Chief Stanley Grier - Chief, Piikani Nation and President of the Blackfoot Confederacy Chiefs
403 305 8157
Tom Rodgers - Vice President, Global Indigenous Council & Senior Advisor, Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council
Courtney Bourgoin - Sierra Club
Montana-- Joining across international and sovereign lines, today the Blackfoot Confederacy -- comprised of the Piikani Nation, the Blackfeet Nation, the Siksika Nation and the Blood Tribe -- released a statement opposing the Trump Administration’s attempts to remove Endangered Species protections for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE)-- which the Confederacy holds as the “heart of the grizzly bear nation.”
The Trump administration is currently appealing a court ruling last fall that reinstated Endangered Species protections for the Yellowstone grizzly bear population, and the administration has been actively working to remove protections for the NCDE grizzly population as well.
In the statement, leaders cited deep cultural and spiritual connections to grizzly bears and noted that the bears’ survival is threatened by a changing climate, fossil fuel development, habitat destruction, and -- if protections are removed -- trophy hunts.
In 2016, the Blackfoot Confederacy initiated the historic North Amerian tribal accord The Grizzly: A Treaty of Revitalization, Reconciliation and Restoration, the most-signed tribal treaty in history with over 200 Tribal Nation signatories. The scope of the treaty includes conflict reduction, carrying capacity, and reintroduction of the grizzly to sovereign tribal lands where biologically-suitable habitat exists in the Great Bear’s historic range for cultural, economic and environmental revitalization for participating tribal nations.
See the full statement here.
In their letter, Tribal leaders made the following statements:
““The Blackfeet Nation and Piikani Nation are on the “frontlines” of the proposed Northern Continental Divide delisting issue. Our voices - those of the original stewards of the land - should be heard above any extractive industry corporation in listing and delisting decisions of species that have deep cultural significance to us, and which survive on our ancestral lands,” said Chairman of the Blackfeet Nation Tim Davis. “As we make this statement, one of our most sacred sites, Badger-Two Medicine – a holy site imbued by the Ba’ksíkoyi, the sacred grizzly bear – is once more threatened by fossil-fuel leases. It is time for tribal people to have a greater input into the management and protection of these species. Our collective door is open to the federal government to sit down and discuss a positive route forward that is a “win-win” for all concerned, not least for the sacred grizzly bear.”
Chief Grier and Chairman Davis have been at the forefront of publicly elevating the role of the Great Bear in Piikani-Blackfeet culture and the bear’s role in protecting sacred lands due to its status as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The struggle of the Blackfeet to protect the holy land of Badger-Two Medicine exemplifies what's at stake.
“With fewer than 700 grizzly bears remaining in fragmented pockets of diminishing habitat, if this current trends continue, some projections show that the grizzly in the North could be on the verge of extinction in as few as fifty-years,” said Chief Stanley Grier, Chief of the Piikani Nation and President of the Blackfoot Confederacy Chiefs. “The Crown of the Continent is the heartland of the Blackfoot Confederacy, and we will not stand by and watch our ancestors’ legacy pass into oblivion with the sacred grizzly bear, and see our children and future generations robbed once more of a vital part of their culture – that which is represented by the sacred and spiritual power of the grizzly bear.”
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The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.