©2014 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana

Ever heard of a Hail Mary pass?

As is widely known, the CSKT recently filed a lawsuit in federal court which is a blatant attack on Montana and attempt to scare people into signing the Compact.  There is a big problem with this tactic however, because the language of the lawsuit reflects 100% the language and contents of the Compact.

What?  Take a look:

In the Compact, the Tribes:

  • claim  that they own all the water and land on the reservation,
  • claim that they, as owners of water, have the right to manage all water rights, including state-based water rights
  • Claim that they own the Flathead Irrigation Project, and all the water used by the irrigators
  • Claim that state law is irrelevant to the administration, management and control of water

That these sentiments exist and are implemented in the Compact have been proven in several articles in this blog, by newspaper articles quoting the Tribes themselves,  and by the language of the Compact itself.  These statements were ‘buried’ in 1,400 pages of compact documents and covered up by fancy legal terms and public workshops that denied any of these claims were true.

Once the compact commission conceded these points to the Tribe, they spent the better part of the last several years attempting to rationalize their capitulation with talking points, expansive definitions of the treaty, and sleight of hand through omissions of important information.

Concerned Citizens has been pointing out and raising the alarm for nearly two years that the Compact confers the ownership of all water on the reservation to the CSKT/Federal government.  It also attempts to redefine the reservation to include private land that is taxed by the state in an effort to further the Tribe’s agenda to have complete jurisdiction over all residents within its exterior boundaries.

In the recently filed lawsuit, the Tribes:

  • claim  that they own all the water and land on the reservation,
  • claim that they as owners of water have the right to manage all water rights, including state-based water rights
  • Claim that they own the Flathead Irrigation Project and all the water used by it
  • Claim that state law is irrelevant to the administration, management and control of water–here they view the State District Court and State Water Court as irrelevant to the quantification of their water rights

It is important to note that the elements of the Tribes’ lawsuit attempt to rewrite the history of the reservation, ignore existing legal precedent at the Montana and United States Supreme Court levels that require the Tribes to go through the state adjudication process, present unrealistic legal goals upon which there is little or  no merit, and attempt to re-litigate settled law.

The Tribes had a chance to resolve their rights in negotiation with the Compact Commission, but their demands–i.e., ownership of everything failed to win public and legislative support.  And the Compact Commission was not successful in bamboozling the public. So the CKST sued, claiming ownership of everything.

What is the difference between the lawsuit and the Compact?  Nothing.

The lawsuit tells you directly what their viewpoint is, whereas the Compact hides these facts under difficult to understand legalese.  So, notice that if you sign onto the Compact, what you are getting is exactly what they say in the lawsuit.

This is a blatant attempt to scare people into “falling in line” with the Compact.  The State of Montana has no choice but to step in and fight for its citizens, the integrity of state jurisdiction and state institutions, and the rule of law.  Reckless behavior by any party, including a Tribe who is bound by treaty to cease hostility, and by existing federal Indian law which constrains them, will not stand.

Sadly, and despite pronouncements to the contrary, there has been nothing “honest” or “in good faith” about this Compact negotiation.  The Tribes have just proven it by attempting to force–by fear–everyone into submission.

Stay tuned, as there is much more to come on the strategies that are in place and will be used to stop this aggression.

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