US cancels energy leases in sacred area

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. officials say they’ve cancelled 15 oil and gas leases in an area bordering Glacier National Park that’s considered sacred to the Blackfoot tribes of the U.S. and Canada.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the move to be announced Wednesday would preserve northwest Montana’s 130,000-acre Badger-Two Medicine area.

Details were obtained in advance by The Associated Press.

The Badger-Two Medicine is the site of the creation story for members of Montana’s Blackfeet Nation and the Blackfoot tribes of Canada.

The leases were issued in the 1980s and held by Oklahoma-based Devon Energy. No drilling has occurred.

The cancellation comes amid sometimes-violent protests over an oil pipeline being built near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. The Obama administration has been criticized by some American Indians for its handling of that dispute.