Aug 13, 2013 - Save Sacred Chief Mountain, By Elrae Potts
Last week I was shocked when I read on Tony Bynum’s blog that Chief Mountain, a prominent peak in Glacier National Park that straddles the U.S. Canadian border, has been leased for oil and gas drilling. Records show that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) approved leases to all Blackfeet controlled lands back in May 2013. Nations Energy LLC now holds a 5 year lease to drill 3 oil wells on 4,000 acres on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Chief Mountain is included. I cannot find any sense in this at all! How could tribal leaders make a decision like this? They must have known how people would react, especially the Canadian bands of the Blackfoot.
Besides providing crucial habitat for flora and fauna, playing a key environmental role on the reservation, and being an ancient rock formation important to the history of the Blackfoot, Chief Mountain is a sacred site where Indigenous peoples have held ceremony for time immemorial. Chief Mountain is to the Blackfoot what Bear Butte is to the Oceti Sakowin (Lakota, Dakota and Nakota). It holds great spiritual energy.
Chief Mountain is such a sacred place; especially to the Blackfoot Confederacy, which resides on the Canadian side. They were apparently not consulted on this decision, despite the fact that they will be disproportionately affected. A few members of the U.S. section of that nation sold out to GREED and are allowing this desecration to happen vis-a-vis oil production. This is terribly heartbreaking. While I am Dakota, my husband is Piikani and Kainai (Northern Blackfoot and Blood), from the Canadian side of the Blackfoot Confederacy. The people on the Canadian side are innately connected to this Chief Mountain. My heart hurts for them.
People travel to Chief Mountain from all over the world to hold ceremony there. It is like a holy temple, a masque, or a church- only Natives have been congregating there to worship and pray for thousands of years.
Lori New Breast, Astiniki “Kills Close,” member of Amskapikuniacki, Ceremonial societies member and descendent of the Blackdoor Band, has this to say in regards to Chief Mountain:
“Creator gifted Ninastako/Chief Mountain as a sacred place. Ninastako is a living spiritually dynamic place. Nitsitapiksi (Real People)/members of the Blackfoot Confederacy have relationship with Ninastako through spiritual physical presence; Ninastako is a unique place of spiritual clarity, dreams, songs, and teachings. Ninastako/Chief Mountain is a place where universal forces of living earth beings, above beings, water beings and forces of air hold sacred relationship teachings and transfer spiritual cultural knowledge. Ninastako provides a place to keep the relationships with the Creators sacred throughout the globe and with members of the Blackfoot Confederacy. The fracking for gas and oil poisoning process and geological assault proposed by Nations Energy LLC of Chief Mountain is an affront to our human rights and an assault on our cultural ways of being to honor all life; and prevents our freedom of religious practices, our freedom of movement to access to unique spiritual environments, and our freedom to receive knowledge to honor the way we want to live. Members of Blackfoot Confederacy uphold our unique cultural ways of beings and understand the horror of this historical trauma proposed by fracking Chief Mountain our sacred site. Denial and exclusion of our Blackfoot Confederacy human, cultural and member rights to have fully informed consent has led to potential travesty.”
We cannot allow Chief Mountain to be destroyed in the name of Big Oil and GREED. It is a holy place, set aside for us to conduct powerful ceremonies. Children of the Blackfoot Confederacy deserve to have a place to pray. Do not let that sacredness be stolen away from them. Do not let toxic oil poison the pristine environment that is Chief Mountain.
A Spiritual Gathering is being planned in hopes of saving the sacred Chief Mountain. The event is scheduled for August 17, 2013 at 11am. It will happen at the base of Chief Mountain. Come and support the Blackfeet people in protecting their sacred site.
We cannot afford to lose another sacred site. Join me in fighting to save Chief Mountain, we need your voice. My children thank you.
You can get all the latest news on Chief Mountain here: https://www.facebook.com/SaveTheSacredChief
Please sign this moveon.org petition; it demands no drilling take place on Chief Mountain:
Elrae Potts, MSW is an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation in North Dakota. She is also a descendent of the Standing Rock Hunkapa Lakota Nation. She has been married to a member of the Piikani Nation (Canadian Blackfoot) & descendant of the Kainai Nation (Blood Tribe) Steve for 21 years, and they have four children. Elrae received her BS in Human Services and her MSW at the University of Montana. She has been a member of Montana Indian People’s Action (IPA) for two years and currently serves as the Board of Directors Chairwoman. Through IPA she engages in organizing work toward ending racial, social, economic and environmental injustices that are inflicted upon Indigenous people. She has been active on several boards & committees and has been a speaker/trainer since 2001. Elrae is dedicated to serving the people of Indigenous nations and is active in her community.