On June 17, 1876, Cheyenne and Lakota warriors rode out from camp to stop the attack from Colonel Crook setting the stage for the defeat of General George Custer at the Battle on the Little Bighorn, one week later. On October 29, 2008, hundreds gathered in Lame Deer, MT on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation to celebrate this major event. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe along with NWF’s Tribal Lands Program, National Park Service, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Governor Brian Schweitzer, and the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe hosted the gathering to celebrate the culmination of everyone’s efforts.
This was the result of 17 years of dedicated work by Northern Cheyenne tribal members, Steve Brady and Otto Braided Hair. Rosebud and Wolf Mountain Battlefields are not only culturally significant but are situated on the spectacular headwaters of Rosebud Creek with dry, rolling prairies, low hills, ridges, drainages, arroyos and ravines. The area remains almost exactly how it looked centuries ago with pristine native prairie, flora and fauna.
NWF’s Tribal Lands Program assisted the Northern Cheyenne in securing this designation to help preserve the site for all Americans and protect it from coal-bed methane (CBM) development. Because FWP only owns the surface rights of the property, the battlefield could be developed for coal bed methane by private interests who own or lease mineral rights. Trucks, generators, compressor stations, pipelines, roads, noise, wastewater, and dust could envelop the historic battlefield.
Pinnacle Gas owns the mineral leases underneath the site and intends to punch wells unless a mineral trade can be secured. This NHL status helps raise the awareness and puts another layer of public scrutiny on the site to protect it from energy development.
The Northern Cheyenne Tribe is working hard to protect their land, people, wildlife and water from irresponsible energy development in the Powder River Basin. The region is facing many threats including massive CBM development, Coal-to-Liquid plant proposals, a new railroad to haul coal, a bomber test range and expansion and proposals of new coal mines.
The NHL status of the Rosebud and Wolf Mountain Battlefields will help bring awareness to a region that gets little attention. The Powder River Basin is quickly becoming a National Sacrifice Area.