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Sovereignty For SurvivalAmerican Energy Development and Indian Self-Determination$
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James Robert Allison III

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300206692

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300206692.001.0001

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“The Most Important Tribe in America”

“The Most Important Tribe in America”

(p.73) 4 “The Most Important Tribe in America”
Sovereignty For Survival

James Robert Allison

Yale University Press

This chapter describes the grassroots movement that erupted on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation to resist non-Indian mining and change forever the trajectory of Indian energy development. As news of Consolidation Coal’s massive proposal spread, tribal members connected this project to regional plans being made for the Northern Plains and began to see coal mining as a final attack on the homeland. Opponents thus launched a passionate resistance movement, fueled partly by concerns over the physical destruction of sacred landscapes, but mostly driven by fears that mining would bring outsiders to disrupt existing customs and values. Becoming minorities in their own land, the Northern Cheyenne believed the tribe would cease to exist as a unique indigenous community.But to mobilize an effective fight for survival, tribal members needed help. This chapter thus describes the confluence of interests among Indians, ranchers, and environmentalists, who cooperated to foment resistance to coal mining in Southeast Montana. This odd partnership helped galvanize Northern Cheyenne against their leaders’ development plans, but importantly, most tribal members did not oppose all mining. The majority favored development as long as their tribal government could regulate its pace and scale so that customs and norms remained undisturbed.

Keywords:   North Central Power Study, Northern Cheyenne tribe, Native American Rights Fund, Colstrip, Northern Plains Resource Council, Northern Cheyenne Landowners Association, Bill Bryan, Marie Sanchez, Allen Rowland, Red Power Movement

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