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Trump Administration Moves To Re-Block Drilling On Sacred Blackfeet Land

Solenex well site is the last remaining oil lease in Badger-Two-Medicine.
Corin Cates-Carney
Montana Public Radio
Solenex Well Site, Badger-Two-Medicine.

The Trump administration filed in federal appeals court Tuesday to block oil and gas drilling near Glacier National Park on land considered sacred to the Blackfeet Nation.

The U.S. Department of Interior led by Secretary Ryan Zinke is contesting an energy development lease just south of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. It and others in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest were voided in the final days of the Obama administration, but reinstated by a federal judge this September.

Now the usually oil-friendly Trump administration is advocating to not develop the land.

John Murray, the Blackfeet Tribe historic preservation officer, says he’s thankful for Interior’s action.

“Ryan Zinke understands the Blackfeet's connection to the land. He’s from Montana.”

Zinke has said it would be inappropriate to allow drilling in the Badger-Two Medicine, which is home to some of the Blackfeet’s stories of creation.

The dispute over oil and gas development in the area has spanned more than 30 years, since the lease was first granted in the Reagan administration.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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