Archive for August 22nd, 2011

Kerr Dam operates with all gates open last May in preparation for record snowmelt. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, on whose reservation the dam sits, is preparing for the probable takeover of the dam from PPL Montana in 2015. (Photo by TOM BAUER/Missoulian)

The people of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in northwestern Montana are preparing to regain control of one most essential assets on their reservation: One that controls water but was built without their consent and controlled by a out-of-state company for 25 years.

CSKT is getting ready to take back Kerr Dam.

Here’s the full story from the Missoulian’s Vince Devlin:

POLSON – The clock has been ticking since 1985, and these days, Brian Lipscomb admits, it seems to tick a little louder with each passing day.

Lipscomb, hired a year ago as the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ first Department of Energy director, is overseeing the tribes’ probable takeover of Kerr Dam from PPL Montana in 2015.

There’s likely to be an arbitration process to determine the price the tribes will pay PPL Montana for the dam – the two sides disagree on that right now by more than $40 million – but CSKT chairman E.T. “Bud” Moran says generations of tribal leaders have worked for this day.

And Lipscomb says it will happen.

“The tribes negotiated for the right to buy the dam in 1985,” he says, “and they have been planning for it since, and saving for that.”

Lipscomb says the dam sits on tribal land on the Flathead Reservation that is culturally significant to Indian people, many of whom opposed its construction in the 1930s.

“From a tribal perspective it was devastating,” he says. “There was no tribal government at the time, but it was quite controversial.”

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Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s recent book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

So far, most of the government’s austerity movement has been theoretical. We know the federal budget is shrinking, but the evidence of that has been slow to surface.

Proposals to wipe out the Bureau of Indian Affairs (and replace it with what?) remain little more than spin. Kentucky Sen. Paul Rand’s bill, for example, has no co-sponsors, no hearing schedule and no chance.

But real budget cuts, the kind that will have deep and lasting impact in Native American communities across the country, are starting to take shape.

Last week the Office of Management and Budget sent a memorandum to agencies outlining an approach to the coming budget.

“In light of the tight limits on discretionary spending starting in 2012, your 2013 budget submission to OMB should provide options to support the President’s commitment to cut waste and reorder priorities to achieve deficit reduction while investing in those areas critical to job creation and economic growth,” writes Jacob J. Lew, OMB’s director. “Unless your agency has been given explicit direction otherwise by OMB, your overall agency request for 2013 should be at least 5 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation. As discussed at the recent Cabinet meetings, your 2013 budget submission should also identify additional discretionary funding reductions that would bring your request to a level that is at least 10 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation.”

Lew writes that two budget scenarios give the president enough information to “make the tough choices necessary to meet the hard spending targets.”

Further, the agencies are told they have to make these reductions “without across-the-board reductions or reductions to mandatory spending in appropriations bills, reclassifications of existing discretionary spending to mandatory, or enactment of new user fees to offset existing spending.”

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