Setting the stage for the momentous actions that would alter the trajectory of Indian energy development, in particular, and tribal sovereignty, more generally, the Prologue describes the massive energy proposal the Consolidation Coal Company delivered to the Northern Cheyenne tribe in the summer of 1972. Although not a surprise to Northern Cheyenne leaders who had been working to secure this lucrative deal for some time, the offer placed the community in a precarious position. To reject it meant only more poverty, but many believed that accepting a project of these dimensions could threaten the continued existence of the tribe. In the end, tribal leaders would not make the decision on whether to accept Consolidation’s proposal, ordinary tribal members would. Launching a grassroots movement to protect the homeland, the Northern Cheyenne rejected the proposal, determined to develop their own minerals, and promised to alter Indians’ historic role as observers to the expropriation of tribal resources. The revolution in Indian energy development began in Lame Deer, Montana.
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