Tribes Sergeant-at-Arms, Lee Juan Tyler, who was among the tribal leaders that met with Ashe. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes continues to oppose delisting, but its position has been consistently misrepresented in the press by the USFWS, to the degree that an independent fact checker from TGT described USFWS’s claims as “demonstrably false.” The Shoshone-Bannock and sister Yellowstone treaty tribe, the Eastern Shoshone, both support the grizzly treaty.
“Article IV of the Fort Bridger Treaty states that the Shoshone-Bannock want to make sure that our lands are protected, along with our ancestral lands that are unoccupied, but are presently classified as federal lands. Grizzlies inhabited those lands, and grizzly bears could still inhabit those lands, as that biologically suitable habitat is in our ancestral homeland. We want the grizzly bear protected with those lands, and the grizzly bear returned to those areas where we can co-manage them with the USFWS. These are our treaty lands, our ancestral homelands,” explains Tyler.
Nolan Yellow Kidney, Blackfeet Sun Dance Leader, who will lead ceremony at the Yellowstone treaty signing.
The Piikani Nation Chief and Council of the Blackfoot Confederacy initiated the grizzly treaty. “Spiritual and Sun Dance leaders, elders, and councilpersons have all denounced delisting and trophy hunting the grizzly, and warned of the detrimental consequences to our youth and future generations if this should occur. Given the significance of the grizzly bear in the traditional ceremonial practices of the Blackfoot Confederacy, myself and others have categorized delisting the grizzly as an act of cultural genocide against our people,” says Chief Stanley Grier, the driving force behind the treaty and Chief of the Piikani Nation. In their respective resolutions in the years leading up to the treaty, tribes have bemoaned the lack of transparency in the process, and USFWS’s failure to respond to the official requests for data made in those legislative documents. As a result, tribes have received information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). “It is now apparent that the motivational factors behind both the delisting of the grizzly bear and the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline are closely aligned,” states the Piikani Nation Chief and Council in a recent declaration that correlates the two issues after reviewing FOIA disclosures.
USFWS’s delisting rule identifies 28 mining claims with operating plans in what it considers core grizzly habitat in Yellowstone. “Unless Congress repeals the 1872 General Mining Act, that law will hold primacy in respect to the 28 mining claims,” warns the Piikani Nation DAPL/Delist declaration. “We do not need to elaborate upon the impact the trophy killing of a being we consider to be fundamental to our culture and spiritual well-being will have on our people and their ability to practice their religion, or how that will be exacerbated if that killing is committed on sacred land in proximity to sacred sites, but we do need to raise the specter of the destruction of these sacred sites if, as appears inevitable, corporate energy development is initiated on the lands the grizzly presently protects through its ESA status,” the Piikani declaration underscores. To date, no Tribal Historic Preservation Office has been contacted to “survey, determine, and catalog” these sacred and historic sites throughout Greater Yellowstone. “If they are not, these sites will be subject to desecration and ultimately lost, resulting in irreparable injury to a multitude of tribes,” conclude the Piikani, based upon past and present tribal experience, the latest exhibit being the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Through one of the FOIAs, tribal leaders received an email thread between USFWS Director Ashe and his assistant, Gary Frazer, in which they lay out the strategy for delisting the grizzly that has brought them to this point. In it, Ashe writes: “I may be missing something, but this recommendation seems at odds with the ‘best available’ science standard of ESA.” Tribal Nations haven’t missed anything on grizzly delisting, and the Piikani Nation has constructed a historic treaty for the world to witness this weekend. The treaty can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.