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Kickapoo Tribe will seek federal help on reservoir

Published on -2/4/2014, 10:32 AM

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- An American Indian tribe that has been trying for years to build a reservoir near its northeast Kansas property is considering seeking federal help to secure land for the project.

Efforts by the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas to build Plum Creek Reservoir have been stalled by the water district that oversees the land close to the tribe's property 50 miles north of Topeka, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1iiHcUA ). The tribe has been able to acquire only about half the land needed to build the reservoir.

A federal court ruled Dec. 20 after seven years of litigation that the tribe cannot compel the Nemaha-Brown Watershed Joint District No. 7 to use its powers of eminent domain to obtain private property needed so the reservoir can move forward.

Tribal chairman Steve Cadue and vice chairman Curtis Simon met with Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday to discuss their efforts to build the Plum Creek Reservoir and how they plan to enforce federal treaty rights to end the decades-long standoff.

"I said we've exhausted state law," Cadue said. "We have yet to pursue federal treaty water rights, (which are) senior water rights superior to the state of Kansas."

Cadue and Simon left Brownback a letter saying they will ask the federal government to acquire the land through eminent domain by invoking treaty agreements.

"Our Indian treaties are the supreme law of the land and we ask for protection from the State of Kansas taking our water," Cadue wrote.

He said the tribe needs water for farming and other uses.

"We want a water supply for economic development and irrigation," Cadue said.

They also asked Brownback to include the tribe's water needs in the Kansas Water Plan that state experts are developing to deal with droughts and the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

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