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“Montana’s National Bison Range Transferred To Tribes”

“MISSOULA, Mont. — Red Sleep Mountain began its official return to the Flathead Indian Reservation on Friday as Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed papers transferring the National Bison Range to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

“The CSKT have strong and deep historical, geographic and cultural ties to the land and the bison, and their environmental professionals have been leaders in natural resources and wildlife management for many decades,” Interior Assistant Secretary Tara Katuk Sweeney wrote in a Friday email statement. “Interior is pleased to continue its partnership and work with them on the restoration of the NBR to federal trust ownership for the Tribes.”

The transfer was part of an omnibus spending bill signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 27, 2020. It was included as part of the Montana Water Rights Protection Act, co-sponsored by all three members of Montana’s congressional delegation: Senators Jon Tester (D) and Steve Daines (R) and Rep. (now Gov.) Greg Gianforte (R). That act also settled a long-standing treaty negotiation that gave the CSKT rights to major water resources inside the Flathead Indian Reservation in return for releasing claims on more than 10,000 water rights outside its boundaries.”

Rob Chaney reports for the Associated Press January 18, 2021.