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Blackfeet, Tester Upset At Interior Flip-Flop On Badger-Two Medicine

Two Medicine River, in the Badger-Two Medicine area.
Courtesy Gene Sentz

The Blackfeet Nation says it will ask a federal court on Monday to continue a fight to protect the Badger-Two Medicine area, after the US Interior Department reversed course on oil leases there.

"That was a surprise, we were totally caught off guard," says Tyson Runningwolf, a Democratic representative from Browning, and a member of the tribe.

"There’s one thing that unifies the tribe always and that’s protecting the Badger-Two Medicine at all costs, whatever it takes to be involved in protecting it from oil and gas development and protecting that sacred area," he says.

Adjacent to Glacier National Park on National Forest land, the Badger-Two Medicine is home to the Blackfeet creation story. Under former Secretary Ryan Zinke, the Department of the Interior cancelled two oil development leases in the area, and was defending the decision in court.

Last month, new Interior Secretary David Bernhardt reversed course and withdrew the challenge to one of the leases.

Today Democratic Sen. Jon Tester wrote Secretary Bernhardt, urging the government to re-initiate its defense of Badger-Two Medicine and consultation with the tribe. The tribe has also asked Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte to reach out to the Department of the Interior for continued protection of Badger-Two Medicine.

The government filed briefs to appeal the other court case over drilling in the 165,000-acre area in early April.

Nick Mott is a reporter and podcast producer who focuses on wildlife, natural resources, and the environment. He was editor on the podcasts Shared State and Fireline, and producer on the podcasts Threshold and Richest Hill.
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