Char-Koosta News

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Concerns and questions raised at Quarterly Meeting

By Alyssa Nenemay

This second half of last week's quarterly coverage.

Following a break and an honor song from Yamncut, public comment was on the agenda at the October Quarterly meeting.

Pat Pierre

Tribal elder Pat Pierre discussed tribal values at the quarterly meeting. (Alyssa Nenemay photo) Tribal elder Pat Pierre discussed tribal values at the quarterly meeting. (Alyssa Nenemay photo)

Tribal elder Pat Pierre initiated the string of comments with some words on respect. “There is a law that’s not written and we live by it every day. That law is there, and it’s established. Everything that we do must be in respect. We can’t respect others until we respect ourselves,” he said.

Pierre also spoke on the importance of identity: “Indian people are Indian people and there’s nothing that can change that. We are who we are. No matter how educated you get you’re an Indian. You were born that way and you’ll die that way. Use your education to help your people,” he said.

One of the last fluent Salish speakers on the Flathead Reservation, Pierre is a Salish language instructor at NÂusm immersion school. He encouraged the community to learn their tribal culture and language. “Some of you speak the language and you know the wisdom and power that it holds. The language and culture will be the salvation of this tribe. I hope you heard it: The language and the culture will be salvation of this tribe,” he said.

Pierre faired a warning for abandoning the indigenous way of life: “We never know what the government is going to do. One day they could come and say: ‘Do you know your language?’ No. ‘Do you know your culture?’ No. They could very easily say: ‘You have no reason to be considered a sovereign nation. You are just like everyone else,’” he said.

Pierre encouraged unity in solving political issues within the tribe. “There are some people who want to take up arms and destroy our government, we shouldn’t do that. A nation divided shall not stand. We should be helping our tribal council make decisions. They need us,” he said.

In closing, Pierre touched on individual contributions to the whole: “We need to work hard for the generations yet to come so that they too can enjoy the rivers, creeks, and mountains. We need to leave them something good to live with. Each and every one of us has the responsibility to improve our tribe and we need to work together to do it,” he said.

Members of The People’s Voice interrupted Pierre as his speech drew to an end and there was an altercation between the two.

Stephen Small Salmon
Tribal elder Stephen Small Salmon was next to address the crowd speaking only Salish. Small Salmon talked about the Salazar settlement funds received by the tribes noting that when there was no money no one came to tribal meetings and now that there is money, everyone is there. He said he was sad for his people and didn’t understand why they were fighting over the money.

Small Salmon said he remembered the old days when everyone spoke Salish. They still had the medicine dances and hunted across the river. Life was good. He said in those days people would be punished for talking to elders in a bad manner. He couldn’t believe how Pat Pierre was spoken to. He said now days, people get a college degree and think they don’t have to have respect for anyone.

Small Salmon left his speech on a comical note recalling when he ran for tribal council and he didn’t get a single vote. “Even Mickey Mouse won over me! I didn’t vote for myself and I ended up not getting one vote,” he said.

Ethan Friedlander
Ethan Friedlander has been working towards building a skating rink in Pablo. Friedlander said he is driven to succeed by the “dismal living conditions” on the reservation including the lack of recreation and health issues like obesity or substance abuse.

Still in the fundraising process, Firedlander discussed the difficulties he has been experiencing along the way. “I’ve encountered problems that conflict with reality. I have been being resourceful this past year and I hope it will open up opportunities. It’s a slow process and it’s got to be self-driven,” he said.

Friedlander discussed the need for more tribally owned businesses: “There aren’t many tribally owned businesses. If there were, we could be more self-sufficient; we could be dependent on one another. We have resources here and we could work with other tribes. I don’t know why it’s not happening for us,” he said.

Friedlander said it has been difficult getting donations. He has been hosting fundraisers including a Bar-BQ benefit, a pinnacle tournament, and an upcoming comedy show. For more information call (406) 493-7342

Land Mitigation in Kalispell
Friedlander shared his concerns regarding the Tribes donating 147 acres along the Flathead River in Kalispell to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Friedlander said the area had cultural significance:

“The Kootenais camped in that area until the 60’s because they were still nomadic. They were still circulating and living that traditional way of life. Then in the 60’s they were pretty much forced to come to the nearest reservation of what band they came from,” he said.

Lynn DuCharme of the CS&KT Natural Resources Department has been working on the project for several years and was asked to provide more information. DuCharme said that the Tribes and FWP had access to similar but separate mitigation funding from the federal non-profit agency Bonneville Power Administration. The funding serves as credit for the loss of fish habitat that resulted from the construction of Hungry Horse Dam on the South Fork and Flathead Rivers.

DuCharme said that in 2012, the FWP reserved a portion of its Bonneville funding to assist the Tribes in purchasing 400 acres along Woodward Creek, which is located in the Flathead National Forest. According to a 2012 Environmental Clearance Memorandum, the land was purchased for “cultural resources protection, habitat preservation, and wildlife management.”

In restitution for the assistance of the 2012 land purchase, CS&KT is reserving a portion of its 2013 Bonneville funding to assist FWP in purchasing the 147-acre parcel that will be renamed the “Otter Island Fisheries Conservation Area.”

According to a 2010 Environmental Clearance the land has 3,340 feet of frontage on the main channel of the Flathead River and is “home to native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout that would benefit from riparian and stream bank protection.” Once turned over FWP, the parcel will be open for public recreation and managed as a conservation area.

Although the 2013 Environmental Assessment draft, described the land transfer as a “donation,” DuCharme said the wording is inaccurate: “It’s not a donation at all, we’re actually just giving them back a similar monetary interest,” she said.

For more information visit: fwp.mt.gov.

See related article by clicking here.

Energy Keepers Inc.
There was an array of questions regarding Energy Keepers Inc. from several meeting goers including Brit Salois, Laurence Kenmille, and Jeri Roullier. The following are the questions and answers:

Brit Salois
Q: Did tribal council appoint themselves as the shareholders of Energy Keepers Inc. and did they receive bonuses?
A: Tribal council acts as the “shareholder’s representatives,” the membership are the shareholders. Tribal Council did note receive bonuses.

Q: Why did the Energy Keepers Inc. charter not go up for secretarial election?
A: Energy Keepers Inc. was formed under Section 17 of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), which in its original 1933 form stated: “The secretary of Interior may, upon petition by at least one-third of adult Indians, issue a charter of incorporation to such tribe: Provided, that such charter shall not become operative until ratified at a special election by a majority vote of the adult Indians living on the reservation.”

In 1990, the section was amended under Pub. L. 101-301 and now states: “The Secretary of the Interior may, upon petition by any tribe, issue a charter of incorporation to such tribe: Provided, That such charter shall not become operative until ratified by the governing body of such tribe.”

Energy Keepers Inc. CEO Brian Lipscomb said that tribal governments have options when filing its corporations under tribal, state, or federal law. After analyzing each option, tribal council chose to file as a fiscally chartered corporation because it offers tax protection on earnings and legal immunity for the tribal government. Liability will be under the corporation.

Laurence Kenmille:
Q: Will PPL Montana’s recent $900 million deal to sell its assets (including Kerr Dam) to Northwestern Energy affect the tribes’ arbitration and plans to takeover the dam in 2015?
A: Lipscomb said the deal does not affect the tribes’ arbitration because the facility’s lease requirements will transfer. The Tribes will continue negotiations with Northwestern Energy and the sale will take place before the Tribes’ purchase the facilities.

Stephen Small Salmon
Q: When the Tribes takeover the dam, will tribal members receive free electricity as promised during its 1930’s establishment?
A: No. Lipscomb said Energy Keepers Inc. will be an independent power producer and it will be providing electricity on a wholesale market to generate revenue for the tribes. Currently, Mission Valley Power buys its power from the Bonneville Power Administration for below market federal rates. If Energy Keepers Inc. provided energy to Mission Valley Power to provide for the reservation, it wouldn’t generate the maximum possible revenue.

Jeri Roullier
Q: If the deal falls through, what becomes of the $300 million the tribes planned to invest?
A: The deal will not fall through it is part of the facility’s lease.

Q: Did Energy Keepers Inc. employees receive $20,000 bonuses?
A: There were no bonuses. Three senior managers were put on an “at-risk compensation” plan meaning their salaries were split into two parts: fixed and at risk. The first part of their income was fixed and received immediately. In order to receive the remainder of their “at risk” income, the manager was required to full-fill outlined tasks within a certain time frame. All three received their entire compensation.

Q: How much did the tribes pay for renovations to the office buildings located above the Salish lounge in Polson, which is where Energy Keepers Inc. is located?
A: Lipscomb said CS&KT did not pay for renovations. The owner renovated the building before the lease was established.

For more information visit www.energykeepersinc.com

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