A numbers game

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I had the opportunity to read Jessica Mayrer’s latest water rights article titled “Water compact ripples” [July 19] and am not happy with the context of the quote attributed to me.

At the water compact meeting on June 27, I expressed that the very idea of the Unitary Management Ordinance is disconcerting.

Being a non-tribal resident who lives on fee land that happens to fall within the boundaries of the reservation, my biggest concern with the UMO is why my water rights would be administered differently than other residents of the state of Montana? This ordinance represents an unequal application of the constitution and Montana law, just because I happen to live where I do. I don’t recall ever being told my constitutional rights would be compromised because I chose to live here, just like I was never told my water rights could be compromised because of this compact. I am not a tribal member, and I do not live on the Flathead Indian Reservation. I live within the exterior boundaries of the reservation, on fee land, not tribal trust land. The tribe has no jurisdiction over me.

At the compact meeting, I also asked why the tribe was given 40 percent of the representation on the UMO board right off the top, with the potential for a higher percentage, when they only have 18 percent of total population within reservation boundaries? A simple question was asked. All I wanted to know was what logic went behind the proposed makeup of the Unitary Management board. Jessica’s article implied I meant something else, when in fact I did not.

Terry Backs

St. Ignatius

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