SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit from a South Dakota tribe that was seeking $200 million from the U.S. government for the diversion of Missouri River water.
The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe’s reservation was established in 1863 and sits along the eastern banks of the river in central South Dakota, the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/2rHRpWb ) reported.
The federal lawsuit filed by the tribe in June 2016 accuses the government of infringing tribal water rights by allowing nontribal entities to take the water without payment. The complaint is based on the 1908 Winters Doctrine, which determines that a Native American tribe’s land reservation includes an implied reservation of water rights.
Since the federal government built dams in the mid-1900s that flooded about 15,000 acres of the reservation, it has allowed nontribal entities to use the tribe’s water for flood control.
Along with monetary compensation, the tribe also sought a formal measurement of its water rights, which it says hasn’t been “quantified.”
Senior Judge Robert Hodges Jr. wrote Thursday that the tribe didn’t say how the government’s usage of the water harmed the tribe.
“Defendant has withdrawn or diverted water from the Missouri River for flood control, and its diversion has provided benefit to others in the area, but plaintiff has not alleged that such uses have reduced the amount of water available to the Crow Creek Sioux,” Hodges wrote. “The Tribe has not shown that it has a need for the water other than for its own consumption.”
Phone calls by The Associated Press seeking comment from the tribe were unsuccessful. Phone messages left for the tribe’s attorneys, Austin Tighe and Michael Angelovich, weren’t immediately returned.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com