HELENA — Blackfeet musician Jack Gladstone has invited a Louisiana oil executive to visit him on the reservation and discuss relinquishing his company’s oil leases south of Glacier National Park.
Gladstone wrote to Solenex Inc. manager Sidney Longwell on Aug. 30, telling him the company’s drilling plans along the Rocky Mountain Front would “violate both the sanctity of this landscape and the treaty rights” of the Pikuni-Blackfeet people, the Independent Record reported.
“Sidney, my home is on the Blackfeet Reservation. I may not have all the amenities of the big city, but a pot of coffee is always on and a meal never far from the stove,” Gladstone wrote. “I invite you to visit me here, to deepen our understanding of each other’s motives and visions regarding the Badger-Two Medicine/Hall Creek wildlands.
“We can break bread, share stories, and walk together upon this land we both treasure. We may learn from each other.”
Solenex recently filed a lawsuit against several federal agencies seeking the right to explore for fossil fuels on about 6,200 acres of land. The lawsuit said Longwell obtained the lease in 1982 and has been unable to develop it. The government indefinitely suspended exploration on federal land on the Rocky Mountain Front in 1998.
Gladstone’s letter suggests the company take advantage of 2006 legislation that offer incentives to companies withdraw leases along the Front and obtain leases “in far less spiritually rich landscapes.”
“The Badger-Two Medicine region is a refuge for our Blackfeet people, one of the last geographical strongholds of our cultural lifeways,” wrote Gladstone, a board member of the Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance.
Gladstone told the Independent Record on Monday that he hadn’t heard from Longwell, but still hopes they can find common ground.
“Our definition of treasure is different, but I would love to do a walk through this area with him and with is family,” Gladstone said. “I’m not sure he’s even read the letter, but my outreach to him is sincere.”
The Solenex lawsuit, filed in June, names Lewis and Clark National Forest Supervisor Bill Avey, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Forest Service Region 1 Supervisor Fay Krueger, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Bureau of Land Management state director Jamie Connell; acting BLM director Mike Pool and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
On Monday, the federal defendants filed a motion seeking dismissal of the lawsuit. They argue they are not denying Solenex the ability to explore for fossil fuels, but acknowledge that the exploration suspension remains in place.
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