Tag Archives: Native American

Obamacare came to Montana Indian Country and brought jobs

The Affordable Care Act created new health coverage opportunities for more than half a million Native Americans and Alaska Natives — and jobs have followed on its coattails.

In Montana, this is playing out at the Blackfeet Community Hospital. It’s the only hospital on the Blackfeet reservation and has been mostly funded — and chronically underfunded — by the Indian Health Service, which has been in charge of Native American health care since its founding in the 1950s.

But now, many Native Americans have been able to afford health insurance on the Obamacare exchange, and last year, Montana expanded Medicaid. Now, about one in seven reservation residents gets Medicaid.

Blackfeet Community Hospital needed to build an infrastructure to deal with the byzantine bureaucracy that comes with taking Medicaid and private insurance. The tribe’s community college started a new curriculum to help meet the growing demand for people in Indian country to process insurance claims.

Blackfeet tribal member Gerald Murray took the courses. “I got a contract before I graduated in April, and then the day of graduation in May it became permanent so I applied for it,” he said.

Murray’s experience is an example of the health care law’s transformative power in Native American communities, said Montana’s director of American Indian Health, Mary Lynn Billy-Old Coyote.

“To me, there’s opportunity there to not only build health care, but to build your entire community and build jobs,” said Billy-Old Coyote.

Unemployment on most of Montana’s Indian reservations is at least double the rest of the state. And people who are working don’t always get health insurance with their jobs.

So ACA subsidies that bring down the cost of insurance premiums are a big deal, Billy-Old Coyote said.

Most Montanans, Native or not, can now get policies for about $75 a month. It is a big change for the reservation communities where people are accustomed to the underfunded IHS, which often didn’t pay for care unless someone was in immediate danger of losing life or limb.

“Now you’ve got an opportunity for American Indian people to truly have access to private insurance,” she said. “You have access to greater networks of providers and specialists, and all the things we generally don’t see you have access to.”

Medicaid expansion had a lot to do with the number of health care jobs in Montana growing by 3 percent last year, according to state statistics. And schools in Montana, including tribal colleges, are offering more classes in health care fields.

At Blackfeet Community College, 23-year-old Leroy Bearmedicine is working toward certification as an emergency medical technician.

“I’d like to become a registered nurse at some point, maybe even work my way up to flight nurse — something to get the adrenaline going,” he says.

Native American leaders have seen the Affordable Care Act as a means to remedy a series of broken promises by the federal government to care for them. They now fear that promise, too, will fade. One estimate suggests Montana will lose 3,000 health care jobs if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPR, Montana Public Radio and Kaiser Health News. It is published here under a creative commons license agreement and courtesy of KHN.

Tribe files legal challenge to stall Dakota Access pipeline

Construction crews have resumed work on the final segment of the Dakota Access pipeline and the developer of the long-delayed project said the full system could be operational within three months.

Meanwhile, a Native American tribe filed a legal challenge to block the work and protect its water supply.

The Army this week Energy Transfer Partners formal permission to lay pipe under a North Dakota reservoir, clearing the way for completion of the 1,200-mile pipeline.

Company spokeswoman Vicki Granado confirmed early Thursday that construction began “immediately after receiving the easement.”

Workers had already drilled entry and exit holes for the segment and oil had been put in the pipeline leading up to Lake Oahe in anticipation of finishing the project.

“The estimate is 60 days to complete the drill and another 23 days to fill the line to Patoka,” Granado said, referring to the shipping point in Illinois that is the pipeline’s destination.

Work was stalled for months due to legal opposition by the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes.

Both tribes argue that the pipeline threatens their water supply and cultural sites.

In a statement, Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier said the water “is our life. It must be protected at all costs.”

The Cheyenne River reservation in South Dakota borders the Standing Rock reservation, which straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border. The last piece of the pipeline is to pass under the lake on the Missouri River, which marks the eastern border of both reservations.

A separate court battle unfolded between the developer and the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the federal land where the last segment is now being laid.

President Donald Trump instructed the Corps to advance pipeline construction.

The Cheyenne River Sioux this week asked a federal judge to stop the work while a lawsuit filed earlier by the tribes proceeds.

Attorney Nicole Ducheneaux said in court documents that the pipeline “will desecrate the waters” that the Cheyenne River Sioux rely on.

Energy Transfer Partners, which maintains the pipeline is safe, did not immediately respond in court to the filing. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said he would hear arguments from attorneys on early next week.

The tribes’ lawsuit, filed last summer, has been on hold while the dispute over the final pipeline segment played out. The Cheyenne River Sioux on Thursday told the judge that they also want to make a claim on freedom-of-religion grounds.

“The sanctity of these waters is a central tenet of their religion, and the placement of the pipeline itself, apart from any rupture and oil spill, is a desecration of these waters,” Ducheneaux wrote.

Standing Rock Sioux attorney Jan Hasselman has said that tribe will also try to block the construction in court, with likely arguments that further study is necessary to preserve tribal treaty rights.

An assessment conducted last year determined that building the final segment of the pipeline would not have a significant effect on the environment. However, the Army decided in December that further study was warranted to address tribal concerns.

The Corps launched an environmental study on Jan. 18, but Trump signed an executive action six days later telling the Corps to allow the company to proceed with construction. Legal experts have disagreed on whether the Army can change its mind simply because of the change in White House administrations.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault said in a statement late Wednesday that the tribe is prepared to keep up the battle in the courts, “to fight against an administration that seeks to dismiss not only our treaty rights and status as sovereign nations, but the safe drinking water of millions of Americans.”

An encampment near the construction drew thousands of protesters last year in support of the tribes, leading to occasional clashes with law enforcement and hundreds of arrests.

Law enforcement officers who have maintained a presence in the area for months were on heightened alert Thursday for protests, though none was immediately reported.

Officers and National Guard soldiers were stationed on the hills near the camp and at a blockaded bridge on a nearby highway. Energy Transfer Partners has its own security at the drilling area.

In a statement earlier this week, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum urged “cooperation and restraint” from all parties and requested federal law enforcement assistance to keep the peace during construction.

Protesters rallied in several U.S. cities. Joye Braun and Payu Harris, two pipeline opponents who have been at the North Dakota protest encampment, said in an interview at a nearby casino that there’s frustration but also resolve in the wake of the Army’s decision.

“The goal is still prayerful, nonviolent direct action,” Braun said.

10 banks funding Dakota Access Pipeline decline meetings with tribal leaders

For the past six weeks, a global coalition has been pressuring banks providing project loans to the Dakota Access Pipeline to renegotiate or cancel their loans.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Indigenous leaders in December requested the banks meet with tribal representatives to hear their concerns. The deadline for banks to respond to the meeting request was Jan. 10.

As of Jan. 16, four banks had declined, including. BayernLB, BNP Paribas, Mizuho Bank and Suntrust.

Six banks failed to respond, including Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, BBVA Compass, ICBC, Intesa Sanpaolo, Natixis and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

However, seven banks met or agreed to meet with the tribe and its allies, including Citi, Crédit Agricole, DNB, ING, Société Générale, TD and Wells Fargo

Tribal leaders this week are stepping up their pressure on banks that refused to engage.

The Indigenous coalition at Standing Rock has a running billboard in Times Square asking millions of people to join the campaign to #DefundDAPL.

Organizers also continue to protest with bank occupations.

A news release from Standing Rock estimated the “brand-damaging campaigns … have already led to the closure of thousands of accounts worth a $46,314,727.18.”

To come is a “global week of action” to pressure the banks to discontinue loan disbursements to Energy Transfer Partners.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal chairman Dave Archambault II said in a press statement: “We are pleased that some of the banks behind DAPL are willing to engage Standing Rock Sioux leadership, but maintain that all 17 should not be helping a company who deliberately ignores our concerns. We call on the remaining banks to agree to a meeting with the Tribe. We know that they have heard Energy Transfer Partners’ side of the story, and they need to hear our perspective as well.”

Ladonna Bravebull Allard of Sacred Stone Camp added, “I want the banks to know that the power of their investment comes from the people, and the people are saying we have the right to water, and we will stand for the water. Stop investing in destruction of the earth.”

Dallas Goldtooth, Keep it in the Ground Organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network said: “As a movement to stop this dirty Bakken oil pipeline, we are demonstrating the inherent power of organized communities and mobilized citizens. We are showing Big Oil and government leaders that we know the power of our capital, and as such we collectively choose to invest in life and water, not death and oil. As first peoples of the land and in defense of our Indigenous rights, we will continue to rise, resist, self-determine and divest until the Dakota Access pipeline is nothing but the defeated aspirations of a Energy Transfer Partners’ dream.”

Johan Frijns, Director of BankTrack said: “The Dakota Access Pipeline project is supposed to be in compliance with the Equator Principles, and therefore guarantee Indigenous peoples’ rights to be properly consulted. The refusal of leading EP banks to meet with the Sioux Tribe not only makes a complete mockery of that commitment, but also poses a severe risk to the very credibility of the Equator Principles.”

 

Dakota Access Pipeline protest timeline

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday turned down the request for an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to build under the Missouri River, after months of protests from Native American and climate activists.

The following is a timeline of the project:

December 2014

Energy Transfer Partners LP applies to build a 1,172 mile (1,885 km), 570,000 barrel-per-day pipeline to deliver crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale fields to Patoka, Illinois, crossing South Dakota and Iowa to the North Dakota Public Service Commission, kicking off a year of public hearings in the state.

January 2016

North Dakota regulators approve the pipeline unanimously

April 29

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers holds a hearing for Native Americans on the pipeline. At that time, there was heated opposition to the project from Native tribes.

July 25

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved three easements for water crossings for the pipeline at Sakakawea, the Mississippi River and Lake Oahe. Lake Oahe is an ancestral site for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

July 27

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sues the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia in connection with the pipeline, citing violation of multiple federal statutes that authorize the pipeline’s construction and operation, and seeks an emergency order to halt construction. The tribe also alleges the pipeline threatens their environmental and economic well-being and would damage and destroy sites of historic, religious and cultural significance. The Sioux Tribe say that because the pipeline goes underneath Lake Oahe, approximately half a mile upstream of the tribe’s reservation, leaks from the pipeline would be directly in the tribe’s ancestral lands.

Aug. 24

Celebrities including Susan Sarandon, Riley Keough and Shailene Woodley joined members of the Tribe outside a courthouse in Washington, D.C., to protest the pipeline saying that it could pollute water and desecrate sacred land.

Sept. 3

Private security guards hired by Energy Transfer Partners used attack dogs and mace after violence erupted at a private construction site along the pipeline route. Six people were bitten by dogs, a scene that was captured on video and broadcast widely.

Sept. 6

Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians, which represents more than 500 tribes, spoke to nearly a dozen of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet-level advisers at a Sept. 6 meeting of the White House’s three-year-old Native American Affairs Council. Cladoosby delivered an impassioned request to his audience: stand with Native Americans who have united with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Sept. 9

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington rejected a broad request from Native Americans to block the project. He, however, rules that no construction activity on the Dakota Access may take place between Highway 1806 and 20 miles to the east of Lake Oahe. Construction activity to the west of Highway 1806 may proceed. The tribe appeals the decision.

Sept. 9

Less than an hour after Boasberg’s decision, the U.S. Justice and Interior Departments and Army made an unprecedented move and ordered a stop to construction near Lake Oahe until the Army Corps of Engineers reviews its previous decisions and decides if it needs to conduct a fuller environmental and cultural review.

Sept. 13

Energy Transfer Partners told employees in a letter, provided to media, that the company was committed to completing the project. The midstream operator cited that the pipeline was 60 percent complete, and that it had already spent $1.6 billion so far on equipment, materials and the workforce.

Oct. 9

The U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit said that an administrative injunction related to the emergency motion of the Standing Rock Tribe would be dissolved, citing that Dakota Access has rights to construct on private land up to Lake Oahe.

Oct. 11

Environmental activists across four states disrupted the flow of millions of barrels of crude from Canada into the United States in a rare, coordinate action that targeted several key pipelines simultaneously. The protest group, the Climate Direct Action, said their move was in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. As a safety precaution, companies operating the pipelines shut off sections of the lines for several hours while they investigated.

Earlier in the day, Energy Transfer Partners said it looked forward to prompt resumption of construction activities east and west of Lake Oahe on private land.

Oct. 25

Government-to-government tribal consultations began across six regions on how federal government decision-making on infrastructure projects could better include tribal concerns.

Nov. 8

Energy Transfer Partners says it has built the pipe to the edge of Lake Oahe and reiterates its intentions to complete the project.

Nov. 9

Following the victory of Donald Trump in the presidential election, climate activists and the Standing Rock Sioux say they still hope President Obama will be able to kill the pipeline definitively. Analysts say the line is more than likely to go through.

Nov. 14

The U.S. government, in a joint notice issued by the Department of the Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers, delayed a final decision on permitting. They said the permit had followed all legal requirements, but said more consultation with Native American tribes was needed.

Nov. 18

Energy Transfer Partners’ CEO Kelcy Warren told the Associated Press that the pipeline would not be re-routed. The statement came as protests grew more heated.

Nov. 20

About 400 activists gather on a bridge between the camp protest and the construction path and law enforcement officers respond by using tear gas and water cannons on them in freezing temperatures.

Nov. 26

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tells protesters they need to leave the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the primary protest camp located on federal land, by Dec. 5. They later say they have no plans to enforce this order.

Nov. 28

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issues an evacuation order for the Oceti Sakowin camp, citing harsh weather on the way. Officials the next day tell Reuters they plan on blockading the camp so supplies cannot get in. They later back off that plan to say they may just issue fines but retreat from that idea as well.

Nov. 30

A group of U.S. veterans announce they will bring more than 2,000 service members to North Dakota to stand as human shields between the protesters and law enforcement. They begin arriving over the next several days.

Dec. 4

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denies Energy Transfer Partners’ request for an easement to run under Lake Oahe, sparking a celebration amongst protesters. ETP says it will continue to fight for the line. The incoming Trump administration has said it supports Dakota Access, along with other pipeline projects.

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters celebrate, remain at camp

Thousands of protesters in North Dakota celebrated after the federal government ruled against a controversial pipeline project but were mindful the fight is not over, as the company building the line said it had no plans for re-routing the pipe.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Sunday it rejected an application to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to tunnel under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.

The decision came after months of protests from Native Americans and activists, who argued that the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline would damage sacred lands and could contaminate the tribe’s water source.
Energy Transfer Partners, in a joint statement with its partner, Sunoco Logistics Partners, said late on Sunday they do not intend to reroute the line, calling the Obama administration’s decision a “political action.” They said they still expect the project to be completed, noting that the Army Corps said they had followed all required legal procedures in the permitting process.

The mood among protesters has been upbeat since the rejection was announced at the Oceti Sakowin camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Activists were seen hugging and letting out war cries in response to the news.

With the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump supportive of the project, activists were concerned a reversal could be coming.

“This is a temporary celebration. I think this is just a rest,” said Charlotte Bad Cob, 30, from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. “With a new government it could turn and we could be at it again.”

The pipeline is complete except for a 1-mile (1.61 km)segment to run under Lake Oahe. That stretch required an easement from federal authorities.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it will analyze possible alternate routes, although any other route also is likely to cross the Missouri River.

The protest camp’s numbers have swelled in recent days, as hundreds of U.S. veterans have flocked to North Dakota in support of the protesters.

Some of those in a long line of traffic along Highway 1806 heading into the camp hollered and honked their horns after the news was announced.

Craig Edward Morning, 30, a carpenter from Stony Point, New York, said he will leave when the tribe says he should and the company agrees to stop building the line.

“They retreat first,” he said. “They’re the ones that aren’t welcome.”

FIGHT MAY BE A ‘LONG HAUL’

Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II, in a statement, said he hoped ETP, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and Trump would respect the decision.
“When it comes to infrastructure development in Indian Country and with respect to treaty lands, we must strive to work together to reach decisions that reflect the multifaceted considerations of tribes,” he said.

Trump could direct authorities to approve the line, even if before he takes over from Democratic President Barack Obama on Jan. 20 federal authorities will be studying alternative routes. North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer, a Republican, who has advised Trump on energy policy, said the decision ignores the rule of law.

Tom Goldtooth, a Lakota from Minnesota, and a co-founder of Indigenous Environmental Network, said he expects Trump to try to reverse the decision.

“I think we’re going to be in this for the long haul. That’s what my fear is,” he said.

In November, ETP moved equipment to the edge of the Missouri River to prepare for drilling, and later asked a federal court to disregard the Army Corps, and declare that the company could finish the line. That ruling is still pending.

Several veterans who recently arrived in camp told Reuters they thought Sunday’s decision, which came just as Oceti Sakowin has seen an influx of service members, was a tactic to convince protesters to leave.

Those spoken to after the decision said they had no plans to leave because they anticipate heated opposition from ETP and the incoming administration.

“That drill is still on the drill pad. Until that’s gone, this is not over,” said Matthew Crane, 32, from Buffalo, New York, who arrived with a contingent of veterans last week.

On the Web

Stand with Standing Rock.

Dakota Access protesters close Citibank accounts

As part of a global day of solidarity with Standing Rock water protectors, thousands of activists around the globe demanded that Citibank halt and rescind its loan disbursements for the Dakota Access pipeline.

Activists went to Citibank branches to close their accounts and ask that the bank honor its policies on Indigenous, human, and environmental rights.

Citibank holds the largest share in the Dakota Access pipeline and helped lay the groundwork for other financial institutions to join in financing the controversial project.

“Citibank claims that it cares about Indigenous rights, yet has led the way in financing this disastrous project on behalf of a fossil fuel company willing to destroy Standing Rock’s sacred land and water supply,” said Greenpeace spokeswoman Mary Sweeters. “Not only has the bank laid the groundwork for the project to move forward, in doing so it has signed off on the human rights abuses we’ve seen from Energy Transfer Partners and its security team. It’s time for Citi to put its loan disbursements on hold and withdraw from the pipeline agreement if all outstanding issues are not resolved to the satisfaction of the Standing Rock Sioux.”

In addition to visiting local branches to close accounts and demand accountability from Citi, activists were taking to phones throughout the day to pressure the bank to halt and rescind its loan disbursements.

The actions are part of a larger global day of solidarity with Standing Rock through which individuals closed their bank accounts, shut down banks and demand the withdrawal of sheriff departments.

Greenpeace, which is involved in coordinating the actions, delivered a letter to Citibank reiterating the demands outlined in a coalition letter initiated by BankTrack and sent to all 17 financial institutions backing the project.

The demands include:

• All further loan disbursements to the project are immediately put on hold.

• Citi demands from the project sponsor that all construction of the pipeline and all associated structures is put on hold until all outstanding issues are resolved to the full satisfaction of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

• In case such a resolution of outstanding issues is not achieved with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Citi will fully withdraw from the loan agreement and any other credit facilities to the Energy Transfer Family of Partnerships.

• A public statement is made by Citi on how it will act on the issues identified above.

TD Bank, Bank of America, Suntrust and Goldman Sachs are among the other financial institutions backing the project and the subjects of ongoing protest.

DNB, the largest bank in Norway, recently decided to sell its assets invested in the companies behind the pipeline and is exploring the possibility of terminating its loans as well, which amount for 10 percent of the project.

ING also has expressed concerns about the project and its impacts to the Standing Rock Sioux.

“We are confident that people power can stop this ill-conceived pipeline,” said Sweeters. “Whether it be through the banks pulling their loans or the (Obama) administration pulling the permitting, it’s time to listen to Standing Rock and all the Indigenous communities demanding action.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has delayed a decision on an easement for the pipeline to allow for additional analysis and discussion with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The original permitting for the pipeline was fast tracked without adequate tribal consultation and consent or environmental review.

With Donald Trump’s presidency on the horizon, calls have grown stronger for Barack Obama to designate a national monument to permanently protect Standing Rock.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal chairman responds to governor’s evacuation order

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Chairman Dave Archambault II issued this statement in response to North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s executive order calling for the mandatory evacuation of the camps for Dakota Access pipeline protesters:

Today, Gov. Dalrymple issued an executive order calling for mandatory evacuation of all campers located on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lands, also known as the Oceti Sakowin camp.

This state executive order is a menacing action meant to cause fear and is a blatant attempt by the state and local officials to usurp and circumvent federal authority.

The USACE has clearly stated that it does not intend to forcibly remove campers from federal property.

The governor cites harsh weather conditions and the threat to human life.

As I have stated previously, the most dangerous thing we can do is force well-situated campers from their shelters and into the cold.

If the true concern is for public safety than the governor should clear the blockade and the county law enforcement should cease all use of flash grenades, high-pressure water cannons in freezing temperatures, dog kennels for temporary human jails, and any harmful weaponry against human beings.

This is a clear stretch of state emergency management authority and a further attempt to abuse and humiliate the water protectors.

The state has since clarified that they won’t be deploying law enforcement to forcibly remove campers, but we are wary that this executive order will enable further human rights violations.

On the Web

Learn more about the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at standwithstandingrock.net. For incremental updates please follow our Facebook page at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe or follow us on Twitter @standingrockst.

32,000 oil, gas leases retired in sacred Badger-Two Medicine wilderness area

The U.S. Department of the Interior and Devon Energy on Nov. 16 announced retirement of more than 32,000 acres of oil and gas leases from the Badger-Two Medicine roadless area.

The move comes on the heels of a lease cancellation by the Department of the Interior and echoes the call by many that the Badger-Two Medicine region — a vital wildland link connecting the Bob Marshall Wilderness with Glacier National Park and an indispensable stronghold of Blackfeet culture — should not be industrialized by roads, bridges and drill rigs.

At a ceremony, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said, “The cancellation of leases that were set many years ago in an area that should never have had leases to begin with. This is the right action to take on behalf of current and future generations.”

“One of the core values that we have is to be a good neighbor. We certainly think this is a great opportunity to demonstrate the fact that we can be a good neighbor in this situation,” added Devon Energy president and CEO Dave Hager.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.,  also spoke at the ceremony. “There are special places in this world where we just shouldn’t drill, and the Badger-Two Medicine is one of those places. This region carries great cultural and historical significance to the Blackfeet Tribe and today’s announcement will ensure that the Badger-Two Medicine will remain pristine for both the Tribe and the folks who love to hunt, hike, and fish near Glacier Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.”

Conservation groups cheered the announcement.

“It’s incredibly satisfying, after all these decades of conflict and controversy, to see the players negotiating in good faith to find a solution,” said Kendall Flint, president of the local conservation group, Glacier — Two Medicine Alliance. The alliance has long sought retirement of the leases, which were sold for just $1 per acre more than 30 years ago.

The 130,000-acre Badger-Two Medicine is part of the Lewis and Clark National Forest and is bordered by Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

The Department of the Interior under Secretary James Watt, appointed by Ronald Reagan, granted the leases in the early 1980s, sparking immediate and prolonged opposition from local residents, conservationists and the Blackfeet Nation.

Other companies also have voluntarily retired more than 110,000 acres of Badger-Two Medicine leases.

Two smaller leases remain, according to the Interior Department. Efforts continue to negotiate their retirement.

Efforts to protect the Badger-Two Medicine wildland also have involved the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council, National Congress of American Indians, Glacier County Commissioners, retired Glacier National Park superintendents, retired U.S. Forest Service and BLM leadership, hunting and angling groups, local ranchers and residents, and even the rock band Pearl Jam.

“This is a landmark moment in the decades-long battle to protect the Badger-Two Medicine region, and future generations will be even more thankful for it than we are today,” said Tim Preso of Earthjustice.  “But the fight is not over.  We will continue to advocate for this wild, sacred landscape until the last threat to its integrity is removed.”

The 1980s-era leases have long stood in stark contrast to a legacy of conservation throughout Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front region. Beginning with the establishment of Glacier National Park in 1910 and bolstered by creation of the Sun River Game Preserve in 1913, conservation measures have since included: the creation of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (1932); Sun River Wildlife Management Area (1948); Bob Marshall Wilderness Area (1964); Scapegoat Wilderness Area (1972); Great Bear Wilderness Area (1978); and passage of the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act (2014).

Within the boundaries of the Badger-Two Medicine roadless area, recent conservation measures include a 2006 congressional ban on any future federal oil/gas leasing and a 2011 prohibition on motorized travel. The entire Badger-Two Medicine region has been designated a “Traditional Cultural District” under the National Historic Preservation Act, in recognition of its importance to Blackfeet tradition and culture.

Donald Trump owns stock in Dakota Access oil pipeline

Financial disclosures show GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump owns stock in the company building the Dakota Access oil pipeline, according to a report by The Guardian newspaper.

Federal disclosure forms for Trump, filed in May, show he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which intends to merge with Enbridge.

That’s down from stock listed at between $500,000 and $1 million in a form a year earlier.

Trump’s disclosure form also shows the presidential candidate holds between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66 stock, which has a one-quarter share of Dakota Access.

Also, The Guardian reported that campaign contribution disclosures show Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren donated $3,000 to Trump’s campaign, plus $100,000 to a committee supporting Trump’s candidacy, as well as $66,800 to the Republican National Committee.

Judge drops riot charge against Democracy Now! journalist Goodman

Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman won’t face a riot charge stemming from her coverage of a protest against construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota, with a judge saying Monday that there was no cause for it.

Judge John Grinsteiner refused to sign off on the misdemeanor riot charge, which prosecutor Ladd Erickson had pursued after dismissing a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge against the journalist on Friday. However, authorities would not rule out the possibility Goodman could face other charges.

Erickson has said Goodman was acting like a protester when she reported on a clash between protesters and pipeline security last month. Her defense attorney, Tom Dickson, maintains Goodman was doing her job.

The protests have drawn thousands of people to the area where Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is trying to wrap up construction on the $3.8 billion, 1,200-mile pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois. Opponents of the pipeline worry about potential effects on drinking water on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and farther downstream, as well as destruction of cultural artifacts.

Goodman is one about 140 people who have been charged in recent weeks with interfering with the pipeline’s construction in North Dakota.

After the judge’s decision Monday, Erickson referred questions to Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey. Asked whether authorities would pursue other charges, Preskey said, “It’s all under review.” She would not elaborate.

Goodman told reporters outside the courthouse that Grinsteiner’s decision was a “vindication for all journalists and a vindication for everyone.”

Dickson said prosecutors are wrong to continue to pursue charges against Goodman.

“The first charge was frivolous and the second charge was even more frivolous,” Dickson said. “Enough is enough. They need to let it go.”

An arrest warrant was issued for Goodman after she reported on a clash on Sept. 3, when Standing Rock Sioux officials said crews bulldozed several sites of “significant cultural and historic value” on private land. Energy Transfer Partners denies those allegations.

Law enforcement officials said four security guards and two guard dogs received medical treatment. A tribal spokesman said six people were bitten by guard dogs and at least 30 people were pepper-sprayed.

Goodman, who is based in New York, said she “came to North Dakota to cover this epic struggle … what we found was horrifying.”

About 200 protesters gathered outside the county courthouse Monday as Goodman was set to appear for a hearing that never happened. Many held signs that included, “This is not a riot.” About 100 officers in riot gear were stationed outside the courthouse to monitor those protesters.

Morton County sheriff’s spokesman Rob Keller confirmed one man was arrested on charges including disorderly conduct.

Authorities said pipeline protesters earlier Monday briefly blocked a Bismarck-Mandan bridge across the Missouri River. They dispersed when ordered by law officers.

Carlos Lauria, senior Americas coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said any charges against Goodman are an attempt to intimidate reporters from covering protests of “significant public interest.”

Goodman’s show airs daily on hundreds of radio and TV stations and over the internet.

It’s not the first time Goodman has had a brush with the law while covering events. She and two of her producers received $100,000 in a settlement over their arrests during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

St. Paul and Minneapolis agreed to pay a combined $90,000 while the federal government agreed to pay $10,000. The lawsuit named the federal government because a Secret Service agent confiscated the journalists’ press credentials.

Goodman said at the time the money would go “to support independent, unfettered” journalism about such events.