Dear Senator Fielder,
The Fed is broke yet they just announced the new agreement with the CSKT funding the acquisition of private property within the tribal boundaries at the cost to the tax payers. I can just about guarantee that the acquisitions will not end once the land inside the reservation ends as our valley was referred to by CSKT representatives in our commission meeting room as the Bitterroot Reservation! They have acquired two properties on the river thus far and identified up to 7 sites of religious import. I have no issue with the tribe nor their religious beliefs. What concerns me is that the Federal government is expending tax dollars to the tribes to purchase land off reservation along with water our state giving the tribes water rights off reservation via the USFS. Seeing what happened in Wyoming brings up many concerns on how these actions in our state could escalate into a similar situation.
We must at least consider following Oklahoma and Wyoming (think Wind River Reservation and Riverton, WY) and use Jurisdiction and whatever other appropriate legal options to protect the State of Montana from more Federal control over private property. Once the tribes transfer “their” land into the “protection” of the BIA in Trust we know who will drive the bus moving forward.
I know that you, Representative Ballance and others have more knowledge regarding this than anyone else in the state and I applaud you in your ongoing efforts to educated our public and to move forward in the legislature to come up with real solutions. The CSKT Compact is just one stepping stone, as written today, towards the end of private property rights and most importantly our water rights as the Sovereign State of Montana.
Thank you for your courage and commitment to our state,
Ravalli County Commissioner
215 So. 4th Street, Suite A
Hamilton, MT 59840