University of Colorado at Boulder
BMP of Oil and Gas Development

Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes

The “Confederated Salish” refers to two of the tribes on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, the Salish and Pend d’Oreille tribes.


The Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes have a Constitution which was enacted on October 4, 1935. It is notable that the Salish Kootenai Tribal Constitution has a very developed a lands article which includes substantive and procedural provisions concerning the leasing of land within the territorial boundaries. Relevant provisions of the tribal Constitution include:

Art. VI

Sec 1. “The Tribal Council shall have the power…

(a) To regulate the uses and disposition of tribal property, to protect and preserve the tribal property, wildlife and natural resources of the Confederated Tribes, to cultivate Indian arts, crafts, and culture, to administer charity; to protect the health, security, and general welfare of the Confederated Tribes.

(d) To approve or veto any sale, disposition, lease, or encumbrance of tribal lands and tribal assets which may be authorized or executed by the Secretary of the Interior, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, or any other agency of the Government, provided that no tribal lands shall be sold or encumbered or leased for a period in excess of five years, except for Governmental purposes.

(i) To promulgate and enforce ordinances, subject to review by the Secretary of the Interior, which would provide for assessments or license fees upon nonmembers doing business within the reservation, or obtaining special rights or privileges, and the same may also be applied to members of the Confederated Tribes, provided such ordinances have been approved by a referendum of the Confederated Tribes.


Sec 3. Leasing of tribal lands. Tribal lands may be leased by the Tribal Council, with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, for such periods of time as are permitted by law. In the leasing of tribal lands preference shall be given, first, to Indian cooperative associations, and, secondly, to individual Indians who are members of the Confederated Tribes. No lease of tribal land to a nonmember shall be made by the Tribal Council unless it shall appear that no Indian cooperative association or individual member of the Confederated Tribes is able and willing to use the land and to pay a reasonable fee for such use.

Other Environmental Regulation

The Tribe has established a Tribal Natural Resources Department. Under the TNRD is a Division of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation, and Conservation. In 1991, the Tribes formed the Division of Environmental Protection within the Natural Resources Department. The purpose of the Division is to protect human health and the environment for all Reservation residents. When created, the Division consisted of three programs: Air Quality, Water Quality, and Shoreline and Aquatic Lands Protection. Two of the three, Air and Shoreline programs, had been functioning for several years prior to 1991, but within a different organizational structure. A new program, Solid and Hazardous Waste, was added to the Division in 1993. The Division Manager presently handles solid waste issues with assistance from the Solid/Hazardous Waste Specialist and handles Pesticides issues with the assistance of the Pesticides Specialist. In 2006, the Pesticides program was added to the Division and in 2007, the Underground Storage Tank/Leaking Underground Storage Tank Program was added.

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