Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

September 23, 2010

Governor Schweitzer continues commitment to state-tribal relationship

By Lailani Upham

Governor Brian Schweitzer and his wife Nancy pose for a group picture with the CSKT Council members. L to R: Jimmy Malatare, Carole Lankford, Joe Durglo, E.T. "Bud" Moran, Montana's First Lady, Nancy Schweitzer, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Steve Lozar, Mike Kenmille, and Charlie Morigeau. The Governor stopped by Thursday, September 9, to touch base and listen directly to tribal concerns. The governor spoke of the filters that are in D.C. when it comes to hearing tribal issues; it's always a good thing to come by and hear first-hand, he said. The Council expressed gratitude to Gov. Schweitzer for his visit and effort to work together with the Tribes. (Lailani Upham photo)
Governor Brian Schweitzer and his wife Nancy pose for a group picture with the CSKT Council members. L to R: Jimmy Malatare, Carole Lankford, Joe Durglo, E.T. "Bud" Moran, Montana's First Lady, Nancy Schweitzer, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Steve Lozar, Mike Kenmille, and Charlie Morigeau. The Governor stopped by Thursday, September 9, to touch base and listen directly to tribal concerns. The governor spoke of the filters that are in D.C. when it comes to hearing tribal issues; it's always a good thing to come by and hear first-hand, he said. The Council expressed gratitude to Gov. Schweitzer for his visit and effort to work together with the Tribes. (Lailani Upham photo)

PABLO Not quite a week after Governor Schweitzer and his wife Nancy made a visit to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council chambers, the Governor released a 2010 Tribal Relations Report highlighting the State of Montana and Tribal Nations' major efforts to work together during this past fiscal year.

"This report demonstrates the State of Montana's commitment to sincere and meaningful state-tribal relationships," Governor Schweitzer said. "We look forward to continuing these historic efforts and strengthening the government-to-government relationship."

During Gov. Schweitzer's visit to Flathead last week, he mentioned to the Tribal Council that there are too many filters when it comes to listening to tribal issues in Washington D.C. He said it would be good to get some of the leaders to come back to the reservations to hear first hand what the issues are.

Ronan Representative Carole Lankford immediately greeted the Governor and his wife, welcoming them to the tribal council meeting.

Arlee Representative James Steele, Jr. offered kudos to the Governor for the efforts toward the Little Shell process of becoming federally recognized tribe in the state of Montana. Steele said, although it was in a preliminary state, the process looked optimistic. Governor Schweitzer stated in an article in the Great Falls Tribune back in March, said, when asked whether the state of Montana would recognize the Little Shell tribal government, Schweitzer replied, "The Little Shell are recognized as a sovereign tribe by the state, and they occupy a dignified and central place in the history of Montana and the Northern Plains." The statement continues, "The Governor's Office believes that the Little Shell, as a sovereign tribe, can and must resolve its internal differences without interference from state government."

After the welcoming, Chairman E.T. "Bud" Moran opened the floor up to comments from the audience. DHRD Director, Arlene Templer was the first to thank the Governor for funding received for the DHRD transportation to build shelters for bus stops and purchase new busses for a larger clientele on the reservation.

CSKT Tribal Attorney John Harrison thanked the Governor and the Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks for working with the Tribes on bison hunting rights in Yellowstone. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Montana and the Nez Perce of Idaho have federal treaty rights allowing them to hunt off their reservations. Montana acknowledges the rights of the Nez Perce and the Salish-Kootenai to hunt according to the provisions of their treaties. The treaty language allows tribal members to hunt only on "open and unclaimed" land, which land managers and tribes have agreed means national forest and Bureau of Land Management lands. Tribal game wardens travel to the Yellowstone area to enforce those rules.

In response to the bison issue the Governor assured the Tribes that the legal position and historical rights for the Tribes are to remain respected.

The recent Tribal Report states many activities and contributions of American Indian appointees who share their expertise as members of the boards, councils and commissions. The members' active participation expands the ability to reach all of Montana.

According to the Report, there were more than 650 cooperative agreements, trainings, projects and collaborative efforts in effect between the state and the eight tribal governments in Montana during fiscal year 2010, covering every aspect of governmental operations, including economic development; the delivery of human services; environmental stewardship; cooperation on finance and justice issues; and education.

This year's report is a result of a 2003 state law sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy.

The full text of the report is available online at http://tribalnations.mt.gov.

Correction: In the printed edition, Polson District Council Steve Lozar was not identified in the image. We apologize for the oversight.

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