© 2015 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
Nearly four years ago, a wise and concerned irrigator warned us about the CSKT water compact. He simply said that if we made the battle about race, we would not have his support. That was not a message to be taken lightly, nor has it ever been forgotten.
Unfortunately recent news coverage places far too much emphasis on race, we believe because race is a place that the media and the federal government, and even the state of Montana (particularly the Compact Commission) have wanted people to go. The powers that be understand that it is a losing argument and is the fastest way to take down an opposing point of view.
So how do you keep race out of the debate, when the nature of the water compact is about federal reserved water rights for the Flathead Indian Reservation?
Simple. By sticking to the facts of the compact and the overreach of the federal government that this compact represents. And you stay with that strategy beginning to end, through the legislative process and through the courts.
Over the past few years, we personally have taken a lot of heat from people on both sides of the issue because we did not allow ourselves to get caught up in the red herring of playing the race card. I can honestly say that standing firm on our strategy to stick with the facts was worth every uncomfortable moment. This includes the moment we saw the legislature aligning to cram the compact down the throats of 360,000 people living in western Montana in order to “save” the remaining 640,000 Montanans from the aggressive threats of the United States and the CSKT.
Since this blog began in 2012, we have been contacted by many organizations outside of the state of Montana who are fighting for their water because of the overreach of the federal government, using whatever means necessary. Our situation simply has to do with an Indian Reservation, but many others do not. In other words, it’s really not about the Indians, and it’s not about race. It’s about the state of Montana ignoring its sovereign duty to its citizens, and providing the federal government with the control necessary to restrict individual freedom and property rights for a large percentage of its citizens. It is also about federal overreach, the destruction of agriculture and violations of the public trust.
In the wake of significant United States losses in the United States vs. New Mexico case in the 70’s, the federal government realized that it was more efficient and effective to “negotiate” water settlements. Water-rich Montana was ripe for the picking. No matter how good the intentions were of the legislators who established the compact commission in 1979, they created a corruptible avenue that ultimately relinquished to the United States ownership and control of most of the valuable water resources of the state of Montana.
So why is the race card now being pointed out with respect to the water compact? Because it is the only argument left to those whose mission it is to destroy any opposition to the water compact that remains. Unfortunately for them, there are many compact opposition groups working throughout the state, and they are not all connected.
Proponents of the compact, try as they might to take down the opposition by painting a broad brush of racism, will not succeed. This is because there are many that understand the tribe is only one small element, not necessarily a critical one, and most likely is an irrelevant factor in the equation for federal government control.
So with all that being said, we will continue to stick with the facts as we move through the legal system, and work to hold accountable those people of the state of Montana who supported the depredation of the property rights of citizens whose only “mistake” was to think they are protected by the constitution and as such have been playing by the same rules as three hundred million other people in our country.