© 2015 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
Yesterday a few dozen people from western Montana visited Helena to talk to legislators about why they should oppose the CSKT water compact. Believe it or not, one of the opponents to the compact was actually called a “snake oil salesman” by an attorney and representative of the Montana Attorney Generals office.
Statements such as this, and the willingness of the attorney general himself to spend all of his political capital on this water compact, should make people wonder what in the world is really going on behind the scenes and why Montana is willingly throwing its citizens under the bus.
With that in mind, we have a few questions to consider.
Whatever happened to Jay Weiner?
Does he still work in the Attorney General’s Office, and is he responsible for the AG’s full support of the water compact? At a Montana Water Resources Association meeting last year, Tim Fox referred to Jay Weiner as his “water guru.” Perhaps it is Weiner’s flawed view of the law and his biased point of view that successfully pulled the AG’s staff behind the CSKT compact like good little soldiers.
Does Tim Fox think Montanans living on private lands within reservation boundaries willingly gave up their rights, or that they must submit to tribal jurisdiction?
Chas Vincent’s recent package for legislators included a letter to Tim Fox from state solicitor Dale Schowengerdt. Would you be surprised that according to this man, the compact is perfectly legal and constitutional?
Is Schowengerdt really attempting to argue that the loss of constitutional protections and guarantees are the logical and reasonable result of a federal mandate to their trust obligation to tribes? REALLY?
Is it at all possible that the Attorney General for the state of Montana buys this garbage through his silence? Does the Constitution apply only to some people, or does it apply to everyone?
The letter itself also brings into question whether the solicitor or the attorney general have any understanding at all as to where the real “takings” are within the compact documents, or what equal protection under the law or due process really means. Not how attorney’s define it, but WHAT IT REALLY MEANS.
Where does the Attorney General stand on the tribe’s lawsuit?
Last year, the Attorney General’s office punted on the tribe’s lawsuit trying to make it go away because the “issues aren’t ripe”. Perhaps they silently hope that if the compact passes, the AG’s office won’t have to take a stand against the tribe on the lawsuit and actually have to defend the property rights of Montanans.
Either way the people of Montana lose. Fox’s support of the compact, intentionally or not, is placing a thumb on the tribe’s side of the scale in the tribe’s lawsuit. After all, if the state willingly gives the tribe all of the water flowing on, under and through the reservation in this compact, why shouldn’t they have
aboriginal title to and jurisdiction over all of the privately owned lands too?
So Will the Real Snake Oil Salesman Please Stand Up?
I am thankful that God gave me a brain and the ability to read and to understand the Constitution. I do not need dozens of state attorneys to think for me, or to interpret very simple words with very simple meanings. I am not buying what the tribe, the compact commission, the governor or the attorney general’s offices are attempting to sell in the form of this water compact.
I did not agree to give up any of my rights as a citizen of the United States or Montana when I purchased private land within the historical boundaries of a diminished and open reservation. Nor did I, or will I ever agree to place myself under the jurisdiction of a tribal government / corporation because the attorney general or the “state solicitor” say it’s okay with them.
No snake oil salesman, whether it be the governor, attorney general, compact commission, or any legislator who made their own “deal” with the tribe in this compact, can diminish my rights or compel me to submit to the jurisdiction of a tribe. My rights are not a bargaining chip to be cavalierly surrendered in a “negotiation”, and neither are my neighbors. ¹
¹ Chris Tweeten 08/2012: “… the response is to remind the tribes about the Grand Bargain, and the fact that we agreed to do this extraordinary thing, frankly, with respect to agreeing to subject or to remove non-Indian rights on the reservation from the jurisdiction and control of the state, and place that somewhere else at the tribe’s request. “