The U.S. Interior Department Tuesday canceled the final two oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area between Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Reservation. The undeveloped leases were first issued in the 1980's in an area that is sacred to the Blackfeet Nation.
"It puts an end to a three-decades long struggle," says John Murray, a Blackfeet Tribal Preservation Officer.
He says that, over the past 30 years, many people fought to stop oil and gas development in the Badger-Two Medicine area.
"A lot of them are still around, but a lot of those people never lived to see this day. In that sense it’s a real victory, but it’s still kind of bittersweet," Murray says.
The Badger-Two Medicine area is the site of the creation story for both the Blackfeet Nation and the Blackfoot tribes of Canada. It’s on land that is now managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Today’s decision by the Interior Department follows the cancelations of 15 leases there held by Devon Energy back in November.
Another lease was canceled in March, but Solenex, the Louisiana company it was issued to, is challenging that in federal court. The Interior Department says it notified lease owners in Nebraska and Texas of today’s cancelations.