© 2013 Concerened Citizens of Western Montana

Here’s an interesting bit of information.  In our travels around the western part of the state, we’ve been hearing concerns about tribal land acquisitions, and the negative impact it has on the property tax rolls.  A good friend from Libby forwarded the following article from the Kootenai Valley Record Newspaper on Tuesday March 19,2013:

The United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Flathead Agency has informed the Lincoln County Commissioners via certified mail that they have decided to acquire property in trust for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes along the Kootenai Falls.  Julian C. Ourville, Superintendent of the Flathead Agency and the author of the letter, also sent a certified letter to Governor Steve Bullock.  Presently the property, about 8.3 acres, is used for Fish and Wildlife Habitat Mitigation, and the letter states that land will continue to function as such.  The acquisition in trust comes with any and all water and water rights. Courville states in the letter that, as the land is to be used for fish and wildlife habitat mitigation, ” there will be no zoning or land use conflict.”  As mentioned in the letter the County Commissioners have 30 days to respond to the letter.

The letter also cites the following statutory authority:

1) 151 .10 (a) STATUTE: Section 5 of the Indian Reorganization Act of June 18, 1934 (48 Stat. 984;25 U.S.C.§465) authorizes the BIA to take this action on your behalf.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is authorized for this action pursuant to 25 CFR 151 .3(a) when it states “Subject to the provisions contained in the acts of Congress which authorizes land acquisitions land may be acquired for a tribe in trust status (1) when the property is located within the exterior boundaries of the tribe’s reservation, or adjacent thereto, or within a tribal consolidation area: or (3) When the Secretary determines that the acquisition of the land is necessary to facilitate tribal self determination, economic development, or Indian housing.  This acquisition is authorized by law, stated above, the applicant is the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation and the subject tract lies outside the exterior boundaries of the Flathead Reservation, as shown in the administrative file.

2) 151 .10(b) NEED: This land is needed to fulfill your goal of Reservation Land Consolidation, and in pursuit of tribal self-determination by expanding your land base.  Also, this fulfills the BIA policy because it is outside the boundaries of the reservation. “

Please reference the actual letters at the links below.  How many other acquistitions are going on in western Montana, and what in the heck is RESERVATION LAND CONSOLIDATION off the reservation?

We wonder, is the tribe expanding its reservation boundaries with these acquisitions?

Department of Interior Letter to Lincoln County Commissioners:

Response from Lincoln County Commissioners to Department of Interior: