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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Supreme Court Verdict Keeps Navajos Waiting For Water

More than 150 years after the Navajo Nation signed treaties with the United States establishing its reservation and recognizing its sovereignty, the country’s largest tribe still struggles to secure the water guaranteed by those agreements, Anna V. Smith, High Country News and Umar Farooq and Mark Olalde reported for ProPublica.


Photo Insert: The Navajo Nation faces the same arduous paths to accessing water: either negotiate with Arizona or fight in state court.



The Navajo Nation sued in the hope of accelerating the process. The case, filed 20 years ago, had the potential of settling tribal water rights.


But the US Supreme Court (SC) last week dashed those hopes by deferring to the status quo the tribe has dealt with for decades. In a 5-4 decision, it denied the Navajo Nation’s bid that the federal government act manner to help the tribe quantify, settle and access water.



The federal government acts on tribes’ behalf by helping account for how much is needed and available.


Writing for the majority, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the tribe’s treaties do not impose “a duty on the US to take affirmative steps to secure water for the Tribe.”


Dylan Hedden-Nicely, director of the Native American Law Program at the University of Idaho and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, said that with the decision, “tribes should continue to be aggressive about pursuing their water rights and hope — at least from a political perspective — in holding the US to its trust obligations to protect tribes’ land and water.”


All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

Now, the Navajo Nation faces the same arduous paths to accessing water: either negotiate with Arizona or fight in state court.





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