By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
The governments of Rocky Boy's and Fort Belknap Indian reservations are asking people across Montana to oppose an initiative that would restore cyanide heap-leach mining in the state.
The Fort Belknap Indian Community Council sent a letter to the governments of the other six Indian reservations in the state asking them to oppose I-147, which seeks to overturn an initiative passed in the 1990s that banned cyanide mining.
The Rocky Boy tribal council last week approved a resolution stating its opposiion to the initiative.
"We just wanted to let it be known that we have firm support for our fellow tribe over there," Rocky Boy council member Jonathan Windy Boy said today. "The devastation they have is tremendous."
Supporters of the initiative say technology allows the use of cyanide to extract minerals from ore without damaging the environment, and that the initiative includes strict regulations to protect the environment.
Opponents say the initiative includes no new environmental-protection provisions.
The tribal government at Fort Belknap has sued the state over its plan to clean up the Zortman-Landusky mines adjacent to the reservation's southern border, saying the state's plan will not adequately reduce the danger contaminated water at the cyanide heap-leach mine poses to the reservation.
Julie King Kulbeck, secretary treasurer of the Fort Belknap tribal council, said the council hopes its stance also persuades people outside of the reservations to oppose the initiative.