A message from Tribal Council Chairman Vernon Finley,
of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
On September 5, 2015, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will celebrate the acquisition of the Kerr Project, a major hydroelectric generation facility that lies in the heart of our homelands on the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Construction of the Kerr Project in the 1930s marked a time of significant cultural and economic change for our Tribes. Today as we look to the future, we anticipate that the Project, which once exemplified destruction to our way of life, may now help restore and revitalize our Tribes as we continue the important work of protecting our reserved and aboriginal lands, caring for our people, and preserving our cultural resources.
Back in 1939, the dam was dedicated and named after Frank Kerr, then president of Montana Power. Now as CSKT prepares to acquire the project, we want to rename the facility to better reflect our Tribes and our values.
Enclosed you will find a form titled Community Submission to Rename the Kerr Project. We encourage all Tribal Members to consider submitting a name. We ask that the form be completed and sent back to Energy Keepers, Inc., no later than May 29, 2015.
A committee to assist with the process of renaming has been created. The committee includes representatives from the Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai Culture Committees; Tribal Preservation; the People’s Center; and the Tribal Council. The Project’s new name will be announced at this summer’s quarterly meeting on July 3, 2015.
Events to commemorate this historical milestone are also being planned. These will include a “People of Vision” honoring at the Esyapqeyni and Standing Arrow celebrations and a Community Celebration on September 5, 2015. In 2016, a memorial will be dedicated to those men who lost their lives during the construction of the Kerr Project.
We ask any families who lost loved ones during the construction of the dam to please contact Energy Keepers, Inc., at 406-883-1113 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to collect all available information and background about these men—and pictures, if possible—as we continue to develop the memorial.
As more plans develop for these events, we will continue to announce the details. We hope to see the Tribal Membership participate in this significant moment in our history.