The Battle of Killdeer Mountain was a conflict between the US military and Sioux tribes in western North Dakota. It’s a fairly significant historical event, and there is a great deal of information and artifacts already collected from it.
But here’s the thing: Today the Kildeer Mountain battlefield, much of which is privately owned, sits atop major oil reserves. Environmentalists don’t want those reserves developed. The land owners want to cash in on the mineral rights they own.
SB2341 would have appropriated $250,000 for a survey by the State Historical Society looking for new artifacts. The obvious intent was to make some discovery that would derail efforts for oil/gas development. In the state Senate, however, the bill’s appropriation was slashed down to under $5,000 and the bill was ultimately defeated today by a 16 – 31 vote.
In other words, the land owners won this debate. Which is as it should be.
The challenge in preserving the history of Native American villages and battle fields and sacred ground is that you can’t throw a stone in North Dakota without hitting some place where a village was. Or a battle. Or some sacred ground.
Maybe that’s exaggerating things, but it can get pretty ridiculous. There comes a point where you really have to question the value of roadblocking development of certain land just because, a couple of hundred years ago, there was some skirmish there. What’s driving a lot of this obstruction are small groups of vocal activists. It’s worth keeping in mind that the ridiculous grand jury petition to indict Governor Jack Dalrymple for bribery for approving some of these areas for oil development originated in Dunn County which is also home to Killdeer Mountain.
The Battle of Killdeer Mountain is well-documented in our history books. With some prudent regulation, the land where the battle took place can be developed responsibly. What we don’t need is to stop land owners from profiting from their land on the off chance some trivial artifact might be found there.