The march represents an unusual coalition of ranchers and seven Montana tribes. Their aim is stopping businessman Ernest Lehman from developing his mining claims on public land in north-central Montana. The tribes want the hills protected because they have been a source of visions and sacred ceremonial songs; the ranchers fear that cyanide used to leach gold will contaminate the water table (HCN, 8/9/93).
The coalition persuaded the Bureau of Land Management to issue a new management plan this April; it prohibits new mining claims on all 19,000 acres of public land in the Sweet Grass Hills. Although Lehman can mine his existing claims once a two-year mining moratorium ends in 1997, the coalition is considering legal challenges and is working to elect a sympathetic congressional representative this November.
* Emily Cousins