Water Is Life
Thu, 07/28/2016 - 5:00am admin
Crow Tribe celebrates Water Rights Settlement Act
By Levi C. Flinn, Big Horn County News
July 20, 2016 marked a day of celebration commemorating the Crow Tribal Water Rights Settlement Act of 2010, which authorized around $460 million to improve the Crow Irrigation Project.
The celebration began with a private pipe ceremony, followed by several events including a 22-mile honor run, parade through Crow Agency, water rights presentation, rodeo events and public feed, before closing with a Crow-style powwow.
The Water Settlement Act provided a way to address the Crow Reservation’s need for safe drinking water and to rehabilitate the Crow Irrigation Project. The act also resolved decades of litigation and negotiations that began in 1975.
The settlement calls for the Bureau of Reclamation to plan, design and construct a Municipal, Rural and Industrial (MR&I) water system for the tribe.
“Today is a significant day for the Crow people,” said former Crow Chairman Cedric Black Eagle four years ago during the enactment. “We began negotiating the Crow-Montana Compact over a decade ago and with continued commitment by all of the parties, including the State and the United States, we were able to come together today and sign the Compact.”
“Water is life,” he continued. “This compact ensures that Crow people will have water and the necessary infrastructure for generations to come. Now the hard work continues to implement the compact and settlement legislation to ensure that Crow people realize these benefits from the settlement.”
On Dec. 8, 2010, President Barack Obama approved the Claims Resolution Act. Title IV of the act, the “Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement,” authorizes and directs the Secretary of the Interior to execute the compact.
“The Obama Administration is proud to be a party to the Crow-Montana Compact,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said during the enactment. “Signing the compact today demonstrates the administration’s continued commitment to resolving Indian water rights and providing settlements that truly benefit Indian tribes.”
Together, the settlement act and the compact quantify the tribe’s water rights and authorize funding of $131 million for the Crow Irrigation Project and $246 million for the MR&I water system. It also provided funds of more than $81 million for tribal water administration, and a portion of costs for the irrigation and water systems.
In addition, the settlement allocates funding for energy development projects such as hydropower generation at the Yellowtail Afterbay Dam near Fort Smith, clean coal conversion and other renewable energy projects.