Cedric Black Eagle: Water settlement is 'historic' for Crow Tribe
"I have been involved in the Crow Water Rights Settlement Act from the time of its inception, when the tribe began negotiations with the state of Montana, resulting in the Crow Tribe – State of Montana Water Rights Compact, ratified by the Montana Legislature in 1999. Today, 13 years later, I am blessed to serve as chairman of the Great Crow Nation when we have completed negotiations with the federal government and we, the Crow people have the final say in the outcome of this effort. I want to thank the Crow tribal members who have served as part of the negotiating team through the years for their efforts and dedication. The Crow people now have an unprecedented opportunity to accept a settlement that has been fully ratified by Congress and signed by the President of the United States.

The Crow – Montana Water Rights Compact secures the Crow Tribe’s rights to water. Currently, we have claims for water, which are not enforceable until they have been adjudicated and decreed – a process that can span many decades and which has proven costly and unpredictable for other tribes. The compact sets out a water right for the Crow Tribe and also establishes that the tribe and its members will have jurisdiction over distribution of our water. Tribal members will not be forced into state court to assert claims for water. The compact secures to the tribe 500,000 acre feet per year of the natural flow of the Big Horn River, and up to 300,000 acre feet of storage rights in Yellowtail Lake. It secures the natural flow and groundwater in all other basins on the Crow Reservation to the Crow Tribe and its members, while recognizing state uses that were in place as of 1999.

Our team – comprised of many individuals over the years – has worked hard to ensure that the federal component of this settlement provides meaningful benefits to all members of our community. All tribal members living on the Crow Reservation will benefit from access to safe, clean water. Access to water is taken for granted by many in our nation. Residents of the Crow Reservation currently cannot depend on the safety of the water supply in our communities. The water is often unfit to consume or bathe your children in. This will change with the ratification of the Crow Water Rights Settlement Act. We will receive funding for a municipal rural and industrial water system, including a treatment plant and pipeline construction to each community on the Crow Reservation."

Get the Story:
Cedric Black Eagle: A historic day for Crow water rights (Indian Country Today 12/10)

Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2009:
H.R. 3563 | S.375

Related Stories:
Crow Tribe to celebrate settlement of water rights at NMAI in DC (12/10)
Claims Settlement Act authorizes $460M Crow water settlement (12/1)
Senate passes water rights settlements for tribes in three states (11/22)
Letter: Members of Crow Tribe should vote against water rights (10/6)
Crow Chairman: Water settlement in tribe's best interests (4/2)
Opinion: Water bill hurts landowners on Crow Reservation (3/29)
Crow Tribe's water rights settlement advances (9/11)
Crow Tribe near deal on water rights settlement (08/03)