Montana Public Radio

Blackfeet Reservation

This handout was given to the State-Tribal Relations Committee, March 30, 2018. Annita Lucchesi, a doctoral student at Lethbridge University, in the Canadian province of Alberta, says native women make up 30 percent of missing persons in the state.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

Hundreds of Indigenous women go missing under suspicious circumstance every year in North America. A U.S. Senate Committee takes a closer look at the issue Wednesday.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee may hear startling statistics like this one during its hearing: Native Americans make up about 7 percent of Montana’s population. But according to Montana’s Native American Domestic Violence Review Commission, Native people are involved in 16 percent of all of the state’s intimate partner homicides.

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

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.

Map of Solenex lease site in the Badger-Two Medicine near Glacier National Park
Courtesy Montana Wilderness Association

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told the Associated Press today that the federal government plans to appeal a federal court ruling allowing oil and gas drilling in the Badger-Two Medicine area outside Glacier National Park.

The Badger-Two Medicine is the site of the creation story for the Blackfoot Tribes, and is located on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, adjacent to the Blackfeet Reservation.

Medical marijuana sign.
Flickr user Laurie Avocado (CC-BY-2)

The Blackfeet Nation Tribal Business Council decriminalized medical marijuana use on the reservation last week. At the same meeting, the council declared a state of emergency in response to drug and alcohol abuse on the reservation.

Invasive species decontamination in Montana includes some firefighting aircraft
Nicky Ouellet

Non-native species in Montana have a way of making their presence known.

In June a KULR TV reported this from near the Ft. Belknap reservation:

“Trooper Matt Finley says the driver of the vehicle swerved to avoid hitting a kangaroo,” said Angela Marshall.

Montana Department of Transportation crews clear roads north of Browning, MT on S-464, February 26, 2018.
Montana Department of Transportation

Gov. Steve Bullock says $200,000 in emergency energy assistance funding will be released to eligible families on three Montana Indian reservations hit hard this winter.

State health department spokesman Jon Ebelt says state officials have received reports of hardship among some residents of the Blackfeet, Fort Belknap and Northern Cheyenne reservations.

Imagery from NOAA geostationary (GOES) satellites, March 2, 2018 shows more snow on the way to Montana.
NOAA

Members of the state legislature’s American Indian Caucus are urging Montanans to donate money and help people impacted by extreme winter weather.

In an opinion column published in the Missoulian Friday, all 10 members of the Montana American Indian Caucus liken the plight of people caught in blizzards on three Native American reservations to that of farmers and ranchers facing drought and wildfire last summer.

Montana Department of Transportation crews clear roads north of Browning, MT on S-464, February 26, 2018.
Montana Department of Transportation

Schools and government offices on the Blackfeet Reservation were closed again Tuesday after another bout of winds buffeted the reservation, leaving roadways impassable, buried under snow drifts.

The reservation remains under a state of emergency and an Incident Command team is coordinating with the State of Montana, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other state, tribal and non-government groups.

Strong winds are expected later tonight through Tuesday over the Rocky Mountain Front and across all of Glacier County. The strong winds will lead to areas of blowing snow, with poor visibility at times. Some areas of white conditions are possible.
National Weather Service, Great Falls, MT.

The Blackfeet Reservation remains under a state of emergency as yet another blizzard bears down on the Rocky Mountain Front tonight into tomorrow. The series of storms have forced Heart Butte Public Schools to close 10 times since the start of the year.

A blizzard bringing high winds, whiteouts and dangerous travel conditons has hit parts of NW Montana today.
National Weather Service, Great Falls, MT.

Blackfeet Nation Disaster and Emergency Services is advising people to stay off roadways during a blizzard that’s hit the reservation carrying what’s described as “hurricane force winds” and white-out conditions.

Several major roadways, including Highway 89 north and south of Browning, are closed due to poor visibility and wind-blown snow drifts. U.S. Highway 2 is open but experiencing severe driving conditions. Conditions are expected to worsen tonight.

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