fbpx
 
Kendall Edmo with her daughter, in the sacred Badger-Two Medicine area. A Blackfeet tribal member, Edmo works to protect the Badger-Two Medicine area from oil and gas drilling. (Photo: Rebecca Drobis for Earthjustice). 

HELENA, Mont. — A federal appeals court on Tuesday canceled a disputed oil and gas lease on land in Montana that is considered sacred to tribes.  

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down a 2018 court decision that allowed Louisiana-based Solenex LLC to keep its lease on 6,200 acres in the Badger-Two Medicine area near the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and Glacier National Park. 

The area is considered to be the sacred homeland and site of the creation story of Montana’s Blackfeet Nation and the Blackfoot tribes of southern Canada.  

The Solenex lease was the last remaining oil and gas lease on the land that had been issued in the 1980s. The U.S. The Department of Interior in 2016 canceled the remaining oil and gas leases in 2016.

John Murray, the Blackfeet's tribal historic preservation officer, told the Associated Press that the court's decision will close a “long and painful chapter in the history of our people.”

Murray also leads the Pikuni Traditionalist Association, which was among the groups intervening to defend against the Solenex lawsuit.

“Blackfeet have lived under a cloud of threat and uncertainty for decades, with the risk of our traditional homelands being industrialized,” Murray said in a statement.“The Badger-Two Medicine is essential to the cultural survival of the Blackfeet. It is our last refuge. The court’s decision today highlights the original error in leasing the Badger and provides great hope that historic mistakes can, at least in part, be corrected.” 

Murray noted that the Blackfeet Nation’s efforts to settle the lawsuit had been repeatedly rebuffed by Solenex.

 “This ruling finally puts the federal government on the right side of history,” said Jack Gladstone, speaking on behalf of the Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance. “The next step is to ensure the long-term future of the Badger-Two Medicine by securing permanent protection.”

Tim Preso, an Earthjustice attorney who represented the tribal and conservation groups challenging the lease reinstatement, hailed the ruling. 

“This ruling rightly rejects Solenex’s effort to resurrect an illegal oil and gas lease that never should have been issued in the first place,” Preso said. “The value of the Badger-Two Medicine region is in its wild beauty and irreplaceable cultural significance for the Blackfeet Nation — not in oil and gas.”

More Stories Like This

Biden Affirms Commitment to Tribal Nations, Announces New Initiatives at White House Tribal Nations Summit
PHOTOS: The White House Tribal Nations Summit
WATCH: The White House Tribal Nations Summit 
Tribal Leaders to Attend First In-person White House Tribal Nations Summit in Six Years
Tribal Business News Round Up: Nov. 28

You’re reading the first draft of history. 

November is  Native American Heritage Month in the United States. We feel like every month — and every day — is a reason for celebrating Native Americans and our heritage. That’s what we try to do here at Native News Online, with stories each day that celebrate, inform and uplift American Indian and Alaska Native people. Over the past year or so, we have been especially busy with three important reporting projects that are having an impact across Indian Country:

  • Indian Boarding Schools. We’ve reported and published more than 150 stories and special live stream video events to help shine a light on the dark era of boarding schools — and help create momentum for change.
  • Native Health Desk. Launched in January, this reporting initiative was created to heighten awareness of Native American health inequities and spotlight pockets of progress in Indian Country. So far we’ve reported and published nearly 120 stories and launched a monthly health newsletter that reaches more than 23,000 readers.  
  • Native Bidaske. In March, we launched this live stream interview program to highlight the work of Native Americans who are making news and leading change in Indian Country.  We have hosted guests from the federal government and Native rights advocates as well as Indigenous actors, comedians, journalists and models.   

We hope you will join us in celebrating Native American heritage and history this November and invite you to consider the old adage that “Journalism is the first draft of history.” If you appreciate the voice Native News Online gives to Native American people, we hope you will support our work with a donation so we can build our newsroom and continue to amplify Native voices and Native perspectives.

Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected]