Crow Tribe Water Rights Compact Settlement Collection

Accession Number
Jon Ille
Access Restrictions on Use
Preferred Citation of Materials
The Crow Tribe Water Rights Compact/Settlement Collection, Little Big Horn College Archives, Crow Agency, MT

Physical Description

Linear Feet
Comprehensive Dates
Materials Included
Crow Water Rights Settlement, Northern Cheyenne Water Compact, legal definitions of water rights, newspaper articles, opposition arguments, final vote tallies
Organization of Material
This artificial collection details the legal, political, and potential impacts of The Crow Tribe Water Rights Compact/Settlement. The inclusion of material from the Northern Cheyenne Reservation is for comparative purposes.

Historical Note

On March 19, 2011, voters of the Apsaalooke (Crow) Nation voted to approve a water rights settlement that dealt with water allocation and usage on the reservation. The Crow Tribe entered into a compact with the state of Montana in 1999, which guaranteed a set amount of water to the tribe annually. After the Crow/Montana water compact, Crow negotiators met with federal officials to settle existing water claims by tribal members. These claims were based on prior appropriation rights guaranteed in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, and the 1905 Winters decision. After nearly a decade of inaction, President Obama signed the The Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act on December 20, 2010. The act entailed much of the language of Crow/Montana compact regarding water allocation along with monies to help repair irrigation infrastructure, establish a water distribution system, and to help facilitate the creation of a Crow water code.

The Crow Water Rights Settlement Act of 2010 also stipulated approval by members of the Crow Nation through a vote originally scheduled for March 8, 2011 but later rescheduled for March 19, 2011. Opposition developed to the act among some allottees who argued that granting control of water to the tribal government circumscribed the principle of prior appropriation laid out in the Fort Laramie Treaty and Winters decision. Despite the opposition, Crow voters approved the act by a vote of 2323 to 938.


The Little Big Horn College Archives created this collection artificially. As more material related to the settlement emerges, it will be incorporated into the existing collection.

Scope and Content

This collection covers the years 1992 to 2011 and includes material related to The Crow Tribe Water Rights Compact/Settlement. The content includes opinions in support and opposition to the settlement; newspaper articles and editorials regarding the act; along with information on the Northern Cheyenne water settlement and the views of non-tribal reservation water users.


The Crow Tribe Water Rights Compact/Settlement Collection currently includes twelve files related to the settlement.

  1. Montana Code Annotated, 2009: Crow Tribe Montana Compact Ratified
  2. Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2010
  3. Warranty Deed, Soap Creek Cattle Company and Crow Tribe of Indians, 1996
  4. Big Horn Conservation District, Special Meeting Minutes, January 27, 1999
  5. Federal Reserved Water Rights Pamphlet
  6. “A Crow Allottee Perspective,” William Yellowtail
  7. Why You Should Vote No on the Crow Water Settlement, William Eggers
  8. Northern Cheyenne Indian Reserved Water Rights Settlement Act of 1992
  9. Northern Cheyenne Water Code, 1995
  10. Apsaalooke Nation, March, 2011
  11. Newspaper Articles Related to the Crow Tribe Water Compact/Settlement
  12. Certified Tribal Ratification Vote Results