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Valley Forge and Western Montana…

By Elaine Willman, July 20, 2015, Western Ag Reporter

Author of Going to Pieces…

Cherishing history as I do, I woke up this morning thinking of the bandaged feet of shoeless Revolutionary War soldiers at Valley Forge.  They seemed doomed, without food or resources, but they had one decisive weapon: the combination of terror and courage.  Those soldiers gave our absolutely fearless Founders the ability to forge the United States of America. It was just a few soldiers, and just a few Founding Fathers against a brutal and enormous British empire.

It appears that Montana citizens faced with the Trifecta-partnership of the CSKT Compact are in similar “shoes” as the Revolutionary soldiers.  Montana citizens have no hope for help from the federal government, their state government, nor the tribal government. There is precious little help from State elected officials, and certainly no help, in fact intentional harm, from the State’s legal cadre that facilitated the text and propaganda misinforming legislators and citizens alike. Montana landowners are on their own. 

We don’t have bandaged feet. We have big Montana boots. We have federal, state and local law on our side, even as laws have been turned upside down, twisted and utterly ignored in the oppressive text of the CSKT Water Compact. 

Like the Valley Forge soldiers, many earlier defeats at great personal cost probably created a feeling of utter hopelessness. That feeling exists among cattlemen and farmers, and thousands of other Montana folks. Having made five earlier trips to Montana, I became convinced that the CSKT Compact is a template for federalizing all state waters, implementing communalism and socialism consistent with Agenda 21, and intentionally aligned to spread tribalism as a governing system while eliminating State authority and duty to protect its citizenry. It is my belief that Montana is Ground Zero for test-driving this model in a highly prized State of small population. I so seriously believe this peril is a fight worth fighting, that I have walked away from an excellent employer, moved my family, household and consulting business to Ronan.  Add four folks and two little dogs to the State’s population. I am no longer a “carpetbagger” from Wisconsin; I’m here to help and stand with Montana landowners willing to stand up for themselves.

This socialist strategy in the CSKT template will roll across Montana, and other Western States as the feds ramp up the pressure for their WOTUS (Waters of the United States) mischief. Tribal governments and reservations are the ever-so-willing pawns of the federal government, even as direct harm also affects tribal members.

The weaponry used against property and water rights holders included these foul tricks:

1.       Resurrecting an old dead Treaty of 1855 by codifying it into the CSKT Compact, when on October 28th, 1935 the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribe formally walked away from its Treaty to take on a new, replacement form of government under the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). The Tribe’s legitimate governing structure, their Tribal Constitution gives them no authority over non-tribal persons or properties. Their current governing structure was therefore minimized, ignored and replaced with conflation of language within an old Treaty. The taking of fish conflated to ownership of water, even as the tribes had no jurisdictional authority under the Treaty of Hell Gate. The United States owned the reservation, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs maintained jurisdictional authority.


2.      Congress enacted specific language assuring Indian Allottees and Homesteaders alike that their land included a property right to water for all time. The Winters Doctrine guaranteed federal reserved water rights for all tribal lands. Between Congress and the Courts, every parcel within the reservation was assured its right to water for time immemorial (“aboriginal rights”), certainly not the Treaty nor the Tribe.

3.      Ah, but enter the federal agencies’ new environmental regulatory mechanisms to help augment tribal authority over nonmembers, the failings of the Hell Gate Treaty and lack of authority of the Tribe’s governing Constitution. Using EPA, USFW, BLM, etc., the layering on of environmental regulations of the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and then delegating “authority” to the CSKT began the not-so-subtle language and jurisdictional changes. 

4.      Water “rights” were exchanged for “appropriations” Appropriate means to “take for one’s own use.” Appropriations then became subject to “allocations.” Allocate means to assign, allot, distribute or apportion. So the new appropriators implementing the CSKT Compact have arbitrarily taken landowner’s water rights, and in return have set a federal system in place to “allocate” a pittance of irrigation here and there, in return for the theft of congressionally authorized water rights attached to the land since at least 1904.

Faced with irrigation shut-offs, severe reductions and redirections, Montanans now stand in the bandaged feet of their ancestor Valley Forge soldiers. Having suffered numerous defeats and heavy financial losses to stop this travesty described above, Montanans must now realize they have only each other as citizens to continue waging defeat of a Congressional ratification of this egregious depopulation plan for Western Montana. The law is on the side of the citizens but most Montana lawyers are unfortunately, under the mesmerizing edicts of a Governor who has sold out his state and his citizens. It’s no mistake that the Chair of the Montana Compact Commission happens to be President of the Montana Bar Association.

Out of state legal counsel untainted by the corruption of Montana’s Executive Branch and legal cadre is prepared and available to assist in spite of a State Bar Association that discourages outsiders and offers no reciprocity. When Montanans contact local attorneys they are generally informed of a conflict of interest with either the State or Tribe.

Remember three things: 1) federal, state and local law is on the side of citizens and private property owners and will ultimately prevail; 2) doing nothing to fight back is guaranteed devastation very soon as the CSKT Compact gets implemented; 3) “A few good men” is an expression tried and true as effective throughout history in this beloved country, from Valley Forge to what is left of our current military. We would not exist as a people but for a few good men in the 1700’s, nor will Montana keep control of its State waters and water rights of its citizens in 2015 but for a few good Montana citizens.

I’m ready to join the fearless and courageous. Let’s get ‘er done! 

Elaine Willman, Author
Going To Pieces…the dismantling of the United States of America



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