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The Navajo Nation went before the United States Supreme Court on Monday to argue it has a right to Colorado River water dating back to an 1868 treaty.
Matt Laslo reports from Washington.
There’s no running water on more than 30% of the Navajo Nation and households on the reservation that do have running water only have access to about one tenth of the water average U.S. households use.
“Broken promises,” reads the tribe’s brief before the Supreme Court.
After more than two decades of a drought in the southwest, tribes have been demanding a seat a the table.
“More tribes are actively pursuing their water rights. Yeah, it’s a big deal. It’s daunting.”
That’s Mark Macarro, tribal chair of the Pechanga Band of Indians in southern California and first vice president of the National Congress of American Indians.
“A lot of tribes have a right to water. That’s the whole premise of federal Indian water law.
When a homeland was created there’s an implied right to water comes with it. But beyond that, how much?”
The case could have far reaching impacts for tribes across the west, because two decades of drought have had lasting impacts, including on bringing reservoirs like Lake Powell to historic lows.
Christina Aspaas is Navajo from New Mexico.
“Look at Lake Powell now. That is so down, and a lot of that water also ran down the Little Colorado River, and that was also to our hydro plant and nobody talks to us. They make these plans up here with these industries, and nobody came to us to ask.”
The Biden White House is aligned with Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and some California water districts in opposing the Navajo Nation’s water claims.
An Indigenous professor is conducting a survey to learn more about the millions of American Indian and Alaska Native people living in urban areas.
Emma VandenEinde of the Mountain West News Bureau reports.
The nationally-reaching survey asks questions like if they live in an apartment or a house. It also asks about the conditions of their housing and their experience finding housing.
Sofia Locklear is a professor at Western University in Canada and she’s from the Lumbee tribe in North Carolina.
She launched the survey two months ago, and since then, she’s received nearly 800 responses from Indigenous people.
“That signals that, like people want to talk about this. You know, I’m getting emails, people saying, I really want to tell you my story about trying to find housing.”
There are no concrete results yet. But Locklear says responses reflect the country’s colonialism and racism towards Indigenous people.
“Everybody I’ve talked to sure has so far had some hard things happen in their experiences of finding housing, but they also are really brilliant at navigating that.”
Her goal is to use this data to inform policy and allocate funds to AIAN people.
Congratulations to our sister program Native America Calling, which is owned by our Alaska-based company Koahnic Broadcast Corporation.
The one-hour live call-in talk show, which connects listeners from across the country to Indigenous issues, has been awarded a National Humanities Medal.
President Joe Biden will present our President and CEO Jaclyn Sallee with the medal during a White House ceremony on Tuesday.
Watch the ceremony live:
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