indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Deal proposed to resolve Idaho tribe's water rights
Monday, May 17, 2004

The Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho will receive $193 million in water rights, payments and other benefits under a proposed settlement to one of the longest-running water disputes in the nation.

Tribal leaders joined Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R) on Saturday to announce terms of the deal. Reached through mediation, officials said it would resolve the tribe's claim to water in the Snake River Basin.

"The process can now move forward to closure with new momentum, for the benefit of all concerned," said Anthony Johnson, chairman of the tribe's executive committee.

The settlement still requires tribal, congressional and state approval but is the closest the parties have come to resolution. Affecting more than 180,000 water users, the dispute was tying up a water rights adjudication process that has taken more than 20 years and $40 million to sort out.

Under treaties with the United States signed in 1855 and 1863, the tribe reserved the right to fish on and off the reservation. This right formed the basis of the tribe's water claim in the basin.

A judge in Idaho ruled against the claim in 1999 but after learning that the judge and his brother had a stake in the matter, the tribe sought to disqualify the judge and have all rulings thrown out. As the matter was being heard before the Idaho Supreme Court, Snake River Water Rights Adjudication Judge Barry Wood was removed from the case for unrelated reasons.

The state Supreme Court in June 2002 then ordered a refiling of all the claims, setting in motion the talks that led to the latest announcement. In October 2003, the tribe and the the other parties agreed to suspend the litigation, which could last several more years, to seek a settlement.

Under the proposed settlement, the tribe will drop all of its claims in the basin. In exchange, the tribe will receive water rights, a trust fund, payments, land and other considerations.

The agreement calls of the tribe to receive 50,000 acre-feet of water a year on the reservation. Under Idaho law, priority is assigned by date so the tribe will receive a priority date of 1855. The federal and state governments also will recognize the tribe's off-reservation access to federal and public lands that were ceded by the 1863 treaty.

The federal government will establish a $50 million multiple-use trust fund for the tribe. The tribe can use the fund to acquire land and water rights; restore and improve fish habitat; promote cultural preservation, fisheries and agricultural development; and other purposes.

The tribe would also get a water supply and sewer system on the reservation. The project is valued at $23 million.

Additionally, the U.S. will pay the tribe $10.1 million for 45,000 acre-feet of water in the Payette River. The tribe will be able to work out an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management to select $7 million worth of lands within the reservation.

Another main component of the settlement is salmon protection and habitat restoration. If approved, the federal and state government would ensure that at least 427,000 acre-feet is available to increase water flows for salmon and steelhead.

The settlement seeks a stay of the litigation until March 31, 2005. The tribe could head back to court if Congress, the state or other parties decide not to accept the arrangement.

The Native American Rights Fund, a non-profit advocacy group, represented the Nez Perce Tribe throughout the process.

Relevant Documents:
Fact Sheet | Term Sheet | Agreement Summary

Relevant Links:
Nez Perce Tribe - http://www.nezperce.org
Snake River Basin Adjudication - http://www.srba.state.id.us

Copyright 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...

Latest Headlines:

'Ominous shadow' of President Trump looms over annual meeting of tribal leaders
Senate narrowly approves budget resolution without taking up pro-tribal provisions
Native Sun News Today: Tribes decry court ruling favoring Dakota Access Pipeline
Ivan Star Comes Out: Only dictators demand for their citizens to 'respect the flag'
Decision day for National Congress of American Indians with leadership changes
House subcommittee takes up controversial American Indian Empowerment Act
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on public safety measures
Arne Vainio: I wanted you to know you are loved and that I am bringing you home
Albert Bender: Native community celebrates Indigenous Peoples' Day in Nashville
Native Sun News Today: Student speaks out about racism in South Dakota school
James Giago Davies: School fumbles historic opportunity after incident of racism
Tribes open their doors in response to devastating wildfires in northern California
National Congress of American Indians looks ahead to Tara Sweeney confirmation
Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs sign agreement for Cobell buy-back program
Alaska Native executive Tara Sweeney named to top Bureau of Indian Affairs job
Tribes slam Trump administration for adding hurdles to land-into-trust process
Native Sun News Today: Native Americans are over-represented in county's jail
Tim Giago: Clones in Congress won't stand up to the Clown in the White House
Mark Trahant: Exploring the 'business' of news in Indian Country these days
Native Sun News Today: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate debuts new grocery store
Bears Ears remains in limbo as Republicans leave tribes out of monument bill
Mark Trahant: Trump brings more chaos to health coverage for tribal citizens
YES! Magazine: Tribal hospital in Alaska brings traditional foods to patients
Native Sun News Today: Tribal leaders absent at border town liquor summit
Native Sun News Today Editorial: Teams continue to denigrate Indian people
Secretary Zinke requires special flag to be flown when he's in Interior building
Lawsuit seeks damages for death of girl at Bureau of Indian Education school
President of Northern Cheyenne Tribe remains in office after disputed removal
Republican candidate questions mural for depicting Indian people as too 'dark'
Bureau of Indian Affairs supports name change for 'Negro Bill Canyon' in Utah
Aroostook Band of Micmacs backs ballot referendum for new casino in Maine
Gun Lake Tribe secures strong local support in casino case except for one town
Second federal appeals court chimes in with decision favoring tribal homelands
Harold Frazier: Another incident of racism targets Native youth in South Dakota
Native American Voting Rights Coalition convenes second hearing in Wisconsin
Yurok Tribe welcomes introduction of bill to add important lands to reservation
YES! Magazine: Native family uses energy proceeds to benefit Indian Country
Native Sun News Today: Oglala Sioux Tribe refutes rumors of Black Hills 'sale'
James Giago Davies: A best friend sticks with us even at the very end of life
Cronkite News: Republicans quickly move bill to limit new national monuments
Raymond Hitchcock: Sorry but tribal casinos aren't linked to increases in crime
Osage Nation prepared to fight state over water rights on historic reservation
Eastern Cherokee council complete after second round of voting for one seat
Iowa Tribe announces 'Monsterous' deal linked to long-delayed poker website
Squaxin Island Tribe holds grand opening for remodeled hotel tower at casino
Judge deals tribes major setback with decision in Dakota Access Pipeline case
YES! Magazine: Winnemem Wintu Tribe struggles to bring salmon back home
Native Sun News Today: Rapid City turns out for Native American Day parade
Ivan Star Comes Out: Our teachers shouldn't be doing the jobs of the parents
Non-Indian parents file lawsuit to halt transfer of child custody cases to tribes
County in Oregon holds public hearing on name of 'Dead Indian Memorial Road'
Swinomish Tribe set to open substance abuse treatment center in Washington
All-Native band Warpath from California mixes heavy metal with tribal elements
Ramapough Lunaape Nation defends right to host prayer camp in New Jersey
Chehalis Tribe working with local authorities on fatal shooting outside casino
>>> more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.