Montana Public Radio

Flathead Water Rights Compact

Gubernatorial debates get testy as the primary gets closer. The race for attorney general features four experienced candidates. House Republican candidate Matt Rosendale emphasizes familiar themes in a new campaign ad. Democrat Kathleen Williams is the fundraising leader in the House race. And how former Congressman Ron Marlenee left a lasting mark on Montana's Republican politics

Listen now on Campaign Beat, with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

A Montana case before the U.S. Supreme Court could have far-reaching implications for public education funding and the debate over the separation of church and state. Two candidates in the U.S. House race — one Democrat and one Republican — are running away from the pack in fundraising. A controversial tribal water compact could become an issue in the governor's race. And the three Republican candidates for governor square off in their first debate. Listen now on Campaign Beat.

State Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Albert Olszewski.
Montana Legislature

Opponents of a major Indian water rights settlement in Montana are calling on U.S. Sen. Steve Daines to withdraw it from Congress. But attorneys say some of the claims made by the conservative group from the Flathead Valley are false. 

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

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes would manage the National Bison Range in exchange for concessions on water rights, according to draft legislation Montana Sen. Steve Daines is expected to introduce in Congress. 

Bison at the National Bison Range.
USFWS

A bill proposing to settle long disputed water rights claims between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the federal government includes a massive new bargaining chip: transferring the National Bison Range to control of the tribes. U.S. Senator Steve Daines is expected to introduce a bill to do that as early as this week.

Watering a field.
iStock

Montana Senator Steve Daines and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes announced Thursday that they have come to a new agreement that would settle thousands of the tribes’ water rights claims.

Daines says he will introduce legislation next week that, if approved by Congress, will bring more than a decade of negotiation over the tribes’ water rights to an end. Daines was not available for an interview, but provided this recorded comment.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Water Compact narrowly passed the state Legislature in 2015 after more than a decade of negotiation. It settles water rights in and around the Flathead Reservation.
David Wiley (CC-BY-2)

Two top officials in the Trump Administration offered support for one of the state’s final remaining tribal water agreements last week.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Water Compact narrowly passed the state Legislature in 2015 after more than a decade of negotiation. It settles water rights in and around the Flathead Reservation. Now, it needs to pass in the U.S. Congress.

Kate Vandemoer presents on the “People’s Compact,” a proposed alternative to the CSKT Water Compact in Kalispell on Dec. 10, 2018.
Nicky Ouellet / MTPR

Supporters of an alternative proposal to settle water rights claims on and around the Flathead Reservation have released a framework for what they would like to see in federal legislation. Meanwhile, their proposal is drawing condemnation and curiosity across the state.

Carl Glimm (R, HD6) voices support for the People's Compact as Albert Olszewski (R, SD6), Keith Regier (R, SD3), Mark Noland (R, HD10) and Mark Blasdel (R, SD4) look on in Polson on November 27.
Nicky Ouellet / MTPR

A group of self-described concerned citizens are proposing an alternative to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Water Compact to settle water rights claims on and around the Flathead Reservation.

The state Legislature narrowly passed the CSKT Compact in 2015. It now awaits federal ratification.

Without a compact, some 10,000 tribal water claims extending farther east than Billings would need to be adjudicated individually.

Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy (D), HD-32.
Mike Albans

  

Montanans elected nine Native Americans to the state Legislature Tuesday. That’s the same as last session in 2017.

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