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By Alex Ross 

Fort Belkap signs agreement with FEMA

 

January 23, 2017



The Fort Belknap Indian Community and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will sign an agreement Tuesday in which FEMA will pledge to offer the tribe assistance if historic properties or artifacts are damaged or displaced during a federally declared emergency.

Michael Black Wolf, director of the Fort Belknap Tribal Historic Preservation Office, said last Thursday that he along with Charles Bello, a FEMA representative, and Fort Belknap Indian Community President Mark Azure will sign the agreement Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the council chambers.

FEMA will also give a short presentation and refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public.

Black Wolf said the ceremony will mark the culmination of a year-and-a-half-long process between the tribe’s attorneys and FEMA in crafting and reviewing the proposed agreement.

The agreement offers the tribe assistance in re-interring, repairing or relocating historical properties or artifacts disturbed or damaged during a federally declared disaster.

FEMA’s website says that emergency declarations help state, local and tribal governments provide emergency services such as the protection of lives, property, public health and safety or to reduce the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the U.S.

Black Wolf said the agreement would cover historic properties that have and do not have specific cultural significance such as old homesteads and  burial sites.

The Chippewa Cree of Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation became the first federally recognized tribe to enter into such an agreement in 2011, after floods battered north-central Montana and unearthed artifacts on Rocky Boy, Black Wolf said.

He said the flooding inspired his office to pursue a similar agreement with FEMA. He said that prior to Tuesday’s Fort Belknap ceremony, only the Chippewa Cree, a tribe in California and another in South Dakota have had this type of agreement.

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