March 21, 2023
The Stars and Stripes and the Navajo Nation flags flying above the entrance to the Navajo National Monument in Arizona.(Paul Marshall/Yorkie Paul / Adobe Stock)

Navajo Nation Holds Government Promise over Water Rights in Supreme Court

KUNC | By Alex Hager

The Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on the Navajo Nation’s right to file a lawsuit over access to water from the Colorado River.

Tribes hold some of the largest and oldest rights to water from the Colorado River. Shay Dvoretsky, a lawyer for the Navajo Nation, says the tribe is owed federal help to assess and meet its water needs.

“The United States thinks that it alone decides whether it has made good on its promises. But that's not how promises work. A promise is a solemn duty, and the United States' duty is to see that the Nation has the water it needs, and the United States promised.”

This case, Arizona v. Navajo Nation, arrives at the Supreme court after 20 years of negotiations and litigation. More than two decades of drought are shrinking the river which supplies 40 million people across the Southwest. Demand on those resources remains steady.

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