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Arlee district meeting touches on many topics

By Lailani Upham

Fyant’s guiding presence throughout the meeting was both comfortable and informative, says an attendee. Another stated the need to stand behind her efforts as a must, and added they are anxious to see what else transpires with her leadership. (Courtesy photo)Fyant’s guiding presence throughout the meeting was both comfortable and informative, says an attendee. Another stated the need to stand behind her efforts as a must, and added they are anxious to see what else transpires with her leadership. (Courtesy photo)

ARLEE — The first Arlee District meeting had a large turn out of people. The joining of community members were offered information and discussion panels - topped off with homemade stew and frybread this past Sunday.

Nearly 90 attended.

“I was very pleased at the turnout at my first District meeting. Some of the feedback I got was the meeting, ‘was long overdue,’ ‘very informative’ and that my ‘expectations were having a positive effect,’” stated Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council Arlee Representative Shelly Fyant.

CSKT Tribal Representatives James “Bing” Matt (Arlee), Representative Carole Lankford (Ronan), and Representative Patty Stevens (St. Ignatius) were present for the four-hour gathering.

Agenda topics included: Workforce Development survey; Affordable Healthcare Act insurance options; Cobell Land Buy Back program; BPA land acquisition; and Energy Keepers, Inc.

The Workforce Development survey is an exploration tool developed through the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research to identify training needs and a way to sponsor the training needed in the areas identified.

According to CSKT Economic Development staff Becca Hendrickx and Janet Camel the survey will be sent out to all tribal members between the ages 18 to 60. The study is funded through a three-year ANA (Administration for Native Americans) grant.

Gary Neumann of the Montana Health Co-op discussed new policies under Obama Care and how it will affect Native. Attendees were urged to sign up with options of resources to go about it. CSKT Tribal Health offers to help with the process and to answer questions on what is best for each individual and family. Applications must be filed before the March deadline. (Courtesy photo)Gary Neumann of the Montana Health Co-op discussed new policies under Obama Care and how it will affect Native. Attendees were urged to sign up with options of resources to go about it. CSKT Tribal Health offers to help with the process and to answer questions on what is best for each individual and family. Applications must be filed before the March deadline. (Courtesy photo)

CSKT Tribal Health Director Kevin Howlett, gave an overview of the options for the Affordable Care Act. Howlett explained the coverage of Indian Health Service and Tribal Health. (For more information on Affordable Healthcare Act, see Char-Koosta article, “Breaking Good: Obamacare in Indian Country” B.L. Azure; Oct. 3,2013.)

The Cobell Land Buy Back Program was broken down by Teresa Wall-McDonald, CloAnne Westerman, Tara Irvine and Anita Matt and questions were answered. (For detailed information on the Land Buy Back program, see Char-Koosta article, “Interior announces next cooperative agreements under Land Buy-Back Program for tribal nations;” February 6, 2014.

The next presentation will be at the Elmo/Polson District meeting hosted by CSKT Elmo Representative Len Two Teeth; and CSKT Polson Representative Vernon Finley at noon on Sunday, February 23 at the Elmo Community Center. Also, on Sunday, February 23 CSKT Representatives Patty Stevens and Ron Trahan will be hosting a meeting at the St. Ignatius Community Center at 3 p.m.

On Wednesday, February 26 at 6:30 p.m., a meeting at the Ronan Senior Citizens' Center will be held by CSKT Representative Carole Lankford and Lloyd Irvine.

CSKT Tribal Lands staff will be holding public information meetings at the CSKT Tribal Council chambers at 1:30 p.m. on February 12, 19, and 26.

Other agenda item included informing the attendees on the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) land acquisition.

Energy Keepers, Inc., CEO Brian Lipscomb discussed the bid that has been placed recently and the final stages of going forward to purchase the dam. According to an attendee, it was good to hear positive feedback going in both directions and much of the discussion was clear. (Courtesy photo)Energy Keepers, Inc., CEO Brian Lipscomb discussed the bid that has been placed recently and the final stages of going forward to purchase the dam. According to an attendee, it was good to hear positive feedback going in both directions and much of the discussion was clear. (Courtesy photo)

BPA operates Hungry Horse Dam on the South Fork of the Flathead River. This hydropower facility has negatively affected fish and wildlife since its construction in 1953. BPA is responsible for mitigating for those impacts under the Northwest Power Planning Act. Reference documents for these projects are available online at http://www.cskt.org/tr/fwrc.htm.

Last year, CSKT Natural Resources reported the Tribes have been awarded and expended $51 million to specifically mitigate fish and wildlife impacts by acquiring land for the Tribal membership. This unique opportunity has greatly benefited the Tribes in achieving their vision for land ownership and natural resource management on the Reservation. These lands are purchased to replace fish and wildlife habitat and enhance fish and wildlife production that has been eliminated due to hydropower development and mining activities either on the Flathead Indian Reservation or within the Tribes’ aboriginal territory.

According to Fyant, following this discussion Wall-McDonald along with Les Everts and Lynn DuCharme of the CSKT Natural Resource Department met with the Jocko Stock Association regarding range for their cattle.

“This is of particular importance to me, as this group (NDN Cattlemen) have not had a Council advocate for some time. I was raised in this lifestyle and want to support the Indian cattle producers to ‘save’ and perpetuate this way of life. It is one of the most sustainable ways of life and one I believe the Tribes should encourage, given the genetically modified food and environmental issues we are faced with today,” stated Fyant.

Energy Keepers CEO, Brian Lipscomb presented on the state of arbitration, which is currently awaiting panel decision and the condition of the project structures, equipment and systems, the costs that include: conveyance, operations, capital improvement, land payment and per capita.

Council member Patty Stevens talks with her sister Kim Swaney while Shelly Fyant jots down notes at last Sunday's Arlee District Meeting. (courtesy photo)Council member Patty Stevens talks with her sister Kim Swaney while Shelly Fyant jots down notes at last Sunday's Arlee District Meeting. (courtesy photo)

Fyant stated she also took the time to acknowledge and answer questions from The People’s Action group and other audience members on a variety of concerns.

She also touched on initiatives CSKT is pushing forward involving the meth and substance abuse problem plaguing the Reservation community. “There is a workforce group being advertised. We recently took action to not support families with motels, food, or gas to those parents that test positive for illicit drugs. Our intent was for those adults to have consequences. It’s not that we don’t care.”

Fyant added that the Arlee community would also be receiving recycling bins in the near future though the CSKT Natural Resource Department.

“After six weeks into my job, I’m enjoying it. I hold office hours at the Community Center on Fridays and folks can be assured to meet with me by making appointments.”

Fyant added that making appointments would assure a concern would be heard as she is usually making her rounds in the Arlee community.

“Last Friday I was out visiting my youngest constituents at the Nkwusm and distributing posters regarding the meeting.”

She says if she doesn’t know the answer to members’ questions, she will be sure to find out. “I am available to discuss issues, or bring concerns forward to Council, or bring presenters to the community of Arlee – we don’t have to wait until my next District meeting or the next quarterly.

Fyant’s office is located in the Community Center and appointments can be made with her by calling (406) 546-5633; or email shelly.fyant@cskt.org.

The next Arlee District meeting is scheduled for Mid-May.

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