Oil drilling near Bear Butte?

Developers plan to drill oil wells next door to one of South Dakota’s most culturally sensitive landmarks.

Bear Butte has been for centuries a gathering place and religious shrine for Plains Indians. The proposed drilliing would take place 1.25 miles from the Butte.

The South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment approved an application Thursday from Nakota Energy to drill wells.

Bear Butte has been the center of controversies in the past over a proposed firearms-testing range and bars that cater to bikers during the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally and races. During those controversies, American Indians and others have tried to protect Bear Butte from encroaching development.

No one filed to intervene or attended the board meeting Thursday to speak against the oil field application.

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