HORTON – (September 9, 2016) – The State of Kansas and the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas have settled a dispute over water rights, laying the groundwork to end a lawsuit that has been pending for a decade, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today.
Schmidt, members of the Kickapoo Tribe, and representatives of the Kansas Department of Agriculture commemorated the agreement in a ceremony this morning at the Kickapoo Tribal Government Center near Horton. The Water Rights Settlement Agreement recognizes the Tribe’s senior water rights in the Delaware River Watershed, which allows a tributary, Plum Creek, to continue to flow through the Kickapoo Reservation in Brown County. These water rights were obtained through negotiations between the Tribe, the State of Kansas, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Justice and recognize a Tribal priority date of October 24, 1832.
The agreement settles a federal lawsuit pending since 2006, when the Tribe sued the federal government and political subdivisions of the state to establish senior tribal water rights along the Upper Delaware River and its tributaries. The Tribe’s lawsuit was later amended to add the State of Kansas and the Chief Engineer of the Kansas Division of Water Resources as defendants.
“We are encouraged by the cooperation and good faith negotiations that brought this agreement to fruition,” Schmidt said. “This settlement resolves 10 years of litigation, is fair to all parties involved and strengthens the ties between the State of Kansas and the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas.”
Signatories to the agreement include the State of Kansas, the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Interior. For the State parties, the settlement was signed by Governor Sam Brownback, Attorney General Schmidt and the chief engineer.
“The State was pleased to work with the Kickapoo Tribe on this cooperative agreement assuring a safe and secure source of water for future generations,” Governor Brownback said. “This agreement will ensure that both state and tribal interests are reflected in ongoing water planning.”
The settlement resolves the dispute about the Tribe's water rights. Upon signing, the agreement will be forwarded to the U.S. Congress for ratification with a request for the appropriation of funds for the construction of a reservoir in the area.
Photo Caption: Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Kickapoo Tribal Chairman Lester Randall (front center) and representatives of the Kickapoo Tribal Council and State of Kansas signed a Water Rights Settlement Agreement this morning at the tribe’s headquarters near Horton.