National Geographic : 1976 Jul
of different tribes from sixteen states. Principal topic at last year's powwow: how best to control for Indian benefit the billions of tons of coal underlying tribal lands. issue a construction permit? President Ford requests a lowering of certain of the act's air quality standards. Congress is debating. (Several months later, two of the three power companies backing the Kaiparowits project dropped their plans; the third still hoped to go forward eventually.) Back in Montana, near Hardin, it's time for the annual fair on the Crow Reservation (above). I see visitors of many tribes, lots of feathers and beads, kids riding bareback amid pickup trucks and tepees, drumming, chanting, dancing, politicking. In a trailer, the Shell Oil Company shows a movie-how Earth Mother put down coal for her children, who can now benefit with This Land of Ours-How Are We Using It? income and jobs. Shell people say they'll reclaim all the land they strip, it'll be nice. They offer free soft drinks. A young Crow tells me the tribe signed a coal lease with Shell at 171/2 cents a ton, but they've been ripped off, the tribe should make at least ten times that. Shell says they now offer more. But the Crows say they are still going to court, to try to break the lease. I meet the chairman of the Tribal Council. "Once we mess up our land," he says, "we have no more. We're not like white people who just move on. We want to work out some thing reasonable, but we must first set up a land-use zoning code, and a strip-mining and reclamation code."