"Water Rights Tear at an Indian Reservation"

"RONAN, Mont. -- In a place where the lives and histories of Indian tribes and white settlers intertwine like mingling mountain streams, a bitter battle has erupted on this land over the rivers running through it."

"A water war is roiling the Flathead Indian Reservation here in western Montana, and it stretches from farms, ranches and mountains to the highest levels of state government, cracking open old divisions between the tribes and descendants of homesteaders who were part of a government-led land rush into Indian country a century ago.

'Generations of misunderstanding have come to a head,' said Robert McDonald, the communications director for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. 'It's starting to tear the fabric of our community apart.'

Dependable water supplies mean the difference between dead fields and a full harvest throughout the arid West, and the Flathead is no exception. Snowmelt flows down from the ragged peaks to irrigate fields of potatoes and wheat. It feeds thirsty cantaloupes and honeydew melons. Cutthroat trout splash in the rivers. Elk drink from the streams."

Jack Healy reports for the New York Times April 21, 2013.

Source: NY Times, 04/23/2013