HELENA — The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are asking a federal judge to block two state courts from deciding on water rights on the Flathead reservation.
A state District Court in Lake County and the Montana Water Court are considering three lawsuits filed by non-Indians who are claiming personal water rights there.
The tribes say in their Feb. 27 lawsuit that federal treaties and laws dating from 1855 established their rights to all the water on and flowing through the reservation.
They are asking the federal court to block the judges in the state lawsuits from determining who owns the water rights.
The tribes say Congress has specified the only way a non-Indian can acquire a water right on the reservation, and state courts do not have jurisdiction over those claims.