What if you were told that because you live within the boundaries of the Flathead reservation, the state of Montana has decided to treat you differently under its laws?
What if a non-elected board, appointed by state officials, decided to experiment with your rights by removing you and your family out from under the protections of the Montana constitution, not because of your color, religion, sex, age, or other demographic, but for no other reason than where you happen to live?
What if at least one of your county commissioners gives that idea their nod of approval?
These scenarios are playing out in front of our very eyes, via something called the Unitary Management Ordinance, part of the CSKT reserved water rights compact currently under consideration.
The “negotiators” say a local water management board is good, but the reality is that a politically appointed board, and a multitude of attorneys are working very hard to create another “political board” that will have a dramatic impact on all future water uses on the reservation. If passed into law, the ordinance will remove all residents within reservation boundaries, tribal and non-tribal, from their respective jurisdictions concerning their water rights. Yes, tribal members will have to submit to this new bureaucracy for their water needs too.
The very idea that an appointed board can arbitrarily choose to remove my constitutional protections, and at least one of my elected officials take no issue with it, tells me a whole lot about what is wrong with our country.
It’s enough to run a chill down the spine of anyone with enough sense to understand that once a precedent such as this is set, it becomes even easier to “experiment” more. What’s next after our water?
Why would the state of Montana even entertain the idea of relinquishing its responsibility to administer, control, and regulate water rights for Montana citizens living within reservation boundaries?
As we approach the November elections, this is a great question to ask all candidates. Find out where they stand on this, before this nightmare becomes a reality.
Don’t buy into their argument that this is a complicated issue, or that they are doing their best to incorporate Montana water code into the UMO. Removing people from state jurisdiction is removing them from state jurisdiction. This is no different that taking them out from under the protections of the constitution that all other Montanans enjoy.
The Unitary Management Ordinance is an unconstitutional solution to expedite a flawed compact upon which many are building their future plans. Montana legislators need to stand up and take notice of it. This ordinance is intended to be a means to diminish state sovereignty, and strengthen tribal sovereignty over non-tribal citizens on the reservation.
IT CANNOT BE TWEAKED, FIXED, OR IMPROVED TO MAKE IT MORE PALATABLE TO THE PUBLIC. INSTEAD, IT MUST BE KILLED, AND REPLACED WITH THE SAME SYSTEM IN PLACE FOR ALL OTHER MONTANA WATER COMPACTS.