Phil Anschutz is an unlikely hero for Native Americans and environmentalists. One of the richest people in the country and a mega-donor to the Republican Party, Anschutz made his fortune in oil before launching Qwest Communications. Last year, his oil company, Anschutz Exploration, won permission from the Bureau of Land Management to drill in Montana’s Weatherman Draw southwest of Billings. The area, which may contain 10 million barrels of oil, is sacred to the Crow and other neighboring tribes and home to some of the most renowned Native American rock paintings in the West. On Tuesday, Anschutz, who said he was unaware of the site’s significance when he first bought the drilling rights, handed over his hard-won oil leases to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The trust will hold the leases to prevent drilling and work with the BLM to permanently protect the land.

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