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Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, Idaho

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The Business Council has scheduled a May 25 meeting with landowners and a BIA representative to clear up a trespass problem involving three utilities. The utilities' lines cross the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, which the business council says does not uphold BIA trust responsibility to the tribes. The meeting will address how much Idaho Power, Utah Power and Northwest Pipeline will pay landowners for rights-of-way easements. Coordinator of the Fort Hall Landowners Association Ernestine Werelus said Utah Power has been in trespass for nine years, Idaho Power for four and Northwest Pipeline for five. Werelus also said negotiations with Idaho Power have stalled because the business council is considering establishing a tribally owned utility company. But Fort Hall tribal officials will need to make sure landowners collect money owed them by some of the utilities because they lease private land. Werelus said the Fort Hall Business Council is calling in the BIA to show the utilities the tribes have official support from the government. "It hurts our efforts to negotiate when the utility companies know we don't have official support from the council," she said.