Dr. Katherine Vandemoer ("Lady Operator"), a highly trained hydrologist, previously served as Special Assistant to Ada Deer, the former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior (“DOI”) and the Director of its Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”). Ms. Deer was known for her significant reorganization of the BIA under Clinton-Babbitt.
Among the BIA’s primary mission objectives, was the development and implementation of a federal Indian policy that promoted tribal self-governance, self-determination and sovereignty. This policy entitles "federally recognized tribal entities" (a/k/a “federally recognized tribes”) to numerous regulatory, tax and other benefits and preferences at the public’s cost and expense, which the BIA and some left-leaning courts consider a 'benign' form of racial discrimination. These include:
1) Exemptions, waivers and derogations from numerous federal regulatory requirements to which ordinary private parties would otherwise be subject;
2) Receipt of $billions of perpetual federal funding through congressional appropriations to the federal Indian Trust Fund Accounts of the governing bodies of federally recognized tribes, at the expense of tribal members; and
3) Perpetual preferential contracts issued by various federal agencies, such as the BIA, FWS, EPA, NOAA, HHS, DOD, etc., to perform governmental and nongovernmental functions including, but not limited to, the: a) transmission of electricity to the public and maintenance of transmission infrastructure; b) implementation and enforcement of federal fish, environment and wildlife laws and regulations both on and off Indian reservations; c) provision of public health services; and d) fulfillment of military goods and services procurement agreements.
"Federally recognized tribal entity" status deems tribes as financially dependent 'sovereign' nations considered to predate the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Interior Secretary, on behalf of the U.S. government, including Congress, assumes a fiduciary trust responsibility to protect the tangible and intangible interests of federally recognized tribal entities, which are NOT considered to be subject to the U.S. Constitution as are U.S. States.
The only way Congress can control these "financially dependent 'sovereigns'" is through the power of the purse. The tribes cannot survive without congressionally appropriated monies.
Since federal jurisprudence did not permit tribal governments to have physical jurisdiction over nontribal members off reservation, the courts and the DOI-BIA pushed mechanisms such as the EPA "treatment as states" (“TAS”) program and “638 contracts” that federally recognized tribal entities would enter into with numerous federal agencies, as noted above. These arrangements bestowed newly found legal jurisdiction upon federally recognized tribal entities enabling them to regulate nontribal activities off as well as on reservations in order to protect reservation-related tribal aboriginal land, water and wildlife rights. Since this often dovetails with the environmentalists’ agenda (e.g., Agenda 21), the enviros usually go along with it. There have been exceptions, however, as where battles arise over the rights of ocean-based fish vs. those of upper watershed fresh water fish.
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana (CSKT) are among the first federally recognized tribes. They also participate in EPA's TAS program, multiple DOI-FWS “638 contracts,” and many federally appropriated DOD contracts. For example, in 2014, the CSKT were awarded a $1billion defense contract, in addition to many other contracts it has secured with the domestic and foreign military services to produce military hardware, including missiles and other incendiaries. For example, the CSKT produce such devices for the Saudi Airforce. And, for a number of years, the CSKT have specialized in performing military contracts for the cleanup of uranium mill tailings spills on military bases. The CSKT's involvement with manufacture of military weaponry and its expertise in uranium spill cleanups should raise red flags when one considers how the Government of Turkey has expressed public interest in pursuing business relations, including building construction and leasing activities, leading to work with the CSKT on the Flathead Reservation. Turkey also has expressed such interest in entering into building construction, leasing and other business activities with numerous other federally recognized tribes on their reservations.
Lady Operator's job at BIA was to promote enhanced tribal self-governance, self-determination and sovereignty in implementation of these policies around the country, especially in the West and Pacific Northwest. Although she worked primarily in DOI-BIA, she also had been assigned temporarily (i.e., “detailed to”) to EPA and to NOAA's Columbia River Basin Unit in Washington and Oregon.
Since retiring from the U.S. government in 2002 (i.e., likely forced out during the early part of the Bush '43 administration), she has performed consulting work for Indian tribal governments located in multiple western states. This enables her to continue to promote the policies for which she was previously held responsible. It also broadens her resume, so that, in the event Hillary Clinton is elected president, she would likely be placed on a short list of potential candidates capable of assuming directorship of BIA.
For the past 3-4 years, Lady Operator has played mind manipulation games in Montana in an effort to secure passage in the MT legislature of a precedent-setting Water Compact entered into between the CSKT, the State of Montana and DOI. This water compact effectively cedes state-sanctioned consumptive and non-consumptive instream water rights owned, used and held by irrigators on and appurtenant to the Flathead Reservation, including those flowing through the Kerr Dam, to the U.S. government and/or the CSKT. The Water Compact also serves to codify controversial legal jurisprudence that reaffirms the Tribes' time-immemorial reserved aboriginal rights to land, water, fishing and hunting both on and off the Flathead Reservation. In other words, the Water Compact goes even further than did the 1855 Hellgate Treaty the U.S. government signed with the Tribes. As you know, water rights are very valuable in the West. Typically, western state laws governing water rights are based on the "prior appropriation" doctrine which awards diversions from natural water flows in rivers, creeks, etc. by those who are first to file declaration of specific use(s) and can demonstrate continuous actual use of a given quantity of water for said purpose(s). Cessation of use for a specific purpose usually means abandonment of the water right use.
Lady Operator has feigned opposition to the Water Compact in ‘educational’ information-packed blogs, speeches and workshops, which serve to encourage uninformed or otherwise naive reservation residents and irrigators to believe that she will help them defeat the Water Compact. Lady Operator is understood to have liaison with DOI, FWS, BIA, NOAA and EPA, as well as, with lobbyists and lawyers who work for the CSKT and/or the State of Montana. And some such lawyers are understood to have feigned protection of irrigators’ private property, including water rights, and to do little to actually protect them, in service to U.S. and/or State government demands. Unfortunately, when lawyers ‘throw’ cases, bad legal precedent is often created that benefits their other clients’ interests.
Lady Operator is quite adept at creating a ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ in Montana by manipulating peoples’ emotions, attitudes and thoughts, especially through quoting scripture. This has helped her, for example, to frame the Water Compact debate in the MT legislature, with the assistance of these lobbyists and lawyers, by limiting the discussion to only technical water rights.
Lady Operator also has been known to engage in efforts to block certain persons from speaking at the April 2015 MT Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. These hearings led to the fateful vote favoring State passage of the Water Compact in Senate Bill 262. Furthermore, Lady Operator has worked diligently, with the assistance of key lobbyists, to make it quite difficult for “outsiders” (non-Montanans) from all professions to represent the interests of local irrigators.
Furthermore, Lady Operator is known to serve informally at the pleasure of the Flathead Joint Board of Control which is charged with representing the interests of the irrigators located within its three districts. This dovetails nicely with the liaison she enjoys with the federal agencies noted above.
Documents of Interest (links listed to the left)
28A. First Nations Development Institute, Native American Asset Watch: Rethinking Asset-Building in Indian Country (2009), at APPENDIX 2: Building a Water and Energy Homeland Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Tribes), Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation, North Dakota - A Case Study on Tribal Natural Resource Asset Control, Management and Protection (prepared by *Dr. Catherine Vandemoer).
28B. First Nations Development Institute, Native American Asset Watch: Rethinking Asset-Building in Indian Country (2009), at APPENDIX 4: Native Water Rights and Resources: Managing The Trust Asset Wind River Indian Reservation A Case Study in the Management and Protection of Tribal Water Resource Assets (prepared by *Dr. Catherine Vandemoer). (** Dr. Kate’s resume (Doc. 1 above) indicates that she had “[d]eveloped the Wind River Water Code to implement and protect federal reserved water rights awarded to the Tribes in the Big Horn Decree [;…d]eveloped, implemented, and scientifically defended the Tribes’ first use of its reserved water rights in the form of an instream flow restoring flows to over 50 miles of the Wind River; coordinated with the U.S. Department of Justice in legally defending the Tribes’ instream flow dedication; […and d]eveloped the administrative framework, initial funding, and staffing for the Wind River Environmental Quality Commission”) (underlined emphasis added).