Too Sacred to Develop

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The Blackfeet Nation is grateful to President Obama, Secretary Jewell, and Secretary Vilsack for joining us in seeking permanent protection of the Badger-Two Medicine and respecting the sacred lands and culture of the Blackfeet. Together we can finally protect the Badger-Two Medicine.



 

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"For thousands of years Badger-Two Medicine has shaped the identity of our people. I have always been told by our elders that our responsibility was to save those lands for our children and all future generations of Pikuni People."

- Chief Earl Old Person

 

Justice for the Blackfeet People

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Blackfeet Nation and U.S. Dept. of the Interior announce retirement of all illegal oil/gas leases in sacred Badger-Two Medicine region. Justice prevails for Blackfeet Nation after 30 years of fighting to protect cultural homeland.

Today, the Blackfeet People have reason to rejoice. In January 2017, the final leases in the Badger-Two Medicine were cancelled. We thank Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, Deputy Secretary of Interior Mike Connor, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and former Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Butch Blazer, for helping bring justice to the Blackfeet people by cancelling the controversial drilling lease in our sacred Badger-Two Medicine area.

“The Badger-Two Medicine is a powerful cultural region. We’ve lived for 30 years under the threat that it might be industrialized, and we’re extremely grateful that this cloud is finally lifted. This area is like a church to our people, and retiring the last of the leases is a tremendous step toward permanent protection of the Badger-Two Medicine.” - Harry Barnes, chairman of the Blackfeet Nation Tribal Business Council

“Our intention has always been to make people whole. We have always ensured that companies were compensated.” - Tyson Running Wolf, Secretary of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council

“It has been a long struggle. These leases never should have been issued to begin with, and the decision to finally retire them rights a wrong that was done to our people long ago.” — John Murray, Blackfeet Tribal Historic Preservation Officer

“We’re pleased and proud to celebrate the collaboration that has brought us to this agreement. We know how important this is to the Blackfeet people, and we appreciate the work the Interior Department has done to make it possible. For Devon, cancellation of these leases at this time is simply the right thing to do.” - Dave Hager, CEO of Devon Energy, at a ceremony in Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell’s office.

Still, the fight to permanently protect Blackfeet sacred sites continues. One leaseholder, Solenex LLC., has filed a lawsuit, asking the court to reinstate its lease so the company can begin drilling. The court has yet to rule.

Read More - Billings Gazette

History of Lease Retirement 2016-2017

 

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Blackfeet Tribal Business Council Chairman, Harry Barnes, shakes hands with Deputy Secretary of Interior, Mike Connor, in the wake of a decision to cancel a controversial oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine.





 

Badger-Two Medicine

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The Badger-Two Medicine region is an almost entirely unroaded expanse of mountains, ridges, river valleys and wetlands along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front that is sacred to our people. Over thirty years ago, this area was leased illegally without tribal consultation and approval.

In 2015, the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack lent their support for cancellation of the illegal leases stating impacts to the Blackfeet tribe’s cultural and religious practices that would result from development. Most recently, the Department of Interior has vowed to pursue lease cancelation.

The government has now formally acknowledged that drilling in the Badger-Two Medicine would cause devastation beyond repair and is taking steps to right a wrong done to our people decades ago. But we know corporate interests are unlikely to back down from the fight and neither are we. We won’t end our battle until Badger-Two Medicine is permanently protected from oil and gas development.




We oppose drilling on our sacred lands for the following reasons:

  1. 1) The leases were granted illegally in 1982 without tribal consultation.
  2. 2) Energy development would negatively impact and interfere with the Blackfeet people's lands, and the use of it for cultural, historical and religious purposes.
  3. 3) Drilling would compromise the water quality and disrupt extraordinary habitat for rare and sensitive wildlife species.
  4. 4) Reserved hunting, fishing and timbering rights would be compromised.
  5. 5) Fracking the “Backbone of the World” would desecrate both the landscape and the cultural identity of present and future generations of Blackfeet people.
  6. 6) Roads, trucking bridges and well pads would disturb sacred lands in the heart of the Badger-Two Medicine.

Read more about the history of oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine

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Protect this Sacred Place

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The Blackfeet people have utilized the Badger-Two Medicine region for more than 10,000 years. This sacred area provides strength, subsistence, and cultural identity to more than 17,000 tribal members. Now, the region has been compromised due to illegally granted oil and gas leases that threaten the Blackfeet peoples’ history and their sacred and cultural values. The cancellation of these leases is essential to conserve the resources of the Badger-Two Medicine.

Tribal Leaders SPEAK OUT

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KEITH TATSEY
Badger-Two Medicine Committee, Chair

“The Badger-Two Medicine area of the Front is a vital part of our Blackfeet history and culture. By retiring these leases, we will continue to have the opportunity to experience the life that our ancestors understood would provide strength, subsistence, cultural identity and to connect us with our creator.”

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JOHN MURRAY
Tribal Historic Preservation Officer

“The short-term gain in oil and gas production would not be worth the destruction of [Blackfeet] people’s spirituality.”

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CHIEF EARL OLD PERSON
Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, former Chairman

“We must act to preserve ourselves by conserving our culture and our lands for future generations. As long as we have our reservation it is up to us to be wise stewards of these sacred lands. We need to care for them in such a way that the next generation has a land resource that can be used and enjoyed.”

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KENDALL EDMO
Blackfeet Nation Tribal Member

“Coming from a younger generation doesn’t change the fact that my culture, identity and spirituality is interconnected with our lands. Same goes for my children. The Badger-Two Medicine reminds us of who we are and who we were. That’s what makes It crucial that the ecological integrity remain intact.”

iniiyi'taki is the Blackfeet word for feeling grateful or appreciative

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Help us thank the following officials for taking an important step toward permanent protection of this site that is like a church to our people. Tell them, by working together we can finally protect these sacred lands. 

SENATOR JON TESTER
Phone: (406) 257-3360 (Kalispell office)
Online email form at: www.tester.senate.gov

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SENATOR STEVE DAINES 
Phone: (406) 257-3765 (Kalispell Office)
Online email form at: www.daines.senate.govo

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CONGRESSMAN RYAN ZINKE
Phone: 406-952-1210 (Great Falls Office)
Online email form at: zinke.house.gov

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have asked the government to cancel leases in the Badger-Two Medicine

  1. 1) Chief Earl Old Person letter to President Obama - Download
  2. 2) Blackfeet Nation Letter to Secretary Jewel - Download
  3. 3) National Congress of American Indian support letter - Download
  4. 4) Proclamation of the Blackfoot Confederacy - Download
  5. 5) Blackfoot Nation Resolution - Download
  6. 6) MT & WY Tribal Leaders Council Resolution - Download

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Tyson Running Wolf - tysonrw@blackfeetnation.com or John Murray - jmflysdown@gmail.com