‘It’s the lineage of the reserve’: Tribal scientists strive to connect Crow Nation to clean drinking water | State and regional







Emery Three Irons at his family home along the Little Bighorn River. Together with other tribesmen and scientists, Three Irons wants to track the exact sources of pollution in the river over the coming year.


Brandon Yadegari Moreno, High Country News


SURYA MILNER High Country News

Emery Three Irons, a member of the Crow tribe, stood in tall, lush grass on a late May day, gazing at a cream-colored house. After 20 minutes of thinking, he approached two 5-year-olds standing on the front porch, eating popsicles and playing with a puppy. “Is your grandfather awake?” He asked them, his soft voice barely rising above the hum of the nearby freeway. “Go ask him, Ivan,” the girl said to the boy. “No, go ask her,” the boy replied, before they both disappeared into the house.

Three Irons followed them into the living room to meet Everette Walks, a grandfather of Apsáalooke. The Walks Home is on the Apsáalooke, or Crow, Nation in Montana, not far from the Wyoming border. While the kids played hide and seek, Three Irons looked under the kitchen sink and examined a set of exposed pipes, speaking with Walks in the Apsáalooke language about the connection of one of the property’s two sinks. to a working pump. For three months, Walks, who works nights at the Rosebud mine in Colstrip, his wife Kim and their grandchildren lived in the house without running water. When Kim broke her arm a few months ago, she had to have an operation. “Not having water makes it more difficult,” Everette said.

The visit was part of a new project for Three Irons, a GIS analyst for the Crow Water Quality Project, a group of scientists from Little Big Horn College and Montana State University working to improve access to clean water in the Crow Nation. In early summer, he began conducting home assessments in rural areas, looking for ways to install potable running water in the many homes without plumbing.

About Michael B. Billingsley

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