© 2013 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
At the WPIC meeting on June 18, 2013, Compact Commission Chairman Chris Tweeten repeated once again that there was no need for negotiation because it is a fair compact and going back to the table would mean “attempting to extract significant further concessions from the tribe and there is no more left to give.”
Let’s set the record straight. The only people who have given concessions are the State of Montana through its out-of-control Compact Commission. Let’s see what the state gave up:
- The State gave up ownership of water and land on the reservation. The state conceded to the Tribes’ insistence that they own all the land on the reservation and all the water (reference definition in compact and quantification in Article III)
- The State gave up its own citizens to the Tribes. The State gave up its own authority to manage the water uses of 23,000 non-Indian residents of the reservation, via Tweeten’s “Grand Bargain”, where ‘we [the Commission] agreed to do this extraordinary thing, and that is to remove citizens out from underneath the protection of the State, and place them underneath a Unitary Water Management board at the request of the Tribes” (reference the Law of Administration or Unitary Management Ordinance)
- The State presided over a taking of water rights. The Compact Commission presided over and allowed the Tribes and the United States to take all of the water belonging to the irrigators who irrigate in the Flathead Irrigation Project. The Compact Commission disingenuously stated they had nothing to do with the water use agreement that allowed this theft yet Jon Metropolis, the Flathead Joint Board of Control’s attorney admitted yesterday that the Compact Commission had been involved in the drafting of the water use agreement. Yet the State continues to tax reservation non-Indian residents. (reference the FIP Water Use Agreement)
- The State gave up water rights off the reservation. Jay Weiner offered the CSKT rights to more than 30 million acre feet of water off-reservation for instream flow, claiming aboriginal rights to ‘take fish’ translated into a water right when there is sufficient legal evidence and precedent against that Compact, and despite the clear evidence that an off reservation aboriginal right is not the same as a ‘federal reserved water right’. Remember, this is the MT Reserved Rights Compact Commission, not the Montana Aboriginal Rights Compact Commission. (reference Article III of the compact and the multitude of water abstracts in the appendices)
- It is important to understand that the Compact Commission had no authority to do this; that the State Court would not likely have jurisdiction over the off-reservation aboriginal claims (they are resolved in a federal forum); and that the state performed no environmental or economic studies to gauge the impact of this give-away on the future growth or stability of western Montana
- The State delivers $55 million of taxpayer’s money to the CSKT. This fund does not cover in any regard the loss of state protection of its citizens, the loss of tax revenue, or the reduction in land values resulting from the Tribes owning and managing all the water.
Now let’s see what the Tribes’ concessions are:
- The Tribes agreed not to make a call on anyone else but irrigation throughout western Montana
- The CSKT agreed not to regulate or call irrigation wells that pump less than 100 gallons per minute
- The CSKT agreed not to pursue more water for fishing rights off the reservation.
Wow! What a deal! The CSKT get the whole store and Montanans get to pick up the garbage outside the door. And, Montanan’s get to pay for it too, both in State funds and Federal funds delivered to the Tribes, which could amount to over a billion dollars on top of the millions already spent on this reservation for the CSKT.
When you’ve been given everything, like what the State has offered the CSKT, why should you give up anything? Please remember that the Tribes have pursued this same plan for 12 years, there is nothing new. The only thing new is that the State caved when it didn’t have to.
We believe that the rush to pass this terrible compact has more to do with Chris Tweeten’s personal legacy, Jay Weiner’s career, and money for those willing to make a deal with the devil.
Oh, and by the way. If this passes, the state of Montana will be involved in the biggest class action suit in history over its willingness to give up on its citizens. It may also be time to consider bringing charges under the racketeering laws as the Compact Commission has engaged in a conspiracy to defraud its citizens.
We challenge the Tribes to make some real concessions and stop playing Montanans for fools.