© 2020 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
Just in time to get maximum benefit for his 2020 Senate campaign, Senator Daines issued a press release on December 10, 2019 that touted this amazing feat:
Daines, Tester Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Permanently Settle CSKT Water Dispute, Protect Water Rights of All Montanans
Once again, just like his S.3014 legislative disaster, Senator Daines, without ever looking into the issue, reading SB262, or talking to the people whose lives will be impacted by it, knows exactly what is necessary to solve the federal Indian policy problem that he has helped to intensify through the dozens of tribal (government) funding and self-determination bills he has supported throughout his lackluster Congressional career.
When we met with Senator Daines in August 2018 to share with him the People’s Compact, he explained to us that he understood the CSKT Compact to be the most divisive piece of legislation passed in Montana, and took the step of assuring us that as long as he was a Senator, the SB262 water compact would never be ratified.
A year later, he introduced an unchanged CSKT Compact, adding his own tribal settlement candy to it.
This experience makes it abundantly clear that Daines’ understands the power of his position and knows exactly how to convey to you what he thinks you want to hear, while he has already chartered his own course that does not include, solve or consider any of its far reaching implications, except to the extent that they help his own self-serving agenda.
It is as though he wanted to look some of the people he was deceiving in the eyes before he introduced legislation that would destroy them, or perhaps he simply used the opportunity to privately determine that the issues we brought to him weren’t worthy of his consideration.
So with that background, here are today’s questions for consideration:
Exactly how will the Daines Water Compact Protect the Water Rights of all Montanans?
Why do the water rights of ALL Montanan’s need to be protected from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes?
If the tribe is awarded most if not all of the water in western Montana in the Daines Compact, isn’t it just the CSKT water rights that the Daines’ bill “protects”?
If everyone’s water rights are protected in the Daines Compact, then why did the state convey in public meetings that we never had water rights in the first place? Does that statement indicate that the state sees homesteaders and landowners as squatters on these lands, that have illegally been using the tribe’s water for more than 100 years?
Will the Daines “solution” truly bring closure to the problem of the CSKT Tribal Corporation Government beast, or will it simply feed and empower it toward more aggression against its own members and the non-members whose property rights and constitutional protections were surrendered by our federal, state and county governments in SB262 / S.3019?
Exactly how does the Daines water compact “permanently settle the CSKT water dispute”? Doesn’t the Daines solution instead serve to EXPAND it?
Daines has indicated to Lake County that the damages due to the tribe are in excess of $30 billion rather than the paltry $1.9 included in S.3019. If this is true, why is the public not able to see the DAMAGES REPORT referenced in his bill? Without that information, how can we know what problem Senator Daines has solved?
If Senator Daines has FIXED THE PROBLEM with his legislation, why is Lake County discussing the possibility that the county could cease to exist, that perhaps the tribe will buy some of us out with all that “settlement” money, and that irrigators should consider abandoning the Federal Irrigation Project?
Will the Daines bill be the final fulfillment of the tribe’s treaty at long last? If so, does that mean that all of the tribe’s grievances have been resolved and there no longer is a need for federal government trust responsibility? With his solution, will Senator Daines have found the answer to true tribal member self-determination, making a tribal corporation government unnecessary?
After thirty or more years of so-called “negotiations”, how is it that this tribe reaches a settlement that not only gives them all of the water with a time immemorial priority date, but they also get billions of dollars, take over the state’s responsibility of jurisdiction over the water uses of non-Indians, before you even get to the Daine’s goodies.
How did one small tribe reach a settlement that gives them all the marbles, and hangs the state of Montana out to dry?
And why in the world would our entire congressional delegation support legislation that incorporates such a one-sided, winner take all settlement?
Is it possible that Senator Daines, Jon Tester and Greg Gianforte have no interest in solving the problem, and are more interested in perpetuating it instead?