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On October 3 in Jackson Hole, Interior’s Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee – Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee is expected to approve the post-delisting regulatory document, the Conservation Strategy.

Chief Vincent Yellow Old Woman, Chief of the Siksika Nation, and others, have categorized the proposed delisting of the grizzly bear as an act of cultural genocide against our people."

America’s first national park should no longer have features named after the proponents and exponents of genocide, as is the case with Hayden Valley and Mount Doane.

From the outset, the Piikani Nation and other Tribal Nations warned that the motivation behind grizzly delisting was to relax and remove those restrictions on land usage that the grizzly’s ESA status required. Now that the grizzly is no longer protected, the land – all of it ancestral aboriginal land, much of it imbued by sacred sites that are now threatened – is open to resource extraction. The delisting rule announced by Secretary Zinke even includes admissions that nowhere is off-limits to extractive industry, not even the so-called “Primary Conservation Area.” The delisting rule is in keeping with the Trump Administration’s policy on increasing fossil fuel production, and opening federal and Indian lands once considered off-limits to Big Energy. Grand Teton, ANWR, Bears Ears, and Greater Yellowstone are among the areas in the crosshairs, just like the grizzly.  


“It is true that development can occur in conjunction with oil and gas leases in permitted resource exploration or extraction sites such as oil and gas exploratory wells, production wells, plans of operation for mining activities, and work camps.”

US Fish & Wildlife Service/Interior Greater Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Delisting Rule, Announced June 22, 2017 – Effective July 31, 2017


Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, summarized many of the concerns tribes have raised:

Read the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s petition for a Congressional investigation into the conflict of interests of federal employees and politicians who drove this delisting, who all have ties to Big Energy. Piikani supported our brothers and sisters from Pine Ridge in that effort, and continue to do so.


“Central to the Oglala Sioux’s complaint are ties between a US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) official and trophy hunting juggernaut, Safari Club International, and an apparent connection to multinational energy company, Anadarko Petroleum and Gas. The official, former Acting FWS Director, Matt Hogan, who now works out of the FWS Mountain-Prairie regional office and has been FWS’s point man on grizzly delisting, was formerly Safari Club International’s chief lobbyist to Capitol Hill. At the federal-state Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee meeting in Choteau, Montana on June 20, Hogan objected to being characterized as a trophy hunter, but was silent on his alleged connections to Anadarko Petroleum and Gas, which advertises itself as “one of the largest landowners and leaseholders in the state of Wyoming,” and is among the biggest campaign finance contributors to Wyoming Governor, Matt Mead, and Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso from Wyoming’s Congressional delegation, all of whom have aggressively promoted the grizzly delisting agenda and the dismantling of the ESA.

As the Oglala pointed out, the Wyoming politerati’s coal begrimed and oil smeared fingerprints on grizzly delisting don’t end there, as Hogan and his colleagues engaged oil and gas services giant Amec Foster Wheeler to undertake the scientific peer review of FWS’s grizzly delisting rule. Former Halliburton executive Jonathan Lewis was appointed CEO of Amec within days of the proposed rule first being published, and just in time for his new company to undertake the review. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, the godfather of Wyoming politics, was Halliburton CEO from 1995–2000.”

Chairman Brandon Sazue, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.

If no “pause” is granted by the Dept. of Interior, the delisting process for the grizzly bear in Yellowstone will continue to be conducted in violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). President Barack Obama supports the UNDRIP, yet the Dept. of Interior is failing to abide by it in this instance, as the Piikani Nation articulated to you in our letter of July 2015. The DOI, DOJ and DOA joint Dakota Access statement references how Tribal Nations have expressed “heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites.” We hereby do the same in relationship to Greater Yellowstone, where, if protections are removed from the grizzly bear through delisting, what protections exist for the land will be relaxed or removed. Greater Yellowstone contains innumerable sacred and historic sites to not only the Piikani Nation and our sister tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy, but also to the other Associated Tribes of Yellowstone. As many Tribal Nations have emphasized in their respective resolutions opposing the delisting of the grizzly bear, Tribal Historic Preservation Offices must be engaged to survey, determine, and catalog these many sacred and historic sites before delisting is implemented, for if they are not, these sites will be subject to desecration and ultimately lost, resulting in irreparable injury to a multitude of tribes.


We do not need to elaborate upon the impact the trophy killing of a being we consider to be fundamental to our culture and spiritual well-being will have on our people and their ability to practice their religion, or how that will be exacerbated if that killing is committed on sacred land in proximity to sacred sites, but we do need to raise the specter of the destruction of these sacred sites if, as appears inevitable, corporate energy development is initiated on the lands the grizzly presently protects through its ESA status. Unless Congress repeals the 1872 General Mining Act, that law will hold primacy in respect to the 28 mining claims with operating plans in Yellowstone that USFWS references in its grizzly bear delisting rule. Those mines are in core grizzly bear habitat, and it remains unclear how many such claims exist throughout Greater Yellowstone. Upon development, those mines will threaten environmental harms to Tribal Nations’ sacred and historic sites, and to treaty lands in the region, therefore the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act must be observed and adhered to.


Adding to this concern is that USFWS chose one of the world’s largest oil and gas services multinationals, Amec Foster Wheeler, to manage the scientific peer review of the delisting rule. That a former Halliburton executive, Jon Lewis, is now CEO of this company, and that one of USFWS’s principal delisting agents, Mountain-Prairie Regional Deputy Director, Matt Hogan, has so far refused to reveal the extent of his apparent ties to Anadarko Petroleum and Gas, the largest landholder and lease holder in Wyoming, has understandably led the Oglala Sioux Tribe to call for a Congressional investigation into the delisting process. Not only do questions exist about the influence of multinational energy companies on the delisting decision, but associations between high-ranking USFWS officials and trophy hunting giant, Safari Club International, exemplified by Mr. Hogan’s role as a former chief lobbyist to Capital Hill for Safari Club, require transparency, and we, therefore, request that the House Natural Resources Committee (Democrats) pursue this matter.


From - Piikani Nation Chief and Council Declaration, September 12, 2016


Sacred Yellowstone

The Piikani Nation has an ancient connection to Greater Yellowstone.

And our ancestors gave their lives to protect the sanctity of that land

Why a Congressional Investigation

has been called for

"Through information obtained via FOIA requests it is now apparent that the motivational factors behind both the delisting of the grizzly bear and the construction of the DAPL are closely aligned.”

Tipi with grizzly bear design
Blackfeet Indian boy
Baker-Doane Massacre Site
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