Federal Court Dismisses Irrigation District’s Challenge to BIA Control of Flathead Irrigation Water

Here are the materials in Flathead Irrigation District v. Jewell (D. Mont.):

56 US Motion to Dismiss

58 Opposition

63 Reply

76 DCT Order

Brian Upton on the Tribal Self-Governance Partnership at the National Bison Range

Brian Upton, an MSU alum, has published “Returning to a Tribal Self-Governance Partnership at the National Bison Range Complex: Historical, Legal, and Global Perspectives” (PDF) in the Public Land & Resources Law Review.

An excerpt:

The National Bison Range (Range) is an unforgettable place for many reasons. Home to its namesake bison as well as to a variety of other wildlife, it is one of the nation’s premier wildlife refuges. Established over one hundred years ago in western Montana, it was among the first such refuges in the country—predating the present-day National Wildlife Refuge System (Refuge System) of which it is now a part. The Range is further distinguished by its location in the center of the Flathead Indian Reservation (Flathead Reservation), where the spectacular scenery includes mountain ranges in every direction. The Range bison descend largely from wild bison that had been saved by members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) at a time when the animals were on the verge of extinction.


Evelyn Stevenson Walks On — Original Proponent of ICWA

Evelyn Stevenson, longtime tribal attorney, advocate and original proponent of the Indian Child Welfare Act, passed away on March 12, 2015 at 9:11am in Ronan, Montana on the Flathead Indian Reservation.  Evelyn was a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and was the second tribal member, and first tribal member woman, to become a licensed attorney.

A wake will begin at noon on Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the Elmo Community Hall in Elmo, Montana (phone number: 406.849.5505).  A rosary will begin at 8:00pm that evening.  The funeral will be held at the Elmo Community Hall on Monday, March 16th at 11:00am, followed by burial at the Ronan Cemetery.

Details on here career here.

Amerind Risk Management Corp. v. Blackfeet Housing — Complaint to Compel Arbitration

Here is the complaint in Amerind Risk Management Corp. v. Blackfeet Housing (D. N.M.):

1 Complaint



Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe set to acquire Kerr Hydroelectric Project in 2015

In September 2015, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ corporation, Energy Keepers, Inc. (EKI), plans to acquire the Kerr Hydroelectric Project. While the purchase price is still under dispute, the tribal news is publishing a series of articles to educate tribal members (and other interested parties) on the history of this deal, as well as the steps that EKI is taking to be prepared to manage this project.

According to the Char-Koosta News:

The Tribes fought hard for the right to acquire the Project when the last FERC license was issued in 1985. For several decades, this opportunity has been seen by successive Tribal Councils as a primary option for CSKT’s future economic development and self-sufficiency. Acquisition of the Kerr Project is also an important way for the Tribes to manage and reclaim natural resources that are critical to the Salish, Kootenai and Pend d’Oreille peoples of the Flathead reservation.

Today, only two years from the opportunity to own and operate the Kerr Project, EKI, the Tribally owned corporation responsible for the management of the Kerr Dam acquisition process, is in full swing– evaluating, planning and preparing for the conveyance of this major hydroelectric facility.

The first three articles in the series are available on the Char-Koosta News site:

The Twists and Turns of Acquiring Kerr Dam here.

Conveyance of Kerr Dam Continues to Move Along here.

Due Diligence on Kerr Dam: Structural Evaluation here.

This is an exciting opportunity for the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribe, and I plan to keep checking the Char-Koosta News site to see how this project is progressing.

Thanks to NG

Montana SCT Materials on Failed Challenge to Flathead Reservation Water Compact

Here are the briefs and opinion in Western Montana Water Users Assn. v. Mission Irrigation District (Mont.):


Appellant Brief

Appellee Brief

CSKT Amicus Brief

Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission Amicus

Montana Water Resources Assn Amicus

Reply Brief

News coverage here, via North Dakota Supreme Court site.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Seek to Register Sacred Site and Prevent Mining

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are attempting to list a sacred site on the National Register of Historic Places in hopes of stopping plans to mine Chicago Peak. Stories are here and here.

Case material (unsuccessful efforts to stop the mining project) referenced in the articles:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Review Material

District Court Opinion

Ninth Circuit Opinion

En Banc Ninth Circuit Panel Decides Important NEPA Intervention Case

Here is the opinion in Wilderness Society v. USFS.

And the tribal amicus brief: Tribal Amicus Brief

An excerpt:

Today we revisit our so-called  “federal defendant” rule, which categorically prohibits private parties and state and local governments from intervening of right on the merits of claims brought under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (“NEPA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321  et seq. Because the rule is at odds with the text of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) and the standards we apply in all other intervention of right cases, we abandon it here. When construing motions to intervene of right under Rule 24(a)(2), courts need no longer apply a categorical prohibition on intervention on the merits, or liability phase, of NEPA actions. To determine whether a putative intervenor demonstrates the “significantly protectable” interest necessary for intervention of right in a NEPA action, the operative inquiry should be, as in all cases, whether  “the interest is protectable under some law,” and whether “there is a relationship between the legally protected interest and the claims at issue.” Sierra Club v. EPA, 995 F.2d 1478, 1484 (9th Cir. 1993). Since the district court applied the “federal defendant” rule to prohibit intervention of right on the merits in this NEPA case, we reverse and remand so that it may reconsider the putative intervenors’ motion to intervene.