The current draft proposal of the Stipulation Agreement for the irrigators on the Flathead Indian Reservation by the Flathead Joint Board of Control and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation seems to have been negotiated between six members of the FJBC and CSKT behind closed doors in an attempt to win irrigator support for the current iteration of the Reserved Water Rights Compact that has apparently been in the slow cooking crock pot for >10 years and is running out of time.

Releasing a 64 page document, written in short hand legalese, for public review and comment (which translated, means “irrigator review” – not the general public) on a web site with a two week review period, then extended for an add’l two weeks – ending on July 16th, (after the public discovered its existence and raised an uproar), does not illustrate transparency in any language.  An additional 2 week extension has been granted….1/3 of what we asked for.

This 3-legged milking stool (the Water Compact, the Tribes Unitary Management Board proposal and the Stipulation Agreement) leaves much to be desired.  A Stipulation Agreement, created in a vacuum, and Water Compact meetings held during public working hours, and on Indian owned property, have not been perceived, by the public in general, as neutral, honestly available or accomplished in good faith; the UMB, as currently conceived, is an extremely dangerous concept and totally inconsistent with ALL previous negotiated agreements with the other 6 reservations within Montana.

There has been more conspiracy to camouflage the elements of this compact and out right intimidation tactics employed than we believe is actually necessary; we’re left holding the bag and scratching our heads, looking for some simple rhyme or reason to it all.

We expect the negotiating team representing the State and non-tribal members of Montana, to achieve an honest, consistent and compatible Reserved Water Rights Compact for ALL citizens and residents concerned.  So far, it’s not been looking too good.  Saving this compact (of 7) for last and rushing it through the process, serves no one.  Selling us down the river, for expediency, will not be tolerated.  Efforts are currently underway to correct this error in strategy and course.