The issues discussed throughout the pages of this blog arise from problems created or advanced by the Federal Government, the State of Montana, and the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes elite and their attorneys.  Not individual tribal members.

They also stem from the willingness of the state of Montana to cede its land and water resources, and its constitutionally mandated responsibilities and jurisdiction over water to the United States and CSKT tribal governments under the guise of an “Indian water settlement.”

This blog was established because our local traditional media stifle public discourse and debate on these very serious issues. They choose to ignore our precarious position by failing to seriously look into Federal Indian Policy run amok, refusing to print opinions and letters that differ from their own personal views, or worse yet, “censoring and revising” letters ahead of their publication.

Sadly, we all have lost the significant history of this very special place, and the actions of our respective governments have created the strife and divisiveness that now exists within our families and communities.

It is our sincerest hope that you find this website helpful in your journey to stay informed about the Flathead (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes) Water Compact.  It is brought to you by Concerned Citizens of Western Montana and is a collaborative effort.

We appreciate your opinions, concerns, comments, and suggestions.  You can reach us via the CONTACT page, or comment on any post or page.

Throughout the pages of this blog the use of the term tribe is intended to mean tribal government, not individual tribal people, many of whom are our friends and neighbors.

You can FOLLOW the blog by scrolling down the left side of this page and clicking on the gray FOLLOW button.  Just type in your email address and you will be notified each time a new post has been added.

Perhaps with the help of your eyes and others focusing on this problem, we can bring forth solutions for impactful and positive change concerning this most serious issue. Heaven knows our governments have not done so.


Montana is unique in its efforts to settle federal reserved water rights.  In 1979 the state legislature created a compact commission allowing for political appointments to a commission that was given the authority to negotiate federal reserved water rights settlements with the federal government and the various Indian tribes in the state.

At the time, the CSKT and the federal government fought this approach, arguing that the state could not adjudicate the tribe’s water rights fairly.  Little did anyone know then, they were almost correct, however it was non-Indian water rights and Constitutional protections that would ultimately be compromised by the state in their effort to settle with this tribe.

The current iteration of the Flathead Compact was completed in January 2015 and consists of roughly 1,500 pages with the appendices and maps.

All compacts were supposed to QUANTIFY the federal reserved water right for each federal reservation of land.  The Flathead Compact is the only Montana compact that does not provide a quantification of the amount of water necessary to fulfill the purpose of the reservation. 

Montana failed to provide this and other information to legislators or citizens because they knew that the compact would not have been ratified if legislators knew and understood what the State was willing to cede to just one of the seven tribes located within its borders.

When asked about the missing quantification, the state referred the public to the hundreds of water rights abstracts in the appendices to the compact.  We took up that challenge, and from our research, we estimate that between 28-48 million acre feet of water per year were ceded to the United States / CSKT in this compact.  This amount is four times greater than the volume of water awarded to all other tribes in the United States combined thus far.  It is also 145 times greater than the tribal average as noted on the chart below:

Note: Although we tried to participate in the legislative process through our state representatives and other elected officials, we were unaware that state, tribal and federal governments had already aligned to force its ratification through the Montana state legislature using whatever means necessary.  Governor Steve Bullock artfully orchestrated a simple majority coup within the Montana legislature to force their controversial, flawed and illegal legislation over the finish line.  By changing house rules they ensured a fraudulent simple majority cram down in the 2015 Montana legislature. 

As of March 2020, it has not yet been ratified by Congress or the Tribes, however Senator Steve Daines has introduced S.3019 into the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.  SB262 is the heart of the Daines’s Compact, and his support of it is a conscious decision on his part to support federal overreach, to the detriment of the people he is supposed to represent.

Why So Much Water for the CSKT?

It’s Built Upon Flawed Historical and Legal Assumptions

Keep in mind that the Flathead Indian Reservation is the only “open” reservation in Montana, opened by Presidential Proclamation in 1909, and 90% of the population is non-Indian.

Montana allowed the Flathead Compact to be predicated upon a flawed and legally incorrect definition of the reservation, paving the way for an expansive taking of water and jurisdiction over it within reservation boundaries.  In it, the Flathead Reservation is defined to include:  all land within the exterior boundaries of the Indian Reservation established under the July 16, 1855 Treaty of Hellgate, notwithstanding the issuance of any patent, and including rights-of-way running through the Reservation.”   

Both Indians and non-Indians that own and live on private fee land within the external boundaries of the former reservation should pay close attention to this definition, because it includes your property.

This flawed premise is used to rationalize giving all water running through and under the reservation to the CSKT tribal government, to the detriment of private land owners, and with little or no benefit to individual tribal members.

It Ignores History and Then Attempts to Rewrite It

Both the state and federal legislation for this compact ignores the fact that the United States opened the reservation to settlement in 1908, as articulated in Article VI of the Treaty of Hellgate.  The vast majority of people living within the boundaries of the former reservation today are NON-INDIAN.  Additionally, many CSKT tribal members carry a mere 25% blood quantum, making them essentially non-Indian,  but acceptable for the purpose of membership in the CSKT federally chartered tribal corporation.

The proposed compact also ignores other court ordered settlements with the tribe through the Indian Claims Commission and U.S. Court of Claims, that were related to the entirety of the tribe’s ceded lands.

The terms of those settlements preclude the tribe from going after any additional damages throughout their ceded territory.  In order to receive their settlement monies for these claims, the tribes signed a stipulation agreement in 1966 that specified:

“The judgment shall finally dispose of all claims or demands which petitioner has asserted or could have asserted in this case against defendant, and petitioner shall be barred from asserting all such claims or demands in any future action.”

It Creates “Tribal Reserved Water Rights” Out of Thin Air

In a carefully crafted sleight of hand, and smoke and mirrors talking points, the Compact Commission exceeded their authority by creating non-existent “tribal reserved water rights” with a time immemorial priority date  (Note: they were authorized by the legislature to negotiate “federal reserved water rights” that are strictly limited to the purposes of the reservation of land).

This was a transparent attempt to give the state legal cover for awarding vast amounts of water both on and off the reservation to the United States / CSKT with time immemorial priority dates.

Western States Beware

If this compact is ratified as written, one could reasonably conclude that all tribes in the United States will reopen their old claims to land and water, wreaking havoc throughout the west.

Additionally the compact sets dangerous precedent by awarding the federal government time immemorial water rights for every drop of water in Flathead Lake, and concedes significant instream flows with various priority dates throughout 11 counties in western Montana in the Clark Fork and Kootenai River basins.

There are 573 federally recognized tribes in the United States, and only 35 or so have settled their water claims.  What do you think will happen to water rights in the western states if Senator Daines awards all of the water in SB262 to them in his S.3019 water compact legislation?

During the Montana negotiation and legislative phases of seeking state ratification, state officials refused to complete any impact studies on their proposed settlement that would have helped the public and legislators understand its environmental, economic and legal impacts.

With no quantification or impact studies, in 2015 the Montana legislature essentially ratified a blank check to the federal government.

There is no question that this compact has far reaching implications for other western states many Indian tribes reside.


Thanks for checking us out, please share this site with others.



37 thoughts on “WELCOME”

  1. I know you’re all busy. Unlike our elected officials, their appointees and contracted “partners” you all have lives and jobs to tend to in addition to performing this important service. All on our own time and dime. However, flyers are going out and more and more people are showing concern and interest. Could someone please update this site?

  2. Jay Weiner met with the Granite County(GC) Commissars yesterday. He was blessed with the audience of two commissars, the haircut boy had a sick wife to attend to. I videoed the one sided discussion. However, there were some good points and questions made by Jim Dinsmore(one of the public of 3), wearer of a few GC hats involving the Clark Fork Basin and Flint Creek irrigaters. Hopefully I’ll get the video up on U Tube ASAP. I still get the impression that those who WILL be impacted by these negotiations and now that newly released Upper Clark Fork River Basin restoration draft still think they’ll be immune, using the local wink wink Good Ol Boys Club politics. Both these “plans” are like government’s Catch & Release. It catches us, releases some of us in its holding pen and the others… just…get…pan fried.

    • Thanks for the update on the Weiner visit. That boy is like teflon. We hope Dinsmore didn’t leave the meeting feeling all is right in GC….. You’re analogy is spot on.

  3. I hope that Talk Back will pod cast the show. Would be great to cross link it here

    • I don’t know what happened to my post. But you did an excellent job this AM on Talk Back! You didn’t hesitate once and addressed every question fully and with confidence. I think you generated a lot of interest and support. Yes you are NOT a lawyer and you are NOT from the government to help us. Two pluses for you. You are one of us, a resident tax paying Montana property owner with a nasty habit of being addicted to water. WE are the stakeholders! And Montana is supposed to protect US, ALL of us, against unauthorized unconstitutional Federal regulation of our rights.

  4. You were EXCELLENT on Talk Back this am. You shook them up and I’m sure you generated a lot of interest and support! I hate to sound greedy, but you should of had the full hour and half. You are NOT a lawyer and you are NOT from the government “to help us”. You, like the rest of us, is a concerned property owner taxpayer resident in MT. And the state is supposed to protect us ALL, against unconstitutional federal intrusion and extension of its limited authority. Thank you!

  5. Yvonne Clay said:

    Does it matter at all that the Flathead Indian Reservation is NOT CSKT’s aboriginal land? Any Anthropologist will tell you where their ABORIGINAL land is and it is not the Flathead Indian Reservation !!!!

    • Would be interested in any cites you can provide concerning your comment. We have a map of the aboriginal territory of the CSKT per the Dept of Interior Treaty Boundary map 1983 that shows the reservation as falling within their “ceded territory”. Any information you can provide contrary to that would be appreciated.

    • drkate said:

      Of course, the aboriginal territory extended far beyond the lands that were ‘reserved’ as the FIR. Interior maps and Tribal maps based on anthropological work show the vast area that was aboriginal and specifically ceded to the US. This is a much smaller area than the subsistence range.

      The federal reserved water rights of the Tribes do not exist off-reservation on aboriginal lands. A federal reserved water right applies only to the land so reserved. Off reservation on ceded aboriginal lands, the tribes retained the right to fish, hunt, and gather in common with the citizens of the territory. That the compact claims water off the reservation is improper because these are not reserved water rights.

  6. Karen Halter said:

    Here in Lake County the Round Butte Grange is having a Candidates Forum on May 30th at the Museum in Ronan at 7 p.m. Many candidates have already said they are coming. We need written questions to ask them by May 24th so we can give those questions to a narrator. Contact Darlene Salomon at 883-1130 or e-mail her at: drenter@centurytel.net. It would be a good time to find out all the candidate’s views on the water compact. I know I won’t vote for anyone who is for the compact no matter how they try to brainwash me.

  7. I think I know the answer to this, but want to be sure. Was the federal government involved in the ‘original’ treaty? Will they be involved in this one? Even if they are not directly involved, is there anything to prevent them from stepping in to take over when they SAY the Tribes are not managing it properly? Kinda like they stepped in on the land trust SE of here? Montanans beware, looks like this is about federal control.

  8. As an aside, but not really…can anyone direct me to the proper channels to ‘get’ your water rights on your own property in Lincoln and Flathead C

  9. It seems to me that the reservation is being treated like the sovereign here, that is by
    definition a state within a state; I seem to remember reading something about this in the constitution?

    • Excellent point.

      “New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.” Article IV, Section 3 Clause 1

      To complicate things further, the EPA has given the CSKT “treatment as state” status with respect to water quality. Just exactly when will that shoe drop? Oh yes, if this compact were to be ratified and the tribe has been given essentially all the water. The implications of all of this to state control and jurisdiction are quite sobering.

  10. As recently as in this last week Monday January 19 there has been a strong media push via local radio “pro” water compact. It is in our best interest to equal the playing field with similar tactics along with an updated website. Any information of what happened last week in the courts would be nice to see where “we” are in this point. Thanks for providing a platform! Let me know how I can help!

  11. Walter Morris said:

    I am also a water user having a decreed water right with an 1865 filing date. I have been told that the DNRC was going to take my water right and give it to someone else. I was told that our new State Constitution dealt with this matter and was very plain about the principal, first in time first in right. It seems that the system now is being handle totally contrary to this constitution?

  12. tvfmontana said:

    In case you missed this. I did notice that a number of regular TalkBack listener/callers are now paying attention to this compact. Where B4 they ignored the discussion thinking the compact only affected those residing on the res.

    The CSKT discussion starts at the 24:00 point.

    SOTU discussion with Ryan Zinke, then CSKT water compact with attorney Melissa Hornbein – YouTube

  13. anyone trusting/believing ANYTHING the Federal Government controls, is completely
    naive!! Sorta like “if you like your doctor you can keep him/her”!!
    Indian water rights will NOT be protected; the Feds can do as they wish!!
    States need to oversee water that is THEIRS (ours).

  14. Hey great website and thanks for all the effort in helping folks see thru all the smoke and mirrors on this subject..
    Having been a part of the Lincoln Country Central Committee, we have been battling this Compact for many years. Steve Curtis is very familiar with the statistic that are being used and what the real motivations are, Power plain and simple for the FEDs and a way to get the White-man off the RES and turn it back to RED as half the land they sold off. The lands have been developed and are productive now, irrigation systems are in place because the Ranchers developed it Red and White. Giving away control of
    It is a shame that some of the Legislators don’t seem to get it and are willing to sell us out, and allow over 20,000 Montanans Constitutional Rights to be placed under Tribal Jurisdiction controlled by the FEDs. Turning over Flathead Lake to the tribe would kill property values the same way it has on the RES.
    Make no joke about it, folks are Ornery already and this may just be the straw that breaks the camels back in Montana, where this will go is anybody’s guess. I say this because this thing is like standing in front of a freight train waving a flag yelling stop. Those that stand in the way of it are getting run over and no one has applied any breaks yet.

  15. The water compacts are just a part of the move for the Federal government to take control of every drop of water in the United States. It comes down from the United Nations and is part of the move to put us under a world government that has been in the works for many many years. If you really want to understand what is going on in your world please contact Michael S. Coffman from Bangor Maine who is Pres. of Environmental Perspectives, Inc. If we could get him to Montana to speak before the Legislature it would kill the Water Compact bill. Somebody younger and with more energy than I needs to take up this project. Your children and all generations to come will thank you. This is very serious! Please every one of you..take up this cause/. The water compact if signed is forever and cannot be changed later.

    • Yes, I agree it’s a fed water grab, plain and simple. Plus, it’s obvious if they can’t get it this way they will declare the Bull Trout as endangered and put a real stranglehold on our use. Keep the control in Montana. As far as CSKT having control, it’s by proxy of the feds only. And they will be set up to fail.
      I was watching the video of the informational meeting held a while back. The guy from the AG office said at one point he was proud of being considered hard-core-right wing and later said that he really wanted the federal government to have the control.
      I’ve been going through the video with a fine tooth comb, and plan to do the same with the accompanying documents. That is, if I can get a copy from Chad Vincent. That with the video from the hearing Monday will give me all the arguments with the words straight from the mouths of the players. this will be compiled into a letter with footnotes and references and possible an audio story. Will find a way to post or link when it’s done.
      Thank you to every one of you who remains involved.

  16. Walter Morris said:

    Great replies, I am trying to save our decreed water rights in Basin 41B. It seems that the DNRC has decided that they can cast doubt on the actual use of water in certain years by the water right holders. They have filed preliminary decrees with reduced allotments to the filed and decreed water rights, most with a priority date before 1900. Wait, these rights are subject to a previous water right by the Indians as they have a right to harvest fish in all streams in Montana. Alas, as soon as the CSKT is passed the DNRC and five people on an appointed board will have fooled the Montana Legislature into passing a law giving the Indian Tribes an in stream Flow Right, with a flow rate exceeding any known flow of all streams in Montana with a priority date Immemorial or in perpetuity Thus the DNRC has done the job that they say the legislature authorized them to do. The only possible solution to this impending disaster is for the Legislature to defeat SB 262 and fire the agency that has defied the intent of our new constitution. How does the DNRC justify their taking of these filed and decreed water rights away from the irrigators at the same time that they argue the need to give time immemorial water rights to somebody that has never used or laid clam to these waters with the reasoning that a treaty written in 1855 gives them a promise of water for their needs to take care of the lands that they hold title to in the reservation. with a promise to allow them to harvest fish in their ancient aboriginal territory, with assumed history. The DNRC is making rules and applying inverse facts to justify their takings. I would gladly accept the only actual agreement placed into evidence of a prior agreement giving the Indians an in stream water right dated 2007. If SB 262 passes, the legislature is laying waste to all of Montana as we presently see it. Least I forget, everywhere I go I see ads saying how good this compact is for me, please explain the actual reasoning behind this statement. I will not accept the reasoning that Mr. Peterson and Mr, Grosfield say it is good for everybody, please come up with the facts.

  17. You shoulԁ be ɑ part of а contest foг one of the most սseful blogs on the web.
    I am ǥoing to recommend this website!

  18. Ron Smith said:

    It seems to me that if they ignored the law then they broke the law. So how can they be brought up on charges or removed from office for failure to obey the law?

    • A good question and focus. Recall comes to mind, but it is difficult in MT as legislature diluted that referendum. Of course, the other way is to make sure they are not re-elected and that anyone running on the banner of the compact or on this “cooperation bipartisanship’ stuff should not be considered for office…

    • tvfmontana said:

      That’s why these people think they’re above the law. None are accountable for their actions. We’ll show them and vote them out! Happens not too often. We’ll just get a RINO or they run for another office. Maybe someone should, for the record, go through the petition process for recall. That should at least shine light on the “criminal roach” . Just a thought

  19. Larry Leonard said:

    This is all confusing. But the way I understand it the Compact will give the tribes jurisdiction over all the water flowing in or out of Flathead lake, including Flathead Lake Water. Since reservations are controlled by the federal government, then the Feds control this water. Montana control is gone. Then what? Does this set a precedent allowing Federal control over all Montana waters?

    • drkate said:

      This compact does give the federal government control over nearly all of the water in western MT…the “water rights abstracts” are all in the name of the United STates “in trust for the Tribes”. The Tribes claim all of Flathead Lake in the compact and 90,000 AF of Hungry Horse. The Tribes have jurisdiction over that Hungry Horse water, and will basically control/administer all the water on the reservation through the “unitary management ordinance”. The Tribes also claimed water rights in eastern Montana. Yes, with the federal government as the owner, this compact greatly diminishes Montana and expands federal jurisdiction over MT water. The state threw its citizens under the bus. This is the reason we will continue to fight this egregious, overreaching compact!

      • Larry Leonard said:

        I hate to bother you but what can people do to protest/help or is this a done deal? Thanks.

  20. Walter Morris said:

    Larry Leonard, I don’t know who you are or where you live, bu it seems to me that at this point all we can do is get the truth out as I am finding out that the campaign by the “Grassroots organization, FARM,” has done an excellent job of brainwashing the Montana Citizens. The proponents of this sham have done an excellent job of hiding the facts of what this Compact does from almost all Montanans. I went to two candidate forums and one of our local RINOs answered a question about the plan to convert Federal Lands to State Lands and his reply exposed his actual reasoning for supporting our Governor in his plan to cede control of all water in Montana to the Federal Government. It seems to me that the voters need to know who these RINOs are and exactly what their plan is. I see that their are a large group of them running for both the House and Senate all across Montana. Sadly I must admit that two of them are from my District and one of them is running for the Seat held prior by D

  21. Looks like Kelo case for water.
    Check kelo v New London.

  22. Robert Sivertsen - Havre Mt said:

    Let us not forget – * Tim Fox, Mt Stock Growers, Farm Bureau & MFU colluded
    with the Fed’s to push CSKT thru the 2015 Legislature.
    * Remember, Greg Gianforte has waivered on the Daines CSKT, but we all know he is in support. * Lest we forget, Dianes, Gianforte, Fox, Tester and Bullock have been
    bought the Confederated Salish Kootani Tribe as well as other Tribes. (I can’t elaborate here) * Montanan’s neeed to step up and defend the states Constitution.

  23. Haye to say it, but we’re all been done throw under the bus with this deal. On a separate note, has anyone heard of Nebraska vs. parker suit, we fee owners may have bigger problems coming.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s