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Montana

Badger-Two Medicine

© TonyBynum.com

Highlighted Value

Sacred Lands

Culture and wildlands converge in the 130,000-acre Badger-Two Medicine area of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest in northwestern Montana.

For the Blackfeet Nation, the Badger-Two Medicine is considered the cradle of their culture, home of their creation story and the sacred Sun Dance that links millennia of history and culture with current and future generations. It is also ecologically irreplaceable: a place teeming with native wildlife species, including grizzly bear, genetically pure cutthroat trout, wolves, wolverine and elk. The Badger-Two Medicine is the connective habitat that provides needed migration paths between Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, as well as critical sanctuary for plants and wildlife. It is also the headwaters of two major waterways that feed the Blackfeet Reservation and the entire northern plains of Montana.

The Threat

Oil and Gas Drilling

Despite being so culturally and ecologically important, in the 1980s most of the area was leased for oil and gas drilling, in violation of bedrock environmental laws and without consultation with the Blackfeet Nation. From the moment of leasing, the decision has been mired in controversy and legal battles. After decades of work to eliminate the illegally issued oil and gas leases, the Blackfeet Nation, The Wilderness Society and the many others who fought to protect this incredible place declared victory in early 2017, when then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell cancelled the final two leases in the Badger-Two Medicine.

Sadly, the celebration was short-lived. Emboldened by the Trump administration’s pro-fossil fuels agenda, past leaseholders are looking to their friends in the White House to hand this landscape back over to the oil and gas industry. Two oil and gas companies are suing the government over their cancelled leases. If successful in court, they could force the federal government to reinstate their leases so they may be allowed to pursue roadbuilding and exploratory drilling in the heart of the Badger-Two Medicine.

“The fate of the Blackfeet Nation and our confederated Tribes is bound to the fate of the Badger-Two Medicine and we refuse to accept any activities within the Ceded Strip that violate this Traditional Cultural Site and our Treaty Rights.”
Chief Earl Old Person
2007
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