“I am grateful that Tribes, some of whom have been waiting for this funding for decades, are finally getting the resources they are owed.”
After a meeting with the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced yesterday that the department would allocate $1.7 billion of federal infrastructure funding to fulfill settlements of Indian water rights.
“Water is a sacred resource, and water rights are crucial to ensuring the health, safety, and empowerment of Tribal communities. With this crucial funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Interior Department will be able to uphold our trust responsibilities and ensure that Tribal communities receive the water resources they have long been promised,” Haaland said in a statement. “I am grateful that Tribes, some of whom have been waiting for this funding for decades, are finally getting the resources they are owed.”
Disputes over Indian water rights are long-standing, are expensive to resolve, and hinder the management of water resources at the local, state, and national levels. According to the federal government, the settlement of Indian Water Rights is a process by which the water claims of major water rights holders are settled, providing certainty that improves water resource management.
According to the Interior, the new funding will help deliver long-promised water resources to tribal communities and a foundation for future economic development for communities dependent on common water resources.
Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, US Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, and US Reps. Raúl Grijalva, Tom O’Halleran, Greg Stanton, and Ruben Gallego joined Haaland as she made the announcement. Haaland also met with US Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.
Haaland also visited the Salt and Middle Gila River Watershed, which the Urban Waters Federal Partnership and Rio Salado Project are helping to revitalize. Urban Waters will bring together 15 federal agencies to work together with local communities to restore urban waterways and their environments to boost recreational opportunities, help local economies, create jobs, and protect the health of Americans.
Some of the tribes and settlements that will receive funding this year include:
- Aamodt Litigation Settlement (Pueblos of San Ildefonso, Nambe, Pojoaque, and Tesuque).
- Blackfeet Nation.
- Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
- Crow Nation.
- Gila River Indian Community.
- Navajo-Utah Water Rights Settlement and Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
- San Carlos Apache Nation.
- Tohono O’odham Nation.
- White Mountain Apache Tribe.