Leaders of the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas. Photo: Kickapoo Tribal Council

Kickapoo Tribe reaches settlement in long-running water dispute

The Kickapoo Tribe is making history in Kansas.

The tribe has reached a settlement to resolve a dispute that has simmered for more than 40 years. The deal clears the path for a reliable source of water on the reservation.

"This agreement secures the Kickapoo Tribe's long-term viability, for without water, we cannot survive as a tribe or community," Chairman Lester Randall said in a press release.

The reservation is currently served by a water plant that is aging and inadequate. Drought conditions have made the situation worse and the tribe has frequently imposed restrictions on usage over the years.

The construction of the Plum Creek Project, a water storage project, will alleviate those woes. Just as important, the settlement will quantify the tribe's water rights to the Delaware River watershed, which serves the reservation.

The Native American Rights Fund has been assisting the tribe with its efforts. A lawsuit filed in 2006 led to successful negotiations with the state and the federal government, according to the non-profit.

The tribe is commemorating the agreement at an event on the reservation on Friday. The settlement will still need to be ratified by Congress in order to become effective.

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