Tuesday, April 16, 2024
08 December 2023
Facebook Live Series with Navajo Nation DOJ

Facebook Live Series with Navajo Nation DOJ

In a groundbreaking initiative to foster transparency and community engagement, the Navajo Nation Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to launch an informative Facebook Live series on Water Rights. Running every Friday at noon throughout the upcoming month, this series aims to unravel the intricacies of Navajo water rights, shedding light on the legal, cultural, and environmental dimensions that shape this critical aspect of our community. This event will be hosted on Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren's Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/PresidentNygren)

Throughout the series, expect in-depth discussions on various topics, including the historical context of water rights within the Navajo Nation, ongoing legal battles, and the proactive measures being taken to secure a reliable water future. Community members are encouraged to participate actively, asking questions and sharing insights to enrich the conversation.

12 July 2023
Making Progress in Montezuma Creek

Making Progress in Montezuma Creek

Making Progress in Montezuma Creek – Navajo Nation Leaders Meet to Discuss Water in Utah

July 12th, 2023

PHOTO: Navajo Utah Commission members attend a special meeting regarding updates on the Navajo-Utah Water Rights Settlement.

Montezuma Creek, Utah – On June 30th, the Navajo Utah Commission (NUC) held a special meeting in Montezuma Creek at the DinĂ© Professional Building. The Commission includes 8 members including 3 Navajo Nation Council Delegates members, namely Shaandiin Parrish (Chilchinbeto, Dennehotso, Kayenta), Herman Daniels, Jr. (Tsah Bii Kin, Navajo Mountain, Shonto, and Oljato), and Curtis Yanito (Mexican Water, To’likan, Teecnospos, Aneth, and Red Mesa). The meeting was facilitated by Patricia Blackhorn, Chairperson. Clarence Rockwell, Executive Director of the NUC was also present. The purpose of the meeting was to provide an update on the implementation progress of the Navajo-Utah Water Rights Settlement. 

The meeting began with an update from Dr. Crystal Tulley-Cordova, Principal Hydrologist with the Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources - Water Management Branch. She described the State of Utah adjudication process, and the Hydrographic Survey Reporting is still in progress. She explained water infrastructure projects that were identified in 2014 to secure the $210 million Navajo - Utah Water Rights Settlement funding. She assured the Navajo Utah Commission that water infrastructure projects using the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement funding have yet to be determined. She highlighted there is a need to reassess the status of projects previously identified and determine the existing water infrastructure project needs given the funding opportunities for Navajo Utah water infrastructure projects funded by the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Thereafter, Ms. Eunice Tso of ETD, Inc. gave a presentation regarding the Navajo Water Rights Commission’s public outreach effort. She outlined the components of the public outreach plan. She mentioned the importance of developing the public’s support for water projects. Mr. Clarence Rockwell mentioned that the NUC would like a more detailed workshop on this concept plan that would include Navajo Utah Chapter leaders in the Navajo language along with background information to help them fully understand the plan.

29 June 2023
Navajo Nation Water Rights Intact After SCOTUS Ruling

Navajo Nation Water Rights Intact After SCOTUS Ruling

NAVAJO NATION WATER RIGHTS INTACT AFTER SCOTUS RULING
Supreme Court’s decision opens opportunities for litigation, legislation to secure water claims

(Navajo Nation officials, legal team, and elder statesman at the Supreme Court after oral arguments in Arizona v. Navajo Nation) Photo Credit: Navajo Nation Department of Justice

WINDOW ROCK, NAVAJO NATION – Thursday, June 29, 2023—Last week’s Supreme Court decision in Arizona et al. v. Navajo Nation did not give the relief the Nation sought, which was a modest request for the United States to assess the Nation’s water needs and develop a plan to meet them. The decision does not take away from or touch upon any of the Nation’s existing water rights. In fact, the decision made key points that give the Nation additional options moving forward to secure a future claim to water from the Colorado River to support future generations of Navajo communities, agriculture and livestock.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling does not say that we have lost any water rights; our water rights remain intact. In this case, we simply asked the United States as trustee to help the Navajo Nation quantify how much water the Navajo people have a right to, and they turned us away,” said Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren. “Water is sacred to the Navajo people, and it is needed in all areas of development. For the Navajo Nation to develop and prosper, and meet the needs of our growing population, we need to know how much water we have access to.”

The 5-4 decision held that the Navajo’s 1849 and 1868 Treaties do not require the United States to take “affirmative steps” to secure water for the Nation. However, the decision made an important acknowledgement – it agreed that the government holds water rights in trust for the Navajo Nation, which is critical to future water claims.

“We want to tell the Navajo people that our claim to rights of the Colorado River were not lost in the ruling. It is important that we stay positive as leadership even though we are put back in a familiar position as Navajo people have been urging this reconciliation for years. If anything, this ruling motivates us to get back in the fight for our homelands and claims to water,” said Navajo Nation Council Speaker Crystalyne Curley.

Though the Court’s decision may seem devastating to the Nation’s water rights, it actually gave the Nation options to pursue by upholding Winters v. United States, the bedrock of federal Indian water law. The majority’s opinion left open the possibility that the Nation can intervene in (Continue Reading).

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