UNITED STATES NEWS

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

May 24, 2024, 5:30 PM

Colorado River settlement center of new Navajo Nation push...

In a vote on Thursday, May 23, 2024, the Navajo Nation Council has unanimously approved a proposed water rights settlement that carries a price tag larger than any such agreement enacted by Congress. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

Within the heart of the Navajo Nation and in the shadow of the sandstone arch that is the namesake of the tribal capitol, a simple greeting and big smiles were shared over and over again Friday as tribal officials gathered: “Yá‘át’ééh abíní!”

It was a good morning indeed for Navajo President Buu Nygren as he signed legislation in Window Rock, Arizona, outlining a proposed water rights settlement that will ensure supplies from the Colorado River and other sources for three Native American tribes — as well as more security for drought-stricken Arizona.

The signature came a day after the tribal council voted unanimously in favor of the measure. It also was approved this week by the San Juan Southern Paiute and Hopi tribes.

Now, the three tribes will be working to get Congress’ approval for what could be the costliest water rights settlement in U.S. history.

Colorado River settlement center of new legislation

“We’ve got a tall, tall task,” Nygren told the crowd. “But we’re going to get it done.”

The Navajos have one of the largest single outstanding claims in the Colorado River basin and officials say the needs across the territory exceed the proposed price tag of $5 billion.

Nearly a third of homes in the Navajo Nation — spanning 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah — don’t have running water. Many homes on Hopi lands are similarly situated, and the San Juan Southern Paiute have been left for generations without a reservation — or water rights — to call their own.

Tribal leaders told The Associated Press in an interview Friday that the proposed settlement is about more than just a fundamental right to water, but marks a new path for cooperation among Native American tribes as they assert rights to harness natural resources and plan for the future amid the worsening effects of climate change.

While efforts to negotiate an agreement have been generations in the making, the leaders said the ongoing drought and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic were among the challenges that drove the latest round of talks.

Navajo Council Speaker Crystalyne Curley said Friday that the importance of having clean, reliable sources of drinking water became even more apparent during the pandemic. She talked about Navajo families who have to drive many miles to pick up water and haul it home and making due with just several gallons a day.

Other non-tribal parties to the settlement must still approve the measure, but tribal officials and their attorneys are hoping that discussions in Congress are well underway before the November election.

Congress has enacted nearly three dozen tribal water rights settlements across the U.S. over the last four decades. According to the U.S. Interior Department, federal negotiation teams are working on another 22 agreements involving dozens of tribes.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

United States News

Associated Press

Man in custody after 4 found dead in Brooklyn apartment attack, NYPD says

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department says it has taken a man into custody in connection with the deaths of a grandmother, a mother and her two children in the family’s Brooklyn apartment. Police said in a statement Saturday that officers responded to a report late Friday night of an assault, and […]

19 minutes ago

Passengers wait at Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City, Friday, July 19, 2024. Some...

Associated Press

8.5 million computers running Windows affected by faulty update from CrowdStrike

As the world continues to recover from massive business and travel disruptions caused by a faulty software update from cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, malicious actors are trying to exploit the situation for their own gain. Government cybersecurity agencies across the globe and even CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz are warning businesses and individuals around the world about […]

2 hours ago

FILE - This April 18, 2024, photo released by the Utah Department of Corrections shows death row in...

Associated Press

Utah scraps untested lethal drug combination for man’s August execution

Utah officials said Saturday that they are scrapping plans to use an untested lethal drug combination in next month’s planned execution of a man in a 1998 murder case. They will instead seek out a drug that’s been used previously in executions in numerous states. Defense attorneys for Taberon Dave Honie, 49, had sued in […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Plane crash near Ohio airport kills 3; federal authorities investigating

VIENNA, Ohio (AP) — A plane trying to make an emergency landing at an airport in northeastern Ohio crashed, killing all three people aboard, authorities said. The Federal Aviation Administration said Saturday that the twin-engine Beechcraft 60 went down near the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Ohio at about 6:45 p.m. Friday. The Ohio State Highway […]

4 hours ago

Firefighters battle a fire at First Baptist Dallas church on Friday, July 19, 2024, in Dallas. (Chi...

Associated Press

A fire severely damages the historic First Baptist Dallas church sanctuary

A fire all but destroyed the historic church sanctuary at First Baptist Dallas, sending smoke billowing over the city but causing no deaths or injuries, Dallas firefighters said. The fire in the Texas Historic Landmark, a Victorian-style red brick church built in 1890, was reported about 6:30 p.m. Friday, and contained about three hours later, […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

New Hampshire Gov. Sununu signs bill banning transgender girls from girls’ sports

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire has signed a bill that would ban transgender athletes in grades 5-12 from teams that align with their gender identity, adding the state to nearly half in the nation that adopted similar measures. The bill passed by the Republican-led Legislature would require schools to […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement