@2017 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana

From a Missoulian article:

“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has reversed course on plans to hand management of the National Bison Range to the Bureau of Indian Affairs…”

In the article Zinke is quoted as saying:

“I took a hard look at the current proposal suggesting a new direction for the National Bison Range and assessed what this would mean for Montana and the nation,” Zinke said in an email to the Missoulian. “As Secretary, my job is to look 100 years forward at all of Interior’s resources. I recognize the Bison Range is a critical part of our past, present and future, which is why I have changed course.”

The CSKT response:

We understood that President (Donald) Trump and Secretary Zinke himself had promised about not selling off public lands, but from my perspective, that isn’t what this is,” Finley said Wednesday. “It’s more of a restoration of reservation land, which is different than selling public land. That was the understanding with the previous secretary of interior. We’ll have to speak with the secretary and the (CSKT Tribal) Council, and look at what our possible options are going forward.”

We disagree with the tribe’s assessment.  It is not a restoration, it should instead be called exactly what it is:  a proposed transfer of wealth to a tribal corporation by taking public lands, and transferring that to the Tribes. Had the plan been approved, it would have resulted in a transfer of public lands to a special interest federal corporation at the expense of every citizen of this country.  And access to that Bison Range would have been used as more extortion of the public.

Note to Chairman Finley: What ever land has been restored to the reservation was completed in 1934 with the Indian Reorganization Act.  Now its time to be productive citizens, not living on the public dime.

It also is one more avenue toward the undermining of our local government, and once again pushes the envelope of attempting to establish precedent for returning ceded lands back to tribes, not through the will of Congress, but through the will of an appointed bureaucrat.

Keep in mind that the tribes were compensated for their ceded lands, including the Bison Range and title to them was extinguished at that time.  Payments to the CSKT were awarded through various congressional actions as well as Indian Claims Commission and Court of Claims complaints that the tribes took against the United States many decades ago, and these actions were intended to be final resolutions of the tribe’s complaints.  The Tribes complaints and legal claims are now stale claims that were settled long ago.

Do you recall the term “Groundhog Day”?  Why is it that through the decades we continue to deal with the same issues over and over and over again?

The bold movement proposed in this latest Bison Range go around, to transfer what are public lands to the CSKT, very much reminds us of a 2012 request by the United Nations to “restore” Indian lands back to the tribes.

For more information on Zinke’s Bison range decision, including the uninformed and politically correct responses of our “congressional delegation”, please see the Missoulian article at this link.

As far as options being considered by the tribe, we frankly wouldn’t be surprised if the CSKT attempt to use their congressional lapdogs, particularly Jon Tester,  to present legislation to achieve the tribe’s objective to own the Bison Range once again.

This tired old game has now been completely exposed and will not stand. the Tribes are self-determined and do not get to exercise jurisdiction over public lands or the private resources of others.