As a child, I dreamed of wild, rugged and beautiful places. I wished I was an explorer, to see a grizzly bear and walk in places devoid of human interference. By my mid-20s, I had all but given up this dream, settling instead for the calmer version of the West. The version with roads, fences and only convenient species of wildlife.
But my perspective changed in 1996, when I found the Badger-Two Medicine. On that day, my dreams came true. Since then, the Badger-Two Medicine has become a part of my soul. I have seen its rugged beauty nourish and heal many wonderful people. Over time it has become my church.
I have also become friends with descendants of its original human habitants. The Blackfeet people believe this to be the place of their origin. It’s their Jerusalem. And while I am a modern day convert to a Badger Two Med connection, they have worshiped here for centuries.
A Blackfeet friend has told me of his family, and how they escaped the government boarding schools and unwanted integration to practice revered ceremonies in this wild place. These people were forced into the square buildings of prairie reservations by the US government and forbidden to practice their religious rites. Their only escape was to return into the wild country to practice forbidden religious ceremonies.
Our government once visited unforgivable atrocities on these people, many involving the practice of their religion. And now our government is faced with the choice of whether to allow the greed for oil to defile this place forever. I salute Sen. Jon Tester for standing up and requesting that the department of interior cancel the petroleum leases in the Badger-Two Med. Freedom of religion, protection of iconic wildlife, and the love for wild places are all critical components of what we want America to be. It’s time to practice what we preach. The Badger-Two Medicine is the place to do it.
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