Oil company vs Indians: Flathead Reservation has been there before
Every day, a line of gray tank cars rolls between Missoula and Thompson Falls – reminders of another time an oil company got in a fight with Indian tribes over a pipeline.
With international attention focusing on the Standing Rock Sioux’s protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes fought and won a similar battle with Yellowstone Pipeline Co. (YPL) in 1995.
A 10,000-gallon gasoline leak at Camas Creek near Hot Springs in 1993 put YPL in a difficult negotiating position just as its 20-year permit to cross the Flathead Indian Reservation was up for renewal. Then-Tribal Chairman Mickey Pablo said the Tribal Council “was being extra careful” about a new deal in light of at least three serious spills on the reservation from the 40-year-old pipeline.