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Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes trapped in water war

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes gave up millions of gallons of water as part of an agreement with the state of Montana but opposition from non-Indians scuttled the deal.

The 1855 Treaty of Hellgate promises water on and off the Flathead Reservation for the tribe. The compact would have settled the tribe's rights and provided $55 million for upgrades to the water system on the reservation.

Non-Indian farmers and ranchers, however, weren't happy with the deal. They accused the tribe and officials who supported the compact of stealing their water.

After working on the compact for decades, the tribe now faces a long fight in the courts. That will likely be costly for all parties involved.

“Generations of misunderstanding have come to a head,” tribal spokesperson Robert McDonald told The New York Times. “It’s starting to tear the fabric of our community apart.”

Get the Story:
Water Rights Tear at an Indian Reservation (The New York Times 4/22)
Legislature doesn’t ratify CSKT water compact (The Hungry Horse News 4/20)
Supreme Court explains water compact decision (The Hungry Horse News 4/20)

Related Stories:
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes prepare for water suit (4/17)
Letter: Failure of tribal water compact leaves state in bad place (4/11)
Montana tribe weighs next move in water compact dispute (4/4)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes push water compact (03/20)

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