For immediate release
March 5, 2015
Fort Peck Tribes and Dry Prairie Rural Water
Announce Historic Water Agreement
Poplar, Montana—The Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation and the Dry Prairie Rural Water Authority announce an historic agreement for the delivery of water from the Tribes’ intake and treatment facilities near Wolf Point to Dry Prairie customers throughout Montana’s northeastern corner. Praising the agreement, Fort Peck Tribal Chairman A.T. Stafne said, “We are very proud. This agreement represents decades of cooperation between the Tribes and its off-Reservation partners, and is a first of its kind in Montana.”
As a result of this three-party agreement between the Tribes, Dry Prairie, and the United States, the Tribal and Dry Prairie rural water systems will be connected later this spring. Once connected, the Tribal intake and treatment facilities will begin supplying water to Dry Prairie at a delivery point near Highway 2 on the eastern side of the Reservation. This eastern connection will allow Dry Prairie to immediately serve some 700 of its rural customers, as well as the communities of Bainville, Froid, Medicine Lake, Plentywood, Antelope, and Culbertson.
“Access to clean water is critical to the health of our communities,” said Senator Jon Tester (D. Mont.) on the announcement. “Connecting families to the regional water system strengthens communities in northeast Montana, invests in our infrastructure, and puts more folks to work. I applaud the leadership of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Dry Prairie and local communities for their work to make this historic agreement happen.”
In addition to the eastern connection point, the Tribes and Dry Prairie hope to also establish a connection between the two systems near Nashua in the upcoming year. This western connection will allow Dry Prairie to deliver water from the Tribes’ facilities to its customers west of the Reservation. A third connection is also planned along the northern boundary of the Reservation, near Highway 251. Eventually, the combined rural water systems will consist of 3,000 miles of water pipeline servicing approximately 30,000 residents throughout the eastern half of Valley County and all of Roosevelt, Sheridan and Daniels Counties.
“I’m glad to see this important project moving forward. This historic agreement will ensure hundreds of families on the Fort Peck Reservation and throughout northeastern Montana will have access to clean and safe drinking water. I commend the Tribes and the Dry Prairie Rural Water Authority for their work, and will continue working to ensure that this important project receives the funding it needs to move forward," commented Senator Steve Daines (R. Mont).
Congress originally authorized the two water projects in 2000 under the Fort Peck Reservation Rural Water System Act. The water for both projects is diverted from the Missouri River to a single treatment facility constructed and operated by the Tribes under an Indian Self-Determination Act agreement between the Tribes and the United States Secretary of Interior. “Dry Prairie and the Tribes have worked together over the past two decades to bring safe drinking water to northeastern Montana,” said Dry Prairie Chairman Rick Knick. “Working together, we can accomplish great things.”
The Fort Peck Tribes and Dry Prairie will be co-hosting a signing ceremony to celebrate this agreement at the Tribal Headquarters in Poplar on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. and is open to the public.
U.S. Congress Presents Gold Medal to Native American Code Talkers - Fort Peck Tribes
WASHINGTON, DC – Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate honored Native American code talkers in a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony held in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. The medal – Congress’s highest expression of appreciation – was awarded in recognition of the valor and dedication of these code talkers as members of our Armed Forces during World War I and World War II.
The term "Code Talkers" refers to Native Americans who used their tribal languages as a means of secret communication during wartime.
- Code talkers used their native language to create secure, secret communications that enemies could not decode, ultimately saving servicemembers’ lives.
- The American military’s first reported use of Native American code talkers dates back to October 1918.
- Thirty-three tribes from around the country will be recognized and more than 200 silver medals will be presented to individual code talkers and the families of those deceased. Code talkers were sworn to secrecy and many of them kept the secret of their participation until they died.
There were 49 identified enrolled members of the Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, who were WWII Code Talkers. Our Code Talkers were members of Company B, 163rd Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Division, Poplar, MT.
At the conclusion of World War II, before demobilization of the Armed Forces, those that had participated in the Code Talker Program met and unanimously agreed that all who participated in the Code Talker Program in WWII would never knowingly or willfully ever speak of their experiences as Code Talkers. For that reason, the participation by the Assiniboine & Sioux, as Code Talkers in World War II remained unspoken and untold... until now.
CHANGES TO THE FORT PECK TRIBES’
CONSITUTION AND BY-LAWS
Fort Peck tribal voters also approved four of 10 constitutional amendments and one referendum item, while rejecting the rest of the amendments by a wide margin.
Approved was Amendment No. 5, which sets a code of ethics for the Tribal Council to follow. This received 1,072 votes.
Amendment allows the Tribal Courts to exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians in domestic violence cases. Before this amendment, if an Indian victim of domestic violence were abused by a non-Indian perpetrator, the perpetrator could only be tried in Federal Court (in this case Great Falls). This amendment puts the Tribes Constitution in accordance with the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. This measure was approved with 1,219 votes.
Amendment No. 8, approved with 1,115 votes, clarifies that the Tribal Council can use government powers to protect and preserve cultural and spiritual sites, medicinal plants and natural foods within the reservation.
Amendment No. 9 requires all claims councils, district councils and other organizations recognized as legitimate by the Tribal Government to submit an annual audited fiscal report. This was approved with 1,037 people voting for the amendment.
A referendum that would allow the people to elect judges to the Tribal Court was also approved by tribal voters with 1,011 affirmative votes. Before this, Tribal Court judges were picked by the Tribal Council.