Posts Tagged ‘CSKT’

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana held council elections in mid-December. The winds of change must of been blowing hard that day.

As Vince Devlin of the Missoulian reports, four of five incumbents were voted out of office.

The CSKT council consists of 10 seats come up for election every two years. Once the councilors are seated, they choose a chairman.

    PABLO – Tribal government on the Flathead Indian Reservation will take on a decidedly different look Friday, when the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Council elects a new leader and four new council members are sworn in.

    Voters last month turned four of five incumbents out of office, including Tribal Chairman E.T. “Bud” Moran.

    Only council member Terry Pitts of Dixon was able to hang onto his job, defeating challenger Anita L. Orr Matt 659-626.

    Every other incumbent went down to defeat. The casualties included both Moran, who represented the Pablo District, and former Chairman James Steele Jr. of Arlee.

    “I’ve said before that Jimmy the Greek would have lost his shorts in a tribal election,” said former CSKT Chairman Fred Matt, who himself lost a 2006 council race that cost him the leadership position. “I can’t see any rhyme or reason to why it happens. There were no hot-button issues. I really think a large number of people just vote to change. They don’t always have a specific reason.”

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Two bills signed into law this spring will help even out taxes for tribal entities, the Char-Koosta news reports. A lobbying effort from members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes help ensure the passage of the bills.

    The first victory was the passage of House Bill 618, which provides for a property tax exemption for property owned by the Tribes if the property is used for essential governmental services. The passage of this bill puts the Tribal government on equal footing with cities, counties and the state where property is used for governmental purposes.

HB 618 will also help equalize tribal college tax exemptions and help clarify property size limits for the institutions.

    The next triumph was Senate Bill 412, which provides for a temporary tax exemption while the Tribes are transitioning tribally owned property from fee status to tribal Trust status. The federal fee-to-trust process is an expensive 17-step process with involvement of the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and several contracted professionals.


Jenna Cederberg

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Salish Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee Elders Committee is being asked to weigh in on the mining regulation discussion the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are having with the state of Montana.

Officials in Montana have offered to begin regulating building stone mines on reservation fee land, the Char-Koosta News reports. As the tribe’s legal department continues to examine the issue, the elders’ opinions are being brought into the discussion as well. Sovereignty and the health of the land were main points of interest at the first meeting with elders to discuss the mining regulations.

There are several unregulated stone building mines on the reservation already. One has generated anger because of its close proximity to the sacred Chief Cliff site overlooking Flathead Lake.

    “When it comes to hard rock mines on fee land within the exterior boundaries of the Flathead Reservation, (fee land owners) can mine without regulations,” (CSKT legal department attorney Stu) Levit said. “The mining at Chief Cliff and Perma has been going on for quite a few years now. Cultural preservation acts don’t carry much weight.”

    Levit said the Tribes were concerned about the building stone mining at Perma and went to the State with their concerns. It was in those discussions that the CSKT learned that the State doesn’t have the regulative authority when it comes to building stone mining.

    . . .

    Elder Pat Pierre advised caution when it comes to the strange bedfellows political mix of State and tribal because it seems that it is the tribal people who consistently come out on the short end of the deal. He added that tribal people historically have had little say – if any – in laws that affect them.

Jenna Cederberg

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Ray Halbritter (Courtesy ICTMN)

Ray Halbritter (Courtesy ICTMN)


Indian Country Today Media Network site launches
The new Indian Country Today Media Network launched this week under the motto “Serving the Nations, Celebrating the People.”

The site include news alert and recent posts section under a slideshow-like format containing its features. Not only are the photos done more justice, videos are now also have a spot to call their own. Reader shared content is being actively solicited.

I spent some time on the site Friday afternoon, but not enough. Take some time to look around if you haven’t yet.

Oneida Nation CEO Ray Halbritter posted this in his site introduction message:

    The website will serve as a one-stop destination for the vast and growing number of people interested in our news, culture, ideals and businesses. Most important is the website’s social network: The nations’ first true online community and forum for all of our disparate and common interests.

Maggie Goode first Native American appointed to federal board
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes member Maggie Goode was recently named to the USDA’s Federal Crop Insurance Corporation board of directors. It makes her the first Native and first Montanan to hold a spot on the board, the Char-Koosta reports.

Goode’s family ranches in northwestern Montana, near the small town of Niarada. She will serve a four-year term.

    The FCIC consists of a ten-member board, with each being nominated to and then selected and appointed for a four-year term by the Department of Agriculture Secretary. Goode said, she is still unaware of who may have nominated her for the position.

    Goode said, she is honored for the appointment and is pleased that a tribal member will be involved in the decision making process. “Tribes need involvement at all levels; county, state and federal,” she added.

Crow Tribe discusses water settlement bill
From Susan Olp of the Billings Gazette:

CROW AGENCY — In 1998, Clara Nomee, then chair of the Crow Tribe, instigated negotiations with state officials over a possible water compact.

On Tuesday, she sat on the stage of the Multipurpose Building in Crow Agency as speaker after speaker, including U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, talked about the importance of the recently passed federal bill that would quantify the tribe’s water rights and bring hundreds of millions of dollars in water projects to the Crow Tribe.

“It’s for the benefit of employment of the people,” Nomee said in a soft voice, over the din of a loudspeaker. “And it’s for the betterment of the reservation.”

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Photo by Kurt Wilson, of the Missoulian

Photo by Kurt Wilson, of the Missoulian

Missoulian photographer Kurt Wilson’s photo from the National Bison Range accompanied Vince Devlin’s update on the range since a federal judge in Washington, D.C., rescinded a funding agreement in September that removed about a dozen Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal employees from the U.S. wildlife refuge.

Happy New Year from the Buffalo Post. Sunday Brunch will return next week.

Jenna Cederberg

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Bud Moran (Courtesy of CSKT)

Bud Moran (Courtesy of CSKT)


E.T. “Bud” Moran, who will represent the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes at this week’s Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, D.C., is hoping discussion priorities center on topics like health care, housing and economic development.

As the Missoulian’s Vince Devlin reports, Moran also wants the burgeoning deficit to be a topic of focus.

    “One of the major things we think about at this level is deficit reduction,” Moran said before departing for Washington. “The federal deficit is going to affect everyone, and it’s going to affect future generations.”

    That’s where the “seven-generation” philosophy comes in. When Indian tribes make decisions, he said, they consider not just immediate impacts, or impacts five or 10 years down the road, but how their decisions today will affect the next seven generations to come.

    The Tribal Nations Conference, the second since Obama took office, offers the leaders of 565 American Indian tribes an opportunity to “interact directly with the president and representatives from the highest level of his administration,” according to the White House.

CSKT also made the news today for a unique land deal that will help protect and repair 6 miles of riverbank along Little Bitterroot, which runs through the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana. Vince Devlin has that report for the Missoulian as well.

Jenna Cederberg

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Corey Ducharme with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service drives bison toward the monitoring station during the annual roundup at the National Bison Range on Monday morning. In recent years, motorized vehicles have replaced horseback riders. (LINDA THOMPSON/Missoulian)

Corey Ducharme with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service drives bison toward the monitoring station during the annual roundup at the National Bison Range on Monday morning. In recent years, motorized vehicles have replaced horseback riders. (LINDA THOMPSON/Missoulian)

Members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes took part in the annual roundup at the National Bison Range yesterday, despite an ongoing court battle over range management. Vince Devlin of the Missoulian has the story:

MOIESE – Bison thundered through a driving rain and down a hillside here Monday morning, their hoof beats indicating that no matter what happens in courtrooms a continent away, the annual October roundup at the National Bison Range will go on.

This one did so with the help of half a dozen people who lost their jobs at the National Wildlife Refuge less than a week ago because of a judicial decision.

Six Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes employees were among the 25 or so people working to round up the animals, collect biological data and monitor the health of the herd.

Except on Monday, they weren’t CSKT employees. They became “emergency U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hires” who returned at the request of the agency, and with the knowledge of the District of Columbia Court that last week effectively terminated their jobs by rescinding a federal agreement with the tribes.

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For awhile, it seemed as though the controversy a pact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to share management of the National Bison Range in Montana with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had died down. Sadly, that’s not the case – and tribal jobs could be lost in the process. Vince Devlin of the Missoulian has the story:

Volunteer cowboys drive a group of the herd into a corral during the 2006 bison roundup at the National Bison Range in Moiese, Mont. This year's roundup is scheduled to take place next week amid renewed controversy over management of the range. (Photo by Linda Thompson/Missoulian)

Volunteer cowboys drive a group of the herd into a corral during the 2006 bison roundup at the National Bison Range in Moiese, Mont. This year's roundup is scheduled to take place next week amid renewed controversy over management of the range, now shared by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. (Photo by Linda Thompson/Missoulian)

MOIESE – The smoldering dispute over the National Bison Range re-erupted in a Washington, D.C., federal courtroom Tuesday.

There, a judge rescinded a funding agreement between the Department of Interior and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, just days before the annual roundup on the Bison Range is scheduled to take place.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling appears to put approximately 10 CSKT employees out of work at the National Wildlife Refuge, probably as early as Wednesday.

The judge said that the Department of Interior violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it entered into a second funding agreement with the tribes more than two years ago, by failing to formally invoke a NEPA-required “categorical exclusion” for the newest pact.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which brought the lawsuit, heralded the judge’s decision and called on Interior to rapidly return U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel to the Bison Range jobs.

“We expect the government to act quickly to put Fish and Wildlife Service staff back in place to repair the ongoing damage to the Bison Range,” said Paula Dinerstein, senior counsel for PEER.

PEER has long alleged workers employed by the tribes at the Bison Range have failed to do their jobs properly, and reiterated that again Tuesday. In a news release from spokeswoman Kristin Stade, the organization said that "Among the issues the court found were improperly overlooked were inadequate care and feeding of the bison and a host of critical tasks left undone or improperly performed."

***

That analysis did not sit well with the tribes, which have vehemently denied PEER's allegations over the years.

"Our political opponents have taken this opportunity to smear the name of the tribes once again," CSKT spokesman Rob McDonald said. "The judge made her decision based on an environmental procedural rule regarding federal actions. The tribes didn't invite the problems that the judge responded to."

The court, McDonald also noted, "did not prohibit or discourage these types of partnerships."

PEER has vigorously opposed the partnership at the century-old Bison Range for years, arguing it sets a precedent that could leave 80 percent of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and 57 national parks in 19 states, under similar agreements with other Indian tribes.

"The Interior Department should go back to the drawing board rather than try to resurrect this flawed agreement," Dinerstein said. "For these tribal-federal agreements we need a model agreement that protects core resources and the integrity of our national parks and refuges. The Bison Range experience underlines the flaws of an ad hoc approach to what requires a national strategy."

A host of Fish and Wildlife personnel, including Bison Range manager Jeff King, referred questions from the Missoulian about Kollar-Kotelly's ruling to the U.S. Justice Department.

There, spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle issued a one-sentence statement.

"We're still reviewing the court's decision," it said, "and consulting internally within the Justice Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine the practical ramifications of this decision."

King did answer one question, however. As of Tuesday afternoon, he said, the annual bison roundup scheduled for next week is still a go, with a final decision likely to be reached on Wednesday.

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CSKT chairman E.T. "Bud" Moran said the tribes will also decide what course to take in the wake of Kollar-Kotelly's 37-page ruling.

"We are extremely disappointed with the decision," Moran said, "and will be exploring our options, along with the (Fish and Wildlife) Service. We want to avoid another disruptive de-staffing at the Bison Range."

The last time the plug was pulled on a funding agreement, in 2006, it was the Fish and Wildlife Service that did the pulling amid heated allegations from both sides. FWS employees charged they were harassed by CSKT, while the tribes accused the Fish and Wildlife Service of sabotaging their work in an effort to protect federal jobs.

The Department of Interior, which oversees the FWS, then stepped in and ordered the new funding agreement, which has been in place since 2008.

"The past 18 months have been a great success story of a true partnership on the ground," McDonald said. "We ultimately expect this to keep going forward."

PEER brought the lawsuit on behalf of four former Bison Range managers, a former chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a former assistant Interior secretary, and a Bison Range employee whose job was displaced.

PEER continues to assert in its news releases that the latest funding agreement had ceded control of the Bison Range to the Indian tribes, even though the refuge remained a part of the National Wildlife System and under control of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

King, the manager, is an FWS employee, as is one of the two deputy managers.

Tribal jobs lost in Tuesday's ruling include the other deputy manager, biologists, maintenance workers and Bison Range staff.

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The new 23,000-square-foot Tribal Health Clinic replaces the former 1,800-square-foot building. (Linda Thompson/Missoulian)

The new 23,000-square-foot Tribal Health Clinic replaces the former 1,800-square-foot building. (Linda Thompson/Missoulian)

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana held an open house yesterday to show off their new clinic.

The new one took a log longer to tour than the old one.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Health Department Director Kevin Howlett. (LINDA THOMPSON/Missoulian)

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Health Department Director Kevin Howlett. (LINDA THOMPSON/Missoulian)

“You could fit the old building in the waiting room of this one,” Kevin Howlett, director of CSKT’s Health Department, tells the Missoulian’s Vince Devlin.

The new Tribal Health Clinic’s 23,000 square feet is spread among three stories. The old clinic was a mere 1,800 square feet.

Where once the tribes offered a pharmacy and some dental services, they now can provide dental services and full outpatient medical services, including X-ray machines and exam rooms, a physical therapy department, an optometrist and mobile MRI and mammography equipment.

“This facility is more than just a building,” Howlett tells Devlin. “It’s a statement to the enduring confidence we have as a tribe in working toward our own destiny. Health care is a critical part of that.”


Gwen Florio

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