The Valley of the Chiefs - Weatherman Draw

Valley of the Chiefs - Weatherman Draw Montana

Eastern Montana has a rich array of archaeological resources - stratified cave deposits, buffalo jump sites, tipi ring sites, stone quarry sites, wickiup sites, and a large number of pictograph and petroglyph sites, like those found in Weatherman Draw or Valley of the Chiefs. Tribes, like the Crow and the Shoshone left paintings of large and colorful shields on the rocks - perhaps symbols of powerful warriors- for other tribes to see. Various Native Americans Tribes consider Weatherman Draw a sacred place.

3 Shields Pictograph Photo
Two pictographs of shields
at Weatherman Draw
This small valley, known as Weatherman Draw to the BLM, is the center of a battle between an oil billionaire -- who sees the potential to drill for 10 million barrels of oil -- and Native American tribes and environmentalists, who want the place saved forever.

Dozens of plains tribes, including the Crow, Comanche, Sioux, and Blackfeet, have historic and contemporary connections to the Valley of the Chiefs. The area is used to this very day for vision quests and prayer ceremonies. In this valley, spiritual drawings one thousand years old testify to the cultural, spiritual and intertribal significance of this precious place.

But all of this is threatened today. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decided to allow the oil company, Anschutz Exploration Corporation, to proceed with drilling even though the agency's own decision-makers have designated Weatherman Draw an "Area of Critical Environmental Concern." Anschutz Exploration Company, owned by Philip Anschutz, are poised to drill for oil in the valley. Philip Anschutz and his oil company want to build a big road, bring thousands of tons of heavy equipment in and fill a place of peace and solitude with dust, noise and fumes. Once they enter the area, the special qualities of this place will be altered forever. Not only that, but the sacred drawings on the rock walls will likely be vandalized. Already, the drawings that are located near existing roads have been ruined by careless people who, unaware of their power and importance, draw over them or chip their own names over their rock faces.

3 Shields Pictograph Photo
Three rare polychromatic figures
with shields in the Valley of the Chiefs
The Sierra Club and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have joined with Native Tribes to stop the drilling. The coalition has also appealed to the government agency that acts as landlord in the valley -- the Bureau of Land Management. But the agency has ignored our pleas.

This powerful coalition has appeared before Government officials to insist that the drilling never goes forward. In June, Tribal leaders and Sierra Club staff and members traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with our representatives. Allies in Congress have joined our fight. Congressman Nick Joe Rahall (D-WV) introduced, HR 2085, "Valley of Chiefs Native American Sacred Site Preservation Act of 2001,"a bill that would stop oil production in the Valley of the Chiefs.

Permanent protection for Weatherman Draw has not yet been achieved. By working closely in partnership with various Native American Tribes and the public, we will prevent drilling in Valley of the Chiefs and preserve this amazing place for future generations.

Legislative Alert

You can act today to help save the Valley of the Chiefs! Even if you live miles from Southeastern Montana, where the plains meet the mountains, your voice is needed in our campaign to keep a sacred place off limits to oil production.

The legislation, HR 2085, "Valley of Cheifs Native American Sacred Site Preservation Act of 2001" must have the support of more members of Congress. We need to show the force behind our coalition by getting more members of the House of Representatives to sign on to the bill.

Remember that one of the members of the House of Representatives answers to you! You must contact that Representative today and ask him or her to cospon sor HR 2085. Say that this bill will protect the Valley of the Chiefs from oil production. Tell them to call Nick Rahall's office to sign on. And then followup with a call a week later to make sure.

You can start by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202/224-3121. The switchboard can put you through to your own Representatives office.

*** Please Act Today ***

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