CSKT Tribal Council elects McDonald as President


The Confederate Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council held its quarterly meeting on Friday at the tribal headquarters in Pablo, with the selection of new council leaders high on the agenda.

The meeting opened with the swearing-in of the elected officials in the December 18 elections, followed by a prayer and song by the Yamncut drum group.

Council then turned to officer election matters, including a new president to replace Shelly Fyant of the Arlee District, who lost her candidacy for re-election.

Pablo District Representative Martin Charlo opened by appointing Tom McDonald as President. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.

McDonald is Director of the Fish and Wildlife Division in the Natural Resources Department at CSKT. He claimed one of the two new Council posts in the December elections. The initial vote for the second post in general is scheduled for 2023.

Council members then chose three other leaders: the vice-president, the secretary and the treasurer.

Leonard Twoteeth of the Elmo District was elected Vice President. Charlo, who was previously treasurer, was elected secretary. Charlo then appointed Ellie Bundy of St. Ignatius as treasurer. Bundie was previously secretary and the members quickly elected her treasurer.

All officer selections were made unanimously and without debate.

Along with McDonald’s, two other new members joined the Tribal Council on Friday.

Jennifer Finley now represents the Polson District after defeating incumbent Charmel Gillin in the December election.

In Arlee District, former Representative Jim Malatare joins the Council. Malatare represented the Arlee district almost a decade ago. He lost his seat to Fyant in 2013, but won it back in 2021 as a written candidate.

Twoteeth is one of the two incumbents who retained their seats in the last election. The other is Carole Lankford from Ronan District.

The other current members of the Tribal Council are: Anita Matt of Dixon District, who served as Vice-President on the previous Council; Fred Matt of Saint Ignace; James “Bing” Matt d’Arlee; and Mike Dolson of Hot Springs.

After the leadership was elected, the Tribal Council took the time to honor longtime tribal lawyer Rhonda Swaney, who retired in December.

Swaney most recently served as the Tribal Attorney General, overseeing a team of 11 attorneys. She had held this position since 2014 and had been the legal representative of the tribes since 2005.

She was elected a member of the Tribal Council in 1994 and was the first woman elected to the presidency.

Swaney was instrumental in securing passage of the CSKT-Montana Water Compact and expanding tribal water rights.

Prior to working for the tribes, she worked in the Northwestern Regional Office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Portland.


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