Welcome to our Water Rights Library. This page will be used to provide links to documents and other information found throughout the internet that that might find helpful to you in learning more about this issue. We have the following categories of documents:
- Aboriginal Title and Land Patent Documents
- Articles and Court Decisions Related to Indian Reserved Water Rights
- Constitution, Laws and Other Important Documents
- CSKT Water Compact Proposal Documents
- CSKT Lawsuit 02/27/14
- Department of Interior Documents
- Flathead Irrigation and Power Project and Cooperative Management Entity Documents
- Flathead / CSKT Water Compact Documents
- Montana Code Annotated Pertaining to this Compact
- Montana Water Resource Survey Books
- US Congressional Documents Pertaining to Flathead Irrigation
- United States Court of Claims and Indian Claims Commission Documents
- Water Compact Video Links
- Water Rights Books A and B Flathead, Lake and Missoula Counties (1909-1923)
NOTE: Some of these files are large, so be patient waiting for them to come up.
CONSTITUTION AND OTHER IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS / LAWS
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES
CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
CONFEDERATED SALISH AND KOOTENAI TRIBES RELATED TREATIES:
FEDERAL LAWS RELATED TO FLATHEAD INDIAN RESERVATION:
- Treaties, Acts and Other Important Documents of the Flathead Indian Reservation
- Flathead Allotment Act 1904
- Dawes Act
- Indian Citizenship Act of 1924
- Indian Reorganization Act of 1934
MISCELLANEOUS FLATHEAD RESERVATION INFORMATION:
- Flathead Reservation Land Status Map
- Flathead Reservation Timeline
- Public Law 93-638 Indian Self Determination Act
FLATHEAD IRRIGATION PROJECT AND COOPERATIVE MGT ENTITY
FLATHEAD JOINT BOARD OF CONTROL
The joint board was established to represent the water users of the Flathead Irrigation Project. It is a local government with 12 board members or commissioners elected by irrigators through the county election process. The Mission and Jocko Districts have 3 representatives each and the Flathead District has 5 representatives, and a member at large is selected by the 11 commissioners. Acreage in the districts are approximately:
87,088 80% Flathead District
7,038 6% Jocko District
15,112 14% Mission District
The history of the project has been confusing and conflicted because of a tug of war between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) and the non-Indian landowners who paid for the project. Lands served by the project are 10% tribal and 90% private fee lands.
The Irrigator Water Use Agreement was called a private agreement between the tribe and irrigators and was originally intended to be an appendix to the compact is a further attempt to rewrite project history to give CSKT ownership of the all water in the project. It also proposes that in exchange for the relinquishment of water rights, irrigators will receive a one size fits all allotment of water that ignores historical use and many irrigators will receive significantly less water which is likely to force them to curtail operations or may ultimately put them out of business.
Former commissioners of the joint board, many with tribal leases and other conflicts of interest, were positioned to approve that agreement until irrigators awakened to find out what they were doing. This caused a huge divide in the irrigation community that continues today.
After irrigator elections replacing compact and water agreement proponents, and the recall of two commissioners earlier in 2014, the FJBC (Flathead Joint Board of Control) for the Flathead Irrigation Project was reinstituted in May 2014. This was necessary because the former joint board was officially disestablished on 12/12/13, after two commissioners in each of the Jocko and Mission districts withdrew their districts from the FJBC collapsing it in an attempt to try to force the water use agreement on their constituents.
To see court cases related to the project and water use agreement, visit the COURTS page of our blog.
COOPERATIVE MANAGEMENT ENTITY
A 1948 federal act mandated the project management be turned over to the water users/irrigators once project construction debt was repaid. This federal law however did not prevent the CSKT from trying to take over the management of the project although 90% of lands served by the project are owned by non-Indians.
Starting in 1926, a series of repayment contracts were initiated on 05/12/1928, 02/27/1929, 03/28/1934, 08/26/1936 and 04/18/1950. Some of those documents are linked below:
1927 Repayment Contract Document
1949 Repayment Contract Document
1950 Flathead District Repayment Contract Document
1950 Jocko District Repayment Contract Document 3
1951 Mission District Repayment Contract Document
In addition to lawsuits, and continuing its aggressive push to take over the project, the CSKT attempted to “638 contract” with the federal government to manage the irrigation project in 2007. This request was rejected by the Department of Interior. Find that document here.
In 2010, the daily operations of the project were turned over to an quasi state, federal, tribal “entity” named the CME or Cooperative Management Entity. This entity gave the CSKT a disproportional 50% of the board representation and Irrigators 50% of the representation for the management of the project. In addition to it not being fair representation of irrigators, the reality of the board that it WAS TRIBALLY controlled. Irrigator appointees to the board had a significant financial interest in tribal leases, and one irrigator appointee was a tribal member. After the 2012 introduction of the water use agreement and very close public scrutiny, they changed their meeting rules to institute a policy that violated the Montana Open Meeting Laws and restricted irrigator participation.
Note: A lesson to be learned from cooperative agreements with the tribe is that the tribe ignores state law when it is convenient for them, and they do what they desire running over any protections that Montana citizens thought the law afforded them. After all, they are “sovereigns”, and that trumps everything, even the United States Constitution.
The CME ceased to exist in 2013 after the Mission and Jocko districts of the irrigation project collapsed the FJBC, a signatory on the Transfer Agreement, leaving a management void that needed to be filled. The Mission Irrigation District, with by far the largest number of acres served by the project, attempted to fill that gap, but were ignored completely by the Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The BIA unilaterally reassumed management of the project, ignoring the fact that federal statute dictates that management of the project is supposed to be in the hands of the irrigators. Here are their recent letters concerning the reassumption:
On 04/02/2014, the Flathead and Mission Irrigation Districts filed a TURNOVER COMPLAINT to stop the BIA takeover of project operations.
On 07/28/2014 an AMENDED TURNOVER COMPLAINT was filed in this lawsuit.
With evidence that policies are being implemented by the BIA that are detrimental to the ability of irrigators to plan their operations, on August 28, 2014 the Flathead Joint Board of Control filed a MOTION AND BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER, EXPEDITED DISCOVER AND REQUEST FOR HEARING. That document can be found here.
BIA DOCUMENTS RELATED TO FLATHEAD IRRIGATION PROJECT AND THE COOPERATIVE MANAGEMENT ENTITY (CME) :
OTHER FLATHEAD IRRIGATION PROJECT DOCUMENTS
1909-1923 Water Rights Book A
1909-1923 Water Rights Book B
1930 Flathead Power Development – Scattergood
1938 (1946) BIA – Flathead Project
1946 Walker Report
1985 FIP Comprehensive Review 10/85 – Volume 1
1985 FIP Comprehensive Review 10/85 Volume 2
1994 Dutton Report
2001 Bureau of Reclamation – Flathead Project
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR CIRCULARS / LETTERS
1989 Solicitor letter discussing the filing of irrigator water rights
FLATHEAD PROJECT SPECIFIC DOCUMENTS
INSTREAM FLOW LETTERS: When it became apparent that the compact was not the “slam dunk” the negotiators thought it would be, the federal government flexed its muscles in an attempt to put the public on notice that they would go after our water using other means if necessary. In addition to calling a “special meeting of the FJBC”, here are two letters sent out with the same chilling message. We all know water is a very valuable resource. We also know why the feds want it, but don’t know why the state / compact commission was so willing, almost eager to concede it to them in this compact.
Keep in mind, the current proposed compact and water use agreement propose to increase instream flows on the project by a whopping 400% without as much as an analysis of its impacts on irrigators, or to determine how much water is needed for fish.
U.S. CONGRESSIONAL DOCUMENTS RELATED TO FLATHEAD PROJECT
1907 Secretary of Interior Letter – Irrigation of Flathead Reservation
1908 Estimate for Irrigation of Flathead Reservation
1909 Lands Reserved for Power and Reservoir Sites
1910 Withdrawal of Power Sites
1910 Secretary of Interior Letter – Certain Power Sites
1910 Secretary of Interior Letter – Land Reserved Flathead Reservation
1912 Senate Report – Lands Bordering Flathead Lake
1914 House Report Investigate Irrigation Projects on Indian Lands
1915 Appropriation for Irrigation
1916 Secy of Interior Letter – Flathead Land Reserved Power / Reservoir
1926 Supplemental Appropriations Flathead Irrigation
1927 President of U.S. – Flathead Irrigation
1929 President of U.S. Flathead Irrigation
1930 Flathead Power Development
1934 Survey of Indians – On Developing Flathead Power
1939 Secretary of Interior Deferring Collection of Construction Costs
1939 Deferring Collection of Charges Flathead
1946 Supplemental Appropriation
1947 Deferring Collection of Construction Charges
1948 House Adjust Irrigation Charges Flathead
1948 Senate Adjust Irrigation Charges Flathead
1949 Amending Act to Adjust Irrigation Charges Senate
1949 House Report – Eliminating Lands from FIIP
1949 Amend Act to Adjust Irrigation Charges House
1950 Amending Public Law 554 Flathead Irrigation
1950 Amending Provisions of 1948 Act
1950 Eliminate 12 Acres Flathead Irrigation Project
1962 Appropriation for Flathead Irrigation and Power Systems
1964 House Appropriation for Completion of Irrigation and Power
1964 Senate Appropriation for Completion of Irrigation and Power
ARTICLES AND COURT DECISIONS RELATED TO INDIAN WATER RIGHTS:
COHEN, FELIX S: ORIGINAL INDIAN TITLE
FOLK-WILLIAMS, JOHN A.: THE USE OF NEGOTIATED AGREEMENTS TO RESOLVE WATER DISPUTES INVOLVING INDIAN RIGHTS
MORRISON, SHARON M.: COMMENTS ON INDIAN WATER RIGHTS
OHAIR, JENELLE, MORRIS: THE FEDERAL RESERVED RIGHTS DOCTRINE AND PRACTICABLY IRRIGABLE ACREAGE: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
PUBLIC LAND AND RESOURCES LAW REVIEW STAFF: NAMEN: RIPARIAN RIGHTS ON FLATHEAD LAKE
SIMMS, RICHARD A. : NATIONAL WATER POLICY IN THE WAKE OF UNITED STATES V. NEW MEXICO
WILLIAMS, SUSAN: INDIAN WINTERS WATER RIGHTS ADMINISTRATION: AVERTING NEW WAR
RECAP OF LAWS AND SIGNIFICANT RESERVED WATER RIGHTS COURT CASES(Note is not all inclusive, let us know of others)
CIOTTI 2: Ciotti II CSKT vs ClinchIN
CIOTTI 3: CSKT vs Stults
DOCUMENTS RELATED TO LAND PATENTS AND ABORIGINAL TITLE
ORIGINAL INDIAN TITLE by Felix Cohen
MONTANA WATER RIGHTS INFORMATION
BASIC MONTANA WATER LAW – Ted J. Doney
HEADWATERS TO A CONTINENT – Susan Higgins, Montana Watercourse
INSTREAM FLOW POLICY IN MONTANA: A HISTORY AND BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE – Matthew J. McKinney
CHANGING CHANGES: A ROAD MAP FOR MONTANA WATER MANAGEMENT – Ziemer, Bradshaw, Casey
SOIL STUDIES FOR OUR AREA:
Walker Report: https://westernmtwaterrights.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/120813-walker-report.pdf
Soil Survey: https://westernmtwaterrights.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/soil_survey.pdf
MONTANA WATER RESOURCE SURVEY BOOKS
CSKT RESERVED WATER RIGHTS COMPACT DOCUMENTS:
MONTANA CODE ANNOTATED:
TITLE 2: State Agency Actions Related to Private Property
TITLE 2: CHAPTER 3 Montana Open Meeting Law
TITLE 2: CHAPTER 15 Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission
TITLE 18 CHAPTER 11: State Tribal Cooperative Agreements
TITLE 85: WATER USE
TITLE 85 CHAPTER 2 PART 7: Indian and Federal Water Rights
TITLE 85: CHAPTER 7: Irrigation Districts
2013 Guide to Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA)
Attorney General Guidelines to Montana’s Private Property Assessment Act
TRIBAL COMPACT PROPOSAL DOCUMENTS
The elements of the existing proposed compact were borne out of the tribe’s proposals to the state in 2001, 2007 and 2010. For years the state rejected the tribe’s demands, but something changed after 2010 and the state ultimately gave in to all the tribe’s demands in the current compact.
In 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed into law the Indian Claims Commission Act, creating a special judicial body allowing Indian tribes to file claims of all kinds against the United States government. Any claim against the United States, extending back to the American Revolution, could be brought before the Commission. To be valid, however, the claims had to be brought within five years of the passage of the Act. Any claims not brought before August 13th, 1951 would be forever barred by the statute. Despite the deadline, claims that arose from events prior to 1946 continue to be brought by Indian tribes. The important goal of the Indian Claims Commission has been largely forgotten or ignored, as courts persist in allowing tribal suits.
Here are documents specific to the CSKT:
INDIAN CLAIMS COMMISSION
CLAIM RELATED TO PAYMENT FOR CEDED LANDS AND OTHER ISSUES:
Docket 61 AUG 03, 1959 FINDINGS OF FACT
Docket 61 AUG 03, 1959 OPINION OF THE COMMISSION
Docket 61 AUG 03, 1959 INTERLOCHUTORY ORDER
Docket 61 SEP 29, 1965 ADDITIONAL FINDINGS OF FACT
Docket 61 SEP 29, 1965 OPINION OF THE COMMISSION
Docket 61 SEP 29, 1965 SECOND INTERLOCHUTORY ORDER
Docket 61 AUG 01, 1966 FINDINGS OF FACT IN COMPROMISE SETTLEMENT
Docket 61 MAR 10, 1967 FINDING OF FACTS ON ATTORNEY FEE
Docket 61 MAR 10, 1967 ORDER ALLOWING ATTORNEYS FEES
UNITED STATES COURT OF CLAIMS
CLAIM RELATED TO PAYMENT FOR RESERVATION LANDS:
Docket 50233 January 20, 1969 CSKT VS U.S. 401 F 2d 785
Docket 50233 November 14, 1969 CSKT VS U.S. 417 F 2d 1340
Docket 50233 January 22, 1971 CSKT VS U.S. 437F2d 458
Docket 50233 October 13, 1972 CSKT VS U.S. 467 F 2d 1315
CLAIM RELATED TO KERR DAM LOW COST BLOCK OF POWER/ TRIBE’S RENT RECEIPTS
CONGRESSIONAL DOCUMENTS RELATED TO CSKT AND COURT OF CLAIMS
1926 05/03 Conferring Jurisdiction on C of C for CSKT Senate Report 754
1932 03/23 Permit Flathead Tribes to File Suit in C of C Senate Report 483
1932 05/04 Permit Indians to File Suit House Report 1211
1934 04/26 Authorize Certain Indians to File Suit in C of C Report 1374
1943 03/05 CSKT Committee of Indian Affairs Senate Report 85
1946 05/09 Claims of the CSKT Against U.S. Senate Report 1325
1946 05/14 Claims of the CSKT Against the U.S. House Report 2050
1946 06/29 Truman Veto of Bill for CSKT House Doc 685
1946 07/10 Claims of CSKT Against the U.S. House Report 2485
1946 07/15 Claims of the CSKT Against U.S. Senate Report 1714
1967 03/10 Disposition of Judgment for CSKT v U.S. Senate Report 65
1967 04/11 Disposition of Judgment CSKT v. U.S. House Report 185
1969 08/12 Disposition of Judgment CSKT v. U.S. Report 91-380
1969 09/04 Disposition of Judgment CSKT v. U.S. Report 91-471
1971 07/30 Authorize Disposition of Judgment Report 92-334
1971 12/01 Disposing of Judgment Recovered by CSKT Report 92-696
1972 03/01 Disposition of CSKT Judgment Report 92-892
WATER COMPACT VIDEO LINKS
06/2013 Flathead Water Compact This is a powerpoint narrative giving a good overview of the history of the compact / reservation and the proposed CSKT water compact.
02/2014 CSKT Water Compact: Good for Montana or a Government Grab for Resources? Listen to Dr. Kate Vandemoer, Ph.D, hydrologist, discuss some of the more controversial aspects of the water compact. Our sincerest thanks to Northwest Liberty News for providing this information.
01/2014 Stranglehold on Free Speech Listen to Tim Orr, irrigator on the Flathead Reservation discuss the repercussions to him and his family for speaking out against the Flathead Water Compact
05/2015 Most Western Montanans are not aware that a war is being waged against them, a battle for their land and water. This video is the first in a three part series of videos that lays out the details of this war and introduces the Montana Land and Water Alliance, an organization created to protect the property rights of Montanans.
06/2015 Below find the follow up to our recent video HIDDEN WAR. In 15 minutes learn about the most egregious aspects of the water compact, and find out how such a bad document was navigated through the Montana legislature. Stay tuned for a third video from the Montana Land and Water Alliance to learn to fight the federal beast who clearly has Montana in its crosshairs.
WATER RIGHTS BOOKS A AND B, FLATHEAD, LAKE AND MISSOULA COUNTIES (1909-1923)
These books include filings for water appropriation claims / rights filings from Flathead and Missoula Counties in the early 1900’s including those claims filed by the United States for the Flathead Irrigation Project and claims filed for Kerr Dam. These files are rather large, about 400 pages (50meg) each so please be patient for them to load.
CSKT Lawsuit 02/27/14
On 02/27/14 the CSKT filed suit against the Department of Interior, the Montana Water Court, the 20th District Court of the State of Montana, Irrigation districts of the Flathead Irrigation Project and other individuals. This suit is intended to circumvent the courts of the state of Montana in a blatant attempt to get the federal courts to declare that the CSKT own all the water, and essentially all the land within the historical boundaries of the reservation.
Attorney for the Flathead Joint Board of Control Jon Metropoulos responded by asking Attorney General Tim Fox to get involved in this issue to protect the land and water rights of its citizens and the institutions of the state of Montana. See both documents below.
Reference the COURTS page of this blog for many additional documents related to the tribe’s lawsuit. Note on 05/18/15 the Federal District court in Missoula dismissed this suit without prejudice. We fully expect it to resurrect its ugly head again once the issues with the CSKT water compact are resolved. Reference the COURTS page of this blog to see a copy of the dismissal and other documents in this suit.