News on Proposed State ICWA Laws

Over the past few weeks, a number of states have been considering state ICWA laws. I’m keeping the bills updated here, along with their current status when I’m notified of it.

Today the AP had news coverage of the bills here

Finally, here is a link to the testimony that took place yesterday in the Minnesota Senate.

This bill is supported by the ICWA Law Center, one of the only organizations that provides direct, trial level legal services to Native families, and they do it very well. They are currently holding a fundraiser with Heart Berry:

And listen, I’m not responsible if you follow that link and then get sucked into buying a whole bunch of stuff from Heart Berry because it’s basically impossible not to. I don’t make the rules.

Tribal Veteran Wellness Court Symposium

SAVE THE DATE: August 22-23, 2019 in Missoula, MT.

Join for this free two-day event highlighting important considerations for serving and treating Native veterans and the Wellness Court model.

Register here and visit for more information.

A limited number of scholarship are available to Healing to Wellness Court practitioners who require financial assistance.To apply for a scholarship for the Tribal Veterans Wellness Court Symposium, you must complete and submit this scholarship application, along with separately emailing a letter of recommendation to by the scholarship deadline of Friday, July 12, 2019.



CSKT 2018 Indian Child Welfare Legal Summit, September 12-13

Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes’2018 Indian Child Welfare Legal Summit

The Montana Court Improvement Program, in conjuction with CSKT, would like to invite you to this interactive training designed to improve legal knowledge, skills, and practices in relation to Indian Child Welfare. 

After opening with a case law update describing recent Montana opinions, federal court litigation, and note-worthy opinions from sister states, this CLE will provide a quick interactive refresher on the basics of tribal jurisdiction in child custody cases and the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

With this foundation in place, participants will explore topics like best practices in child welfare casesdomestic child sex traffickingtribal code enhancement, and ethics as it relates to Indian child welfare cases.  Participants will have the opportunity to break out into small affinity groups to discuss improving systems and practices across the state in order to better serve AI/AN children and families.

This two-day training is designed for tribal attorneys, tribal judges, parents’ attorneys, GALs, adoption attorneys, and state prosecutors. (Although caseworkers, CASAs, and other child welfare practitioners are welcome to join us, the focus of this training is to improve legal knowledge, skills, and practices.)  Faculty includes local and national experts, practitioners, and scholars from across the country.  An application for CLE credits will be filed.

For agenda, updates and more visit:

Summer Indian Law Program at Montana


Law students, grad students, attorneys, tribal leaders:

JOIN US for the Summer American Indian and Indigenous Law Program here at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana in beautiful Missoula. We are once again offering a unique slate of courses (for which we have also requested CLE credit) taught by some of the preeminent scholars and practitioners in our field. Topics include:

June 4-8: Indian Law Research, Prof. Stacey Gordon (ABIII School of Law, Univ. of Montana, Missoula, MT)

June 11-15: Mastering American Indian Law, Prof. Maylinn Smith (ABIII School of Law, Univ. of Montana, Missoula, MT)

June 18-22: American Indian Children and the Law, Professor Kate Fort (Michigan State University College of Law, East Lansing, MI)

June 25-29: Designing Effective Governmental Regulations, David Hindin (Director, Office of Compliance, Office of Enforcement and Compliance, USEPA, Washington D.C.)

July 2-6: Alaska Native Law and Policy, Matt Newman (Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund, Anchorage, AK)

July 9-13: Native Hawaiian Law, (Professor Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, William S. Richardson School of Law, Honolulu, HI)

July 16-20: Water Law in Indian Country, John Carter (Tribal Attorney, Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, Pablo, MT)

July 23-27: Indigenous Peoples in International Law (Professor Kristen Carpenter, University of Colorado School of Law, Boulder, CO)

The program is a great opportunity for students, attorneys, and tribal leaders to gain or feed a passion for Indian law by engaging with other outstanding students and professors in a beautiful and scenic location. Please have them check out our website: Also, please feel free to pass the website along to others who may be interested in this opportunity to spend a few weeks this summer learning with us here in Missoula.

Protest Planned for CERA Event in Montana

Link to response from Native educators here.

Link to protest announcement here.

Citizens Equal Rights Alliance is holding a regional conference in Kalispell, Montana, on September 26, 2015, to kindle local antagonism towards the Federal Government and Tribes.  Speakers include the attorney for two politicians who are suing the federal government for transfer of the, now named, Salish Kootenai Dam to the Tribes.  Protesters will meet at the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell at 1PM.




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

Gas Line Spills 25,000 Gallons on Montana Tribal Land

A Phillips 66 pipeline with a record of prior accidents spilled an estimated 25,000 gallons of gasoline in a remote area outside a small town on Montana’s Crow Indian Reservation, but no public health problems were anticipated, federal officials said Friday.

A representative of the Houston-based oil refinery and chemical company said the amount of leaked gas likely was less than initially reported, although no alternate figure was offered. The initial estimate came from a report submitted by the company to the government’s National Response Center.

Federal and tribal officials and the company worked Friday to determine what caused the break in the 8-inch underground line. It occurred about 15 miles southwest of Lodge Grass, a town of about 430 people near the Wyoming border. The same line has seen at least three spills over the past two decades.

Story here.

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