The Department of Energy announced that it would provide $9 million for clean energy projects on tribal lands across the United States. The money will help 24 American Indian and Alaska Native communities selected by the Energy Department save money and reduce carbon emissions, according to Christopher Deschene, director of the department’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs. Despite the government’s effort to reduce carbon emissions in tribal areas, oil and gas extraction remains a major source of revenue and employment in many American Indian communities. “There will be always extraction of oil and gas on Indian lands,” Tyson Running Wolf, tribal secretary for the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, told The Huffington Post. While the Blackfeet are not a part of the clean energy project, two other tribes in Montana, the Crow and Chippewa Cree, did receive portions of the funding. Running Wolf and other Blackfeet leaders fought for decades to stop oil and gas drilling at the Badger-Two Medicine area, land sacred to the tribe near Glacier National Park. Under pressure from tribal members, last week President Barack Obama canceled an oil drilling lease belonging to Louisiana-based oil company Solenex that would have allowed it to drill in the area. “We are opposed to development in Badger-Two Medicine. We hold that place to be sacred,” Running Wolf said. “But we’re not opposed to oil and gas development on the Blackfeet reservation.” The Blackfeet and other tribes see exploiting fossil fuel reserves on their land as vital to their economic development.
From Huff Post Photo Credit John Vlahakis