Tribes Take Water Right Fight To Federal Court - News, Sports and Weather

Tribes Take Water Right Fight To Federal Court

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A battle over water rights on the Flathead Indian Reservation has escalated and may go to the national level.     

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes are petitioning a federal judge to block state courts from deciding water rights on the reservation.  Lake County District Court and the Montana Water Court are both considering lawsuits filed by non-indians for personal water rights in the area.    

The tribes claim in their lawsuit that federal treaties and laws, which span from 1855 to the present, establish rights to the water both on their land and flowing through the reservation.

The lawsuit looks to block the state judges from making a decision and the tribe says Congress has already specified the only means to acquire the water rights and state courts do not have jurisdiction.

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