Fort Peck Tribe dedicates water treatment plant

Fort Peck Tribe dedicates water treatment plant
Caleb Shields, former tribal chairman for the Fort Peck Tribe, cuts the ribbon at the Wambdi Wahachanka (Eagle Shield) Water Treatment Facility plant dedication ceremony. (Photos by Richard Peterson)

Members of the Fort Peck Tribe recently dedicated the new water treatment facility on the Assiniboine and Sioux Reservation in northeastern Montana.

Caleb Shields, former tribal chairman, worked for 20 years to get a water pipeline to the 2-million-acre reservation. The Wambdi Wahachanka (Eagle Shield) Water Treatment Facility is named after Shields’ Indian name.

"It’s a great honor to have the plant named after me,” he says. Shields was one of several speakers at the dedication, providing a history of his efforts in jumpstarting the project.   

The Assiniboine and Sioux Reservation Rural Water System includes 3,200 miles of pipeline and will deliver 13.6 million gallons of potable water from the Missouri River to residents on and off the reservation.

During an oil boom in the area in the 1950s, water used by oil companies was piped underground rather than being hauled away. Communities on the reservation were fed by that contaminated groundwater, so a water treatment plant providing clean water has been long anticipated.

Shields attributes the contaminated water to residents’ health problems and disease. “I hope in the future people’s health is improved,” he says.

He also recognizes the work of the tribe for their dedication to the cause. “Persistence made the project possible,” he says.  


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