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Cheney Accuses Tribes of "Destroying our Western Way of Life" over Sacred Grizzly Protections

Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming - On a momentous day for Tribal Nations, Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), the House Republican Conference Chairwoman, stated that the successful litigation by tribes and environmentalists to return the grizzly bear in Greater Yellowstone to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) “was not based on science or facts” but motivated by plaintiffs “intent on destroying our Western way of life.”

One of the largest tribal-plaintiff alliances in recent memory prevailed in the landmark case, Crow Tribe et al v. Zinke last September, when US District Judge Dana Christensen ruled in favor of the tribes and environmental groups after finding that the Trump Administration’s US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had failed to abide by the ESA and exceeded its authority in attempting to remove federal protections from the grizzly. Tuesday, USFWS officially returned federal protections to the grizzly.

Removing protections from the bear, revered as sacred to a multitude of tribes, would have left the grizzly vulnerable to high-dollar trophy hunts and lifted leasing restrictions on some 34,375 square miles. Extractive industry, livestock and logging interests are among those desirous of capitalizing on the area, a region comprised of tribal treaty, reserved rights and ceded lands.


Global Indigenous Council. July 31, 2019

NEW Statement: Blackfoot Confederacy Opposes Removal of Endangered Species Protections For the Sacred Bear in the Heart of Grizzly Bear Nation

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.


Sierra Club, Monday, July 1, 2019

Zinke's DOI Retreats on Stripping Protections from Sacred Grizzly in Blackfoot Confederacy and CSKT Glacier Heartland

Letter from Jared Huffman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife


May 7 2019

Zinke's DOI Retreats on Stripping Protections from Sacred Grizzly in Blackfoot Confederacy and CSKT Glacier Heartland

MISSOULA, Mont. - In one norm not yet dismantled by President Trump, his administration made an announcement on the eve of a holiday that wasn't good news for its policy objectives. The Department of Interior has abandoned its previously stated intent of removing Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from the grizzly bear in the heartland of Blackfoot Confederacy and Confederated Salish and Kootenai country in Montana's Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE). For Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, a resident of Whitefish, Montana, it is the second crushing defeat on the grizzly issue in a matter of weeks.

"We were on track to try and have a proposal, or at least have an evaluation of recovery and a potential proposal, out by the end of the calendar year," said Hilary Cooley, Zinke's so-called grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Cooley conceded that the Trump Administration's defeat in Crow Tribe, et al v. Zinke, the legal challenge led by tribes and environmental groups to return protections to grizzlies in Yellowstone had derailed Interior's policy. For tribes, the court ruling stopped trophy hunts of the sacred being and protects ancestral lands from being opened to extractive industry development.

"That's put things on halt for both ecosystems. So we need to take a little time and figure out what this means, how to move forward," Cooley summarized.



Dear Secretary Zinke,

We know as you do that every generation inherits a world it never made; and, as it does so, it automatically becomes the trustee of that world for those who come after. In due course, each generation makes its own accounting to its children. Therefore we reach out to you today on a matter that demands justice, courage and ultimately honor. You have many times visited our council in the shadow of the “Backbone of the World” as we spoke these very words and how to make a better life for our children. You as former military man know these words. You know they served not only as your military code of conduct but also a code of conduct for how one should walk in this world.

September 25, 2017

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