A federal judge in Kansas City, Kan., has ruled against the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas in its suit against a water district.
In a decision rendered by Judge Carlos Murguia on December 20, 2013, in in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in Kansas City, the Kickapoo Tribe was ruled against in its suit against the Nemaha-Brown Watershed Joint District No. 7. The tribe was asking the water district to use its powers of eminent domain to procure some of the non-Indian land needed for the Plum Creek Reservoir project. The tribe’s reservation lies almost entirely within the water district.
The Plum Creek Reservoir project was integral to a watershed plan signed in 1994. The watershed plan, meant for soil conservation and flood prevention, included 20 flood-retarding dams, as well as, according to Murguia’s order, a “multipurpose dam with recreational facilities, otherwise known as the ‘Plum Creek Project.”
The tribe filed suit in federal court June 14, 2006.
Attorneys for the water district argued that the contract for the watershed plan didn’t require the use of eminent domain, and both sides petitioned Murguia for summary judgment in their favor.
Murguia ultimately granted summary jugdment to the water district. His decision said that the agreement stated that eminent domain could be used, not that it must be. “The court finds that the agreement is unambiguous and that the plain language of the agreement does not require the district to condemn on the tribe’s behalf,” Murguia wrote.