Tribal leader seeks president’s support to protect the Badger-Two Medicine
BROWNING, MONTANA — Chief Earl Old Person of the Blackfeet Nation recently asked President Obama for his support in ending oil leases in the Badger-Two Medicine in the Rocky Mountains.
The Badger-Two Medicine is 165,588 acres, and is surrounded by the Blackfeet Reservation, Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and the Rocky Mountain Front. This largely roadless area is of significant cultural and spiritual importance to the Blackfeet Nation.
Chief Old Person, a member of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council since 1954, noted that the Treaty of 1855 and the agreement made in 1895 reserved traditional rights, including access to practice tribal religion. He also said that the Badger-Two Medicine is sacred to the Blackfeet people and is known as the “Backbone of the World.”
“This area is part of who we are; it’s a part of our creation story,” said Old Person. “We go to the Badger-Two Medicine to gather medicines and food, and to be closer to our Creator.”
Without consultation with the Blackfeet Nation, the Reagan administration leased the Badger-Two Medicine in 1982 to oilmen for $1.00 per acre.
Of the 47 original leases issued, 18 remain. The tribe has pursued the cancellation of these leases. In 2013, leaseholder Sidney Longwell of Solenex, LLC, filed a lawsuit in district court to begin drilling. No ruling has yet been made.
“I have a responsibility to help protect our sacred lands for our children and their children,” said Old Person. “I call on President Obama to work with the Blackfeet people to protect the Badger-Two Medicine from the threat of oil leases that will desecrate the land.”
Old Person also extended an invitation to Obama to visit the reservation and Badger-Two Medicine.
“Blackfeet Country is beautiful,” said Old Person. “I’d invite the president to join me for a tour of the Badger-Two Medicine. He has a duty to protect our treaty rights but, more than that, if he saw what we are fighting for, it would be a powerful thing.”