US Attorney General Barr arrives in Pablo, visits Bison Range
PABLO – United States Attorney General William Barr began his day with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes by stopping at a scenic overlook outside the National Bison Range Friday morning.
While visiting with tribal staff and viewing a small herd through a field scope, Barr discussed the Tribes’ interest in regaining ownership of the federal refuge surrounded by tribal lands.
“Attorney General Barr’s visit allowed for a discussion of a wide range of issues important to us, including our ongoing effort to protect our people, lands, wildlife and our water,” said CSKT Vice Chair Leonard Gray.
Tribal staff were able to explain the background, history and tribal connection to the bison range. Barr’s reservation tour allowed CSKT officials and staff to explain several issues. Another topic discussed was the effort to get the CSKT Water Compact through Congress. The compact, now state law, was passed through Montana State Legislature and signed by Governor Steve Bullock in 2015.
At Barr’s Salish Kootenai College stop, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, Kurt Alme, and Montana’s Attorney General Tim Fox joined Barr, members of Tribal Council, and members of Salish Kootenai College’s board and staff in a detailed discussion regarding the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative. The Department of Justice put out a news release regarding the launch of a national strategy to address the MMIP issue. Barr assured those attending the meeting that he intends to make an impact in protecting lives, particularly those who have not always had equal protection.
CSKT Police Chief Craige Couture and Captain Louis Fiddler also attended discussions with Barr, which included the fight against meth dealers and meth addiction. CSKT councilmember Carole Lankford explained the community successes of the Lake County Drug Court.
Barr’s final stop was at Tribal Council chambers. Led by directors of CSKT’s two culture committees, Barr was given a blanket, which was wrapped around him. Drum group Yamncut sang an honor song.
“How lucky we are to live in such a great country,” said Selis Qlispe Culture Committee Director Tony Incashola. “How lucky we are to have such leaders who have an opportunity to make our lives better.”
Incashola shared a story of the Salish encountering the Lewis and Clark expedition for the first time. “Our people chose to bring them in, to be grateful and to give them a blanket to cover them up. Our lives have always been about welcoming,” Incashola said.
Barr left for Kalispell and Whitefish after lunch.