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CSKT flag rises over Salish Kootenai Dam for the first time

By Lailani Upham

The Mission Valley Honor guard readies the CSKT and United States flags. In its 80 year history, this is the first time the CSKT flag will fly over the Salish Kootenai Dam. (Rob McDonald photo) The Mission Valley Honor guard readies the CSKT and United States flags. In its 80 year history, this is the first time the CSKT flag will fly over the Salish Kootenai Dam. (Rob McDonald photo)

POLSON — The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ flag rose over the former Kerr dam site for the first time on Friday morning, September 4.

The flag ceremony came a morning after the tribes’ corporation, Energy Keepers Inc., paid for the dam.

The ceremony was intimate with a crowd of invited guests.

The Mission Valley Honor Guard executed the flag raising.

“It’s quite an emotional event for all of us involved,” said EKI CEO Brian Lipscomb.

Former 1984 CSKT Tribal Council Rep., Kevin Howlett, served during the renegotiation time in gaining ownership of the Kerr Project. Howlett pat current Arlee Rep. Bing Matt while former Polson District Rep. Steve Lozar shares a bear hug with Hamel. (Lailani Upham photo) Former 1984 CSKT Tribal Council Rep., Kevin Howlett, served during the renegotiation time in gaining ownership of the Kerr Project. Howlett pat current Arlee Rep. Bing Matt while former Polson District Rep. Steve Lozar shares a bear hug with Hamel. (Lailani Upham photo)

“All the sacrifices and courage it took for us to get to this place. And listening to our tribal flag song and honoring that moment when the flag went up the pole and hearing them echo and hearing those words through the canyon – was quite a moment” said Lipscomb.

Former CSKT Polson tribal representative, Steve Lozar said, “This day blesses all our tribal hearts collectively. It’s a combination of people of water that once again to rejoice and feel a true tribal baptism of water as it washes over us – and for that I am very thankful for. I am thankful for the people that has brought us this opportunity; for the tribal members that gave their lives to build this facility. And I’m mostly proud for the children that are once again going to be regenerated and rejuvenated by the water that washes over them.”

Former and current CSKT Tribal Council members present at the Flag Raising Ceremony are (L to R): Kevin Howlett, Steve Lozar, Shelly Fyant, Leonard Two Teeth, Patty Stevens, Vernon Finley, Lloyd Irvine, Jami Hamel, James Matt, Ron Trahan, and Terry Pitts. (Lailani Upham photo) Former and current CSKT Tribal Council members present at the Flag Raising Ceremony are (L to R): Kevin Howlett, Steve Lozar, Shelly Fyant, Leonard Two Teeth, Patty Stevens, Vernon Finley, Lloyd Irvine, Jami Hamel, James Matt, Ron Trahan, and Terry Pitts. (Lailani Upham photo)

Kevin Howlett an original council member who helped the tribes’ renegotiation process of the acquisition in 1985, said, “Today is a very special day in tribal history. I just hope and pray as we move forward that this dam bring prosperity and vision for our people. Not only revenue but also hope for our people. I am just honored and pleased to have been part of today’s celebration. I wish for the future council to stick to the path to being all that this can be.”

Both current CSKT tribal council members Leonard Two Teeth and Patty Stevens said they felt humbled being part of the day.

“It’s a very historic moment that our ancestors sacrificed for, said CSKT Arlee Representative Shelly Fyant.

“And we all need to remember to take that responsibility for our future generations; so I just thank them.”

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