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Mainstem Lower Colorado River Basin Arizona

District Court Litigation (Navajo Nation v. United States Department of the Interior, CIV 03 0507 JWS, U.S. District Court, Arizona).

This litigation was filed in 2003 and challenges decisions made by the Secretary of the Interior concerning the management of the Colorado River. The Second Amended Complaint alleges that the Secretary failed to adequately consider Navajo Nation trust assets, including its lands and unquantified water rights, in making these decisions and violated both the procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the trust responsibility the United States owes to Indian tribes. Various parties from the States of Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado intervened in this matter. The case was stayed from October 2004 to May 2013 to allow the parties to pursue a negotiated resolution of the underlying claims of the Navajo Nation to water from the Colorado River within the Lower Colorado River Basin, including the Little Colorado River Basin, but ultimately settlement efforts were unsuccessful. On July 22, 2014, the District Court entered an order dismissing the case. (The Hopi Tribe also sought to intervene, but its motion was denied as moot when the case was dismissed.)

  • Second Amended Complaint
  • US Motion to Dismiss
  • District Court Order of Dismissal
Court of Appeals Litigation. (Navajo Nation v. United States Department of the Interior, CIV 14-16864, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals).

The Nation appealed the decision of the District Court on September 19, 2014. The Nation argues on appeal that, contrary to the ruling of the District Court, the Nation’s Complaint adequately alleges a procedural violation of NEPA and that the Administrative Procedures Act waives the sovereign immunity of the United States so that the District Court had jurisdiction to consider the Nation’s breach of trust claims. The briefing of the arguments is complete and the matter is awaiting oral argument.

  • Navajo Nation Opening Brief
  • US Answer Brief
  • Navajo Nation Reply Brief
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