Fighting tribal coal

Down in the Talk Radio Update, I mentioned that Aaron Flint seemed to be off base in suggesting that coal development on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation is being blocked by do-gooder federal bureaucrats who think they know better than tribal members what is good for them.

As evidence that opposition to coal development there persists, and not just from bureaucrats, I offer this news release, which came Thursday:

LAME DEER — Yesterday over 170 Northern Cheyenne tribal members submitted detailed and substantive comments to the DEQ asking for a thorough, transparent and comprehensive study of the proposed Otter Creek coal mine in southeastern Montana.

 “We believe our community will bear the brunt of the negative impacts from the Otter Creek mine. Sacrificing the land, water, animal and plant life for mining and money is not worth what our ancestors fought and gave their life. Our group is worried about the crime, accidents, drugs and other social issues that come along with boomtowns that our Tribe is not equipped to handle. We are being asked to deal with this so that a transnational corporation can make billions of dollars shipping coal to Asia,” said Tom Mexican Cheyenne.

 The proposed mine’s proximity to the border of the reservation is of particular concern to Northern Cheyenne tribal members. Otter Creek valley, used for thousands of years by tribal peoples contains cultural, historic and burial sites important to the Cheyenne people and many other Plains Tribes and serves as important wildlife habitat for hundreds of wildlife species.

 “To preserve language culture and identity you must protect air, land, and water, that’s who we are.  Without language and land we are not who we say we are,” said Phillip Whiteman Jr., Northern Cheyenne Sweet Medicine Chief.

 People have watched as North Dakota reservations have experienced dramatic increases in crime, traffic accidents and cultural conflict from nearby oil development. When coupled with environmental impacts of air pollution, water pollution, decreased wildlife populations, many tribal members now are opposing the development of the mine. In addition, many young Northern Cheyenne are being trained in renewable energy.

 “A group of us are going to get certified in solar voltaic installation on Pine Ridge at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center this month and a couple of us will go on to a larger installation project in Colorado this summer. We want a different future for our children. Coal is a dead end for us,” said Vanessa Braided Hair, Northern Cheyenne wildlands firefighter.

 The Oglala Sioux Tribal President submitted a letter to DEQ yesterday in solidarity with the Northern Cheyenne citizens who submitted comments.

This is not some environmentalist fantasy. Opposition there remains genuine.


One thought on “Fighting tribal coal

  1. When it was voted on to approve coal, go figure coal was going at a high sale rate as energy prices were sky high. At the same time, however, while coal was approved, development for coalbed methane was resoundingly defeated by like a 80% margin. The tribe actually lost a lawsuit against cbm co.s dumping waste into the Tongue River.

    Also, most of the water in the area comes from underground springs, and obviously the cbm techniques have a good way of drying up groundwater. Look at Texas now with all of its cracked earth, and look at WY in a few years where cbm wrecked havoc on underground water sources. The Cheyenne want no part of that.

    About the coal, the thing is it was voted for because coal was priced high at the time like I mentioned. The Crow tribe was getting rumored 4billion dollar deals with Australia, etc Now, however, with the push to feed China with more more more quantity to make up for what coal lacks in price, people are second guessing if its worth it. Although concerns about “boom town” affects are stated, realistically I don’t think it would come close to being on par with what ND tribes are dealing with. Go figure, the nearby Decker mine is being shut down.

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