Saturday, September 5, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Chairman Vernon Finley announced the new name for the tribes’ dam at the Joe McDonald Health and Fitness Center of Salish Kootenai College. “From this day forward it will be known as Salish Kootenai Dam,” he told the audience of nearly 2,500.
Two Native American tribes in Montana have taken over ownership of a dam after a late legal challenge that sought to stop the transfer failed. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes held a celebration Saturday in Pablo to commemorate the official takeover of the dam. The tribes paid nearly $18.3 million to NorthWestern Energy to acquire the dam. Tribes chairman Vernon Finley tells the Missoulian that the dam on the Flathead River will now be called Salish-Kootenai Dam. It had been named Kerr Dam.
The acquisition of Kerr Dam by the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes is in its final stages of ownership transition from Northwestern Energy after decades of plans, negotiations, and preparations. The acquisition is also known as the Kerr Project. Energy Keepers, Inc. (EKI) – a corporation formed by the CSKT in September 2012, will oversee day-to-day operations and manage the employees, power creation through three-unit hydroelectric turbines, and sell the energy on the open commodities market.
Residents in and around Flathead Lake are asking a judge to temporarily block federal officials from transferring a hydroelectric dam in northwestern Montana to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The plaintiffs — state Sen. Bob Keenan, a Bigfork business owner; Verdell Jackson, supervisor of the Flathead Conservation District and Pointer Scenic Cruises — filed a motion in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia late Wednesday. The transfer is set to take place on Saturday.
Polson, Mont. — Energy Keepers, Inc. (EKI), has successfully paid the conveyance price of $18.2 million to purchase the Kerr Hydroelectric Project from NorthWestern Energy.
EKI is the corporation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes responsible for acquiring the Kerr Project, and subsequently managing operations upon ownership of the hydro facility. Payment by the tribal entity concludes the final steps necessary for the Tribes to become the first in the nation to own and operate a major hydroelectric generating project.
“We paid the conveyance price, and Northwestern accepted,” said Brian Lipscomb, CEO of EKI. “Under the contract that was negotiated thirty years ago, today we can rest assured that both parties have performed, in good faith, and both EKI and Northwestern Energy have met their obligations— allowing the Tribes to become owners of Kerr Dam.”
A lawsuit seeking to block Saturday’s transfer of Kerr Dam to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes makes the unusual assertion that the transfer could lead the Turkish government to seek raw nuclear materials on U.S. soil to blow up the dam or other targets. The lawsuit filed by state Sen. Bob Keenan, former state Sen. Verdell Jackson and Pointer Scenic Cruises seeks an emergency order to block the transfer of the dam from NorthWestern Energy to the tribes on the Flathead Indian Reservation.
A lawsuit seeking to block the transfer of a Montana dam to two Native American tribes makes the unusual assertion that the transfer could lead the Turkish government to seek raw nuclear materials on U.S. soil to blow up the dam or other targets. The lawsuit filed by state Sen. Bob Keenan, former state Sen. Verdell Jackson and Pointer Scenic Cruises seeks an emergency order to block Saturday’s transfer of the Kerr dam from NorthWestern Energy to the tribes on Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation.
Missoulian Guest Editorial by CSKT Chairman, Vernon Finley
I have the good fortune of being Tribal Council chairman during the long-awaited Sept. 5 date when the Confederated Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai Tribes take possession of Kerr Dam. This day has been coming since 1985, when the option to purchase and operate the hydroelectric facility was secured by our predecessors. But the issues around the acquisition of the dam have a lot in common with many significant events throughout tribal history.
PLEASE JOIN US AS WE COMMEMORATE THE CSKT ACQUISITION OF THE KERR PROJECT
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 changes 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. On behalf of the Tribes, please help us commemorate this milestone.