Irrigation, Timber, and Hydropower

Irrigation, Timber, and Hydropower

Negotiating Natural Resource Development on the Flathead Indian Reservation, Montana, 1904–1945

152 pages
12 photographs, map, index


November 2017


$16.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Irrigation, Timber, and Hydropower is the story of the Flathead Irrigation Project and the Flathead Lake Dam, two early twentieth-century enterprises whose consequences are still felt today on the Flathead Reservation in western Montana.

The Flathead Irrigation Project was originally promoted by Sen. Joseph M. Dixon as benefiting the Flathead Reservation tribes, but it soon became a medium for using tribal funds and assets to benefit white homesteaders. Garrit Voggesser traces the history of natural resource conflicts on the reservation and recounts how competing interests fought at the expense of the tribes.

In the 1920s and early 1930s a national controversy swirled around the dam site at the foot of Flathead Lake. The lease for the dam site was granted to the Montana Power Company over the objections of the tribes, but the tribes retained ownership and were able to negotiate from a position of strength fifty years later when the lease came up for renewal. Voggesser describes the struggles of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes that ultimately secured their control of reservation resources and helped to build a better future for tribal members.

Author Bio

Garrit Voggesser has been the national director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Tribal Partnerships Program since 2004. He works with tribes on wildlife conservation, water policy and riparian restoration, energy and climate issues, and youth environmental education. He received his PhD in Native American and environmental history from the University of Oklahoma.

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