Crow Tribe signs $74 million irrigation contract

Billings, Montana (AP) October 2011

Crow Tribe officials say they have signed a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation to spend $74 million on improvements to an irrigation project on the arid southeastern Montana reservation.

Money for the improvements comes from a $461 million settlement that the federal government agreed to last year to resolve the Crow’s longstanding water rights claims.

Tribal Chairman Cedric Black Eagle said work done under the contract with the Bureau of Reclamation would generate jobs on the impoverished reservation and allow for needed repairs to the irrigation system.

The Tribe is due to receive a total of more than $131 million over the next decade to rehabilitate its irrigation system.

The water settlement also allocates to the tribe large volumes of water from Bighorn Lake and the Bighorn River.