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Senate committee delays action on Blackfeet Nation water rights






Indianz.Com SoundCloud: Senate Indian Affairs Committee Business Meeting to Consider S. 1879

A bill to settle the water rights of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana was pulled from consideration by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

S.1125, the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act, was on the agenda for a business meeting this afternoon. But Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) said they needed more time to address some outstanding concerns.

"It's a bill that is critically important to the Blackfeet people and, quite frankly, to all of Montana," said Tester. "Nonetheless, there are some issues with this bill."


A sign at Birch Creek on the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. Photo by Athena C / Pinterest

More specifically, Tester cited concerns about a provision of the settlement affecting Birch Creek, which runs along the southern border of the reservation. He hopes to bring the bill back for a markup in January following further discussions back in Montana.

"In the spirit of measure twice and cut once, it's just best that we have a little more time to sort out some issues so when we come back for a markup in January, we'll be ready to go," added Daines.

The tribe finalized the settlement at the state level in 2009. Getting it approved on Capitol Hill has proven tougher due to concerns about the costs imposed on the federal government.

Committee Notice:
Business Meeting to Consider S. 1879 (December 2, 2015)

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