MTPR

Harry Barnes

Leaders from the Blackfeet Nation and U.S. Interior Department signed documents Tuesday implementing a $471 million settlement over water rights claims.

Montana Department of Transportation crews clear roads north of Browning, MT on S-464, February 26, 2018.
Montana Department of Transportation

Gov. Steve Bullock says $200,000 in emergency energy assistance funding will be released to eligible families on three Montana Indian reservations hit hard this winter.

State health department spokesman Jon Ebelt says state officials have received reports of hardship among some residents of the Blackfeet, Fort Belknap and Northern Cheyenne reservations.

Huddled behind his white pickup truck in northwestern Montana, Roland Kennerly stuffs his hands into his coat pockets.

"Oh, this wind," he says. "It's starting to snow now."

The road had turned into a muddy slop leading towards a pocket of socked-in mountains and roadless grassland known as the Badger-Two Medicine area.

"You can only get in there by walking or by horseback, so it keeps it in its natural state," Kennerly says. "I hope it stays that way, for my kids and my kids' kids."

The Trump administration has cancelled funding for the Blackfeet Nation’s range rider program. These are tribal members who inspect cattle and make sure the land isn’t overgrazed. Now they could potentially lose their jobs and the Blackfeet tribal council isn’t pleased.

Blackfeet tribal council member Roland Kennerly sits at the edge of the Badger-Two Medicine area near the Blackfeet Reservation.
Nate Hegyi / YPR

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended a new national monument at Badger-Two Medicine. While the Blackfeet Nation says the proposal is a good start, they’re also hesitant to fully embrace it before having a say in how the proposed monument is managed. 

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