The Latest: Lawyer says Indian land buy effort to need money
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An attorney for an American Indian group says U.S. officials will need more money from Congress to cover the costs of an initiative to return land on reservations to tribal ownership.
John Dossett with the National Congress of American Indians says the U.S. Interior Department program is working well. But he says the $1.9 billion put into it under a 2009 legal settlement won’t be enough to get the work done.
The program consolidates individual parcels of land with multiple owners and turns the property over to tribes to be put to beneficial use. It expires in 2022.
Interior officials on Tuesday added 63 reservations in 16 states to the initiative, bringing the total number involved to 105.
Montana sets up 13 satellite voting offices for tribes
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s secretary of state has announced that more than a dozen satellite voting offices have been established on the state’s American Indian reservations ahead of the June 7 primary election.
The Great Falls Tribune reports the 13 offices will serve six tribal nations in nine counties. The announcement Tuesday comes after tribal leaders called on Secretary of State Linda McCulloch last year to open the offices to ensure American Indians had equal access to voting.
McCulloch says the newly created offices will be open on select days in the month leading up to the primary.
Most Montana reservations have local polling places for Election Day, but satellite offices provide more services, such as late registration and in-person absentee voting, that are typically only available at the county elections office.
Montana man admits to vehicular homicide while on meth
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — A man has pleaded guilty to fatally striking a woman in a southwestern Montana hit-and-run while under the influence of drugs.
The Montana Standard reports that 50-year-old Donald Welborn Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony vehicular homicide while under the influence of methamphetamine as part of a plea deal. He had previously denied the charge.
Prosecutors say the Lima man struck and killed 32-year-old Mary Elizabeth Merino on Interstate 15 north of Dillon in October 2015. Merino had abandoned her car after striking a guardrail and had been walking along the highway when she was hit.
Welborn had initially reported to authorities he thought he had hit an elk that night and was unaware he struck a person.
Commission recommends increased funding for child protection
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A commission appointed to assess the Division of Child and Family Services says the agency is facing an alarming caseload increase with inadequate resources and training, causing staff to burn out and quit.
The Protect Montana Kids Commission is recommending the legislature increase funding for the division along with the court system and for prosecutors and public defenders offices to help handle the increasing number of child abuse cases.
The commission is scheduled to meet Tuesday to approve its final recommendations.
The commission says not providing the additional resources could lead to more spending for corrections and mental health programs.
Commission members also made long-term recommendations including improving agency communications both internally and with outside interests and encouraging a culture of collective responsibility for safety and quality care among all involved in the child protection system.
Woman charged in attacks that left 1 dead pleads guilty
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A woman charged in two knife attacks that left one person dead and another injured in Missoula has pleaded guilty.
The Missoulian reports 32-year-old Sarah McKnight pleaded guilty Tuesday to five felonies, including deliberate homicide and kidnapping.
Prosecutors say she and co-defendant Scott Price intended to steal a car and money to buy drugs. On Dec. 21, investigators say McKnight waited in her car as Price stabbed a woman outside a grocery store. They then drove to a motel, where they found Lonette Keehner cleaning a room.
McKnight says Price pushed Keehner into the bathtub and robbed her at knifepoint. McKnight then waited outside and says she didn’t know Price had killed the woman until she saw a bloody knife.
Price also is facing five felonies in the case.
Men face complaint after walking to Yellowstone hot spring
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — A Canadian-based group of men who post pictures and videos of their travels on social media are in hot water with Yellowstone National Park officials after walking out to a hot spring where people are prohibited.
Rangers filed a criminal complaint Monday against three members of the group known as High on Life SundayFundayz for stepping onto a geothermal feature.
The group has posted an apology on its website and social networks for leaving the boardwalk path that visitors are required to stay on. The park’s pathways are there to protect both tourists and sensitive hot springs.
They’ve offered to donate up to $5,000 to the park. The group removed photos and video showing some of them touching the hot water at the Grand Prismatic Spring over the weekend.