Durglo Takes Over as Tribal Chairman on Flathead Indian Reservation

By Beacon Staff

Joe Durglo of St. Ignatius has been selected as chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation, replacing previous chairman E.T. “Bud” Moran.

Tribal members did not reelect Moran to the council to represent the Pablo district during elections in late December, opening the door for a new leader. The council chose Durglo at a Jan. 6 meeting. His two-year term runs until 2014.

“I’m honored council has chosen me as their chairman as we face challenges in the next two years,” Durglo said.

Durglo graduated from Montana State University in 1985 with a degree in business administration. According to a press release, he worked for the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project and spent 15 years in economic development before joining the council. He was part of the team that created S&K Development, which built the KwaTaqNuk Resort in Polson, and also helped establish S&K Holding and Sovereign Leasing and Financing.

Durglo serves on the State Tribal Economic Development Commission and is president of the Intertribal Timber Council, a nationwide consortium “dedicated to improving the management of natural resources of importance to Native American communities,” according to the organization’s website.

The new chairman will be responsible for overseeing 1,200 employees directly employed by the tribes, according to statistics provided by tribal communications director Robert McDonald. The tribes also employ another 400 or so employees at other tribal entities, such as Salish Kootenai College and KwaTaqNuk Resort. The tribes’ annual payroll is $30 million with another $35 million in vendor payments.

Durglo’s business experience may prove valuable as the tribes approach their probable takeover of the Kerr Dam in 2015. The tribes are preparing to acquire the dam from PPL Montana with the help of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Taking over the hydroelectric dam has been a goal of the tribes for more than 30 years.

In order to ensure a smooth transition in 2015, the tribes must hire and train personnel, including dam engineers and operators. Officials at PPL Montana have indicated they will assist the tribes in training employees.

The tribes are also in the midst of water rights negotiations with the state of Montana.

Language and cultural issues will be another primary area of focus for Durglo, along with natural resource management, according to the release.

December’s tribal elections resulted in four new members joining the council, including two with past council experience. Ron Trahan served from 2000-2008 and Lloyd David Irvine served from 1992-1996 and 1998-2008. The other new members are James V. (Bing) Matt and Leonard W. Gray.

Carole Lankford, the longest-serving council member, will be vice chair under Durglo.

“I am encouraged by the diversity and depth of experience and background shown by council,” Durglo said.