Huge Victory: Blackfeet Nation to control its own water after 35 years battle

A majority of tribal members approved the Blackfeet Water Compact and Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act with Montana and the federal government, by a vote of 1,894 to 631.The compact provides $422 million in federal funding for water-related projects on the reservation. Montana contributed an additional $49 million. The money will become available to the Tribe over a number of years.
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“The funding will pay for such projects as installing municipal water systems to all communities on the reservation,” Jerry Lunak, the Blackfeet Water Resources Director told Indian Country Media Network. “We expect upgrades to existing irrigation systems on the reservation, and cost sharing for tribal members and others to upgrade irrigation on tribal and allotted lands.” The history of the struggle between the tribes in Montana, and the State of Montana, over water rights began in the 1970s, when the federal government filed court water rights cases on behalf of all Montana tribes.

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