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
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Lakota Country Times: New food bank on Pine Ridge Reservation (9/2)
Native Sun News Editorial: Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton (9/2)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux Tribe needs to establish 'virtual' school (9/2)
Steven Newcomb: The religious basis of Doctrine of Discovery (9/2)
Carly McIntosh: Feeling love from elders at naming ceremony (9/2)
Lakota Country Times: Not guilty verdict after Lakota 57 trial (9/1)
President Obama meets Native leaders after landing in Alaska (9/1)
Rhonda Pitka: Alaska Natives put priority on subsistence rights (9/1)
Transcript: Obama remarks following Native leaders roundtable (9/1)
94-year-old Alaska Native elder greets Obama with Denali song (9/1)
Politicians in Ohio oppose return of Alaska Native name for peak (9/1)
Passamaquoddy Tribe takes a step toward marijuana cultivation (9/1)
Center for Native American Youth seeks new executive director (9/1)
Supreme Court takes up petition in Kialegee Tribal Town dispute (9/1)
NCAI pushes for court rehearing in tribal labor sovereignty case (9/1)
Education Department awards $50.4M in grants to tribal colleges (9/1)
Native Sun News: Teens attacked on Rosebud Sioux Reservation (9/1)
Clara Caufield: Cheyenne brothers and sisters share language (9/1)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Shutting down a new generation of hate (9/1)
Jennifer Fielder: Tribes struggling to break free from bondage (9/1)
Brian Pierson: Big decision in Seminole Tribe's taxation case (9/1)
Navajo Nation hires firm to pursue Gold King Mine spill lawsuit (9/1)
Young tribal members cited for wild rice harvest in Minnesota (9/1)
Lake named for war secretary who pushed for removal of tribes (9/1)
Tribal college students participate in NASA challenge in Virginia (9/1)
La Jolla Band welcomes visitors to longest zip line in California (9/1)
Chukchansi Tribe still aiming for reopening of casino this month (9/1)
Cherokee Nation contributed $11M to upgrade road near casino (9/1)
President Obama restores Alaska Native name of highest peak (8/31)
BIA announces $1.75M in grants fot tribal education programs (8/31)
Multiple Capitol Hill hearings set into disaster at Gold King Mine (8/31)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux counselor combats youth suicide (8/31)
Native Sun News: Lakota 57 parents seek counseling for incident (8/31)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: I remember I am alive and a survivor (8/31)
Mary Annette Pember: Native women betrayed in violence fight (8/31)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Blood quantum used to judge Indian people (8/31)
Sally Jewell: Native youth serve as Ambassadors for the Arctic (8/31)
Turtle Talk Poll: The enduring legacy of Supreme Court decision (8/31)
First Native woman Ashley Callingbull wins Mrs. Universe title (8/31)
Native boy lands role as son of Leonardo DiCaprio in new film (8/31)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe considers petition to legalize hemp (8/31)
Spirit Lake Nation declares state of emergency to fight drugs (8/31)
Mississippi Choctaws pick Phyllis Anderson as chief once again (8/31)
Former Pokagon Band leader to leave Michigan civil rights post (8/31)
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.