Montana Public Radio

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

Fireline Episode 04: The Gift Of Fire

Mar 30, 2021
Fireline Episode 04: The Gift Of Fire
Jessy Stevenson

For millennia, wildfire was part of life in North America. Indigenous people used it for tradition and ceremony, to improve the health of ecosystems, and to assist with hunting and gathering. But the arrival of white settlers marked the beginning of an era in which that knowledge about fire and its role on the landscape was suppressed. Now, Indigenous groups across the country are working to revive tribal relationships with fire. Today, hear one story about bringing fire back to the land on the Flathead Reservation in Northwest Montana.

NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

An estimated 6,000 people spent their lunch hour with Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, headlined a noontime online lecture [full audio] hosted by the University of Montana’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center.

The Capitol dome in Helena, MT.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Montana lawmakers are again considering a bill that would repeal an exemption on some property taxes for tribes in Montana. The policy failed last session.

Gale Decker, a commissioner for Lake County, says a 2011 law is giving tribes in Montana an unnecessary tax break.

An informational sign at the entrance of the National Bison Range near Moiese, MT.
Josh Burnham

The U.S. Interior Department Friday signed an order that will start the transfer of the National Bison Range to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Labels on the back of CSKT servers name the locations of four cellular towers on that are broadcasting high-speed internet over roughly 1,300 square miles on the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

The build-out of wireless broadband networks in Indian Country may get a boost from a new $1 billion tribal broadband fund. The federal fund was set up by the latest COVID relief bill late last year.

David Wiley (CC-BY-2)

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Tuesday officially ratified a water rights compact with the state and federal government. This begins the process of implementing the $1.9 billion settlement.



David Wiley (CC-BY-2)

After more than a decade of negotiation, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes water compact passed through Congress late Monday evening. 


The Montana Water Rights Protection Act passed on the coattails of the larger COVID relief and federal omnibus spending bill. The bill now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk. 




Of the 179 missing persons in Montana, 29 percent are Native American. Montana’s Missing Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Task Force met Thursday for an update and to elect a new presiding officer.

At the task force meeting, presiding officer and state Deputy Attorney General Melissa Schlichting announced she was leaving the position to start a new job with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Helena.

The MMIP Task Force voted unanimously to appoint Ellie Bundy, a task force member and tribal council member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, as new presiding officer.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are participating in a national pilot project to improve coordination between agencies investigating missing and murdered Indigenous persons cases.

The U.S. Department of Justice recently developed protocols for federal, tribal and state law enforcement to work together more efficiently, which the CSKT will adapt into a Tribal Community Response plan that’s specific to the Flathead.

Craige Couture, the CSKT police chief, says this plan will help when investigations cross jurisdictional lines.

About three quarters of Montanans have broadband access. But that access is less prevalent in rural parts of Montana, which are home to the state’s seven Indian reservations. Federal coronavirus relief funding is helping some tribes to build their own wireless broadband networks, shrinking the stark digital divide on reservations.