Phoenix/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on June 10, 2024
Navajo Nation President Advocates for Water Rights Settlements in D.C., Addressing Critical Needs of Southwestern TribesSource: THE NAVAJO NATION - Office of the President

In a series of meetings in Washington, D.C., Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren, along with other tribal leaders, have sought to underline the urgency of securing water rights for their tribes. Speaking with various government officials and Arizona's and New Mexico's congressional delegations, the President advocated for the settlement agreements that promise access to Colorado River water among other resources.

As reported by ABC15, these historic agreements, if approved, hold the potential for significant advancements in access to water for the Navajo, Hopi, and San Juan Southern Paiute tribes. A notable aspect of the proposal includes a pipeline project from Lake Powell, emphasized President Nygren in his interview. "I think one of the important things is to have a unified front from the Hopi Tribe, along with ourselves and the San Juan Pauite, to make sure we fight for water for northern Arizona," Nygren expressed, bearing the weight of decades-long needs for his community.

Navajo Council Speaker Crystalyne Curley highlighted that the issue of water rights extends far beyond resource management, touching the very core of tribal identity and survival. According to ABC15, "We are 100 years into our government and really thinking about claiming what is ours," says Speaker Curley. "And that includes both ground and surface water and not only are we doing this for the next 5-10 years, but this is for the next 100 years."

In detailing the critical components of the water settlements to government officials, President Nygren underlined the existential threat water holds to the Navajo Nation. As stated by the Official Site of the Navajo Nation, he said, "Water is life," underscoring this encounter as a potential turning point for enduring solutions. The agreement would assign the Navajo Nation 44,700 acre-feet of water per year from the Arizona allocation of the Upper Colorado Basin, among other provisions.

The timeliness of this lobbying effort is made stark against the backdrop of the prolonged Southwestern drought. Justin Ahasteen, executive director of the Navajo Nation Washington Office, spoke to the urgency of the water settlements, stating that the meetings with DOI officials and congressional members bring hope for future support. "The commitment expressed by federal officials to work with these tribes on these matters is a positive sign that the urgent need for sustainable water necessities may soon be addressed," Ahasteen told the Official Site of the Navajo Nation.