls on the Northern Cheyenne Tribe to look to renewable energy instead of exploiting coal resources on the reservation:
Coal is a dying fuel. The companies that mine in Montana and Wyoming lost billions of dollars in 2014, and some will go bankrupt in 2015. The market for coal is shrinking because coal can’t compete with other energy sources. Would Jason Small also have us stake our economy on typewriters? The world is changing away from coal.

Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs used to invest in coal projects; now, these major banks have removed their money from coal and have advised others to do so, too. Coal companies can’t even bring prosperity to their own shareholders. No one should think they can bring prosperity to the Northern Cheyenne.

The coal industry pretends that its only hope is to build export terminals to sell their product to Asia. But coal exports face strong opposition from other tribes. The 57 Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians unanimously oppose Northwest coal exports. Building the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point in Washington would violate the treaty rights of our brothers and sisters in the Lummi Nation. The Lummi wouldn’t expect our people to sacrifice treaty rights for a coal company; the Northern Cheyenne shouldn’t ask the same of them.

I agree that our people need to work to build our economy. But we won’t prosper from an industry that will destroy our land, water and plants with strip mining that will not be able to make a profit, that relies on violating other tribes’ treaty rights, and that is full of almost-bankrupt companies.

Get the Story:
Alaina Buffalo Spirit: Northern Cheyenne future is in sun, wind (The Billings Gazette 4/4)

Another Opinion:
Vanessa Braided Hair: Coal mining fails to bring prosperity to reservations (The Billings Gazette 4/4)

Committee Notice:
Oversight Field Hearing on "Empowering Indian Country: Coal, Jobs, and Self-Determination" (April 8, 2015)

Related Stories
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets field hearing in Montana (4/2)
Bill seeks to make Indian Coal Production Tax Credit permanent (03/13)
Jason Small: Northern Cheyenne Tribe must develop resources (3/10)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe hails land measure (12/31)
Controversial defense bill includes Northern Cheyenne Tribe deal (12/09)

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