Membership speaks at district meeting
Vernon Finley (L), Tribal Councilman and Polson District Representative, and Len TwoTeeth (R), Tribal Council Treasurer and Elmo District Representative, laugh during a lighter moment at the district meeting on June 9. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
By Adriana Fehrs
POLSON — Tribal Councilpersons Vernon Finley and Len Two Teeth hosted a combined Elmo and Polson district meeting on June 9 at the KwaTuqNuk. Important issues like the water compact, the acquisition of the Kerr Dam, and the upcoming Secretarial Election were the hot topics of the night.
Rhonda Swaney, CSKT Attorney, informs the crowd at the Polson-Elmo District meeting about issues surrounding the water compact. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
CSKT Legal Department – Water Compact
Rhonda Swaney, Tribal Attorney, spoke about issues surrounding the water compact. Future water consumption has been a concern for non-tribal ranchers and farmers living on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Swaney explained that the compact would not change the quantity of available water for individuals living on the reservation. She explains that the water compact will benefit individuals living in the area. “Everyone that fishes, benefits.” When asked if the Flathead Joint Board of Control, or the State of Montana measures the water quantity on the reservation, Swaney replied, “The tribe is the only entity to measures water. We have information on ground water, and running water, and the tribe has quantified its water usage.”
Anita Dupuis voiced her concern about the secretarial election at the Polson-Elmo district meeting. Dupuis explained that the wording in the proposed amendment was misleading, and contained typos. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
George DuCharme, BIA Election Board Member and CSKT Land Titles and Records Program Manager, spoke next about the upcoming secretarial election. The new tribal constitutional amendment provides a way for tribal members to remove a councilmember from office. DuCharme apologized for the typos in proposed amendment in the voter’s pamphlet, which was mailed out to tribal members. Anita Dupuis voiced her concern that allegedly, that the language in the proposed amendment was confusing, and misleading. “This is illegal,” she said. DuCharme explained that the language in the amendment is the same used in the original petition, and cannot be changed. “It is not meant to be deceiving, or confusing.” He asked the individuals to “not be scared off by the wording.”
Rhonda Swaney stated mentioned that many other tribes also have these recall amendments.
Margaret “Muggs” Friedlander gives a stern lecture to at the Polson-Elmo district meeting. During the discussion on the water compact, Friedlander says, “Why are we fighting the state? This is ridiculous, it’s our water.” (Adriana Fehrs photo)
Cobell Land Buy Back
CloAnn Westerman and Anita Matt from the Tribal Lands Department spoke about the Cobell Land Buy Back. Currently, the appeals are done and individuals are receiving their payments, but they are still facing some problems.
Over 30,000 class members whose whereabouts are unknown have not received their Cobell payments for the mismanagement of their IIM accounts. Westerman and Matt explain that in five years, those checks will be put into the tribal education fund.
The Cobell Land Buy Back starting in 2012. The last appraisals will be done in two to three weeks Westerman and Matt estimate. In whole, they have about $7.3 to distribute to tribal landowners; checks could be distributed by August.
George DuCharme, BIA Election Board member and CSKT Land Titles and Records Program Manager, discussed the upcoming Secretarial Election at combined Polson-Elmo district meeting on June 9. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
Energy Keepers Inc.
Brian Lipscomb, Energy Keepers Incorporated CEO, talked about the Kerr Dam acquisition. “We have 453 days left,” he said. The official purchase of the dam will take place in September 2015. Lipscomb mentioned that North Western Energy is showing interest in purchasing Kerr Dam as well. If the tribe owns the dam, Lipscomb says, “Kerr generates about 1.1 million megawatt hours of electricity on average per year. The current market price we project when we take over is about $32 per megawatt hour.”