The Supreme courts ruling could make it more difficult for tribes to secure water rights in the future
KSUT | KSJD | By Clark Adomaitis
The Supreme Court's ruling in Arizona v. Navajo Nation has been met with concern from tribal attorneys nationwide. The ruling calls into question the trustee relationship between tribes and the federal government, and it could significantly impact the ability of tribes to secure water resources.
Peter Ortego, General Counsel for the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, says that the right to water is implied in the 1868 treaty, even if it's not explicitly mentioned. He argues that the recent ruling against the Navajo Nation creates a legal gray area and that it's now less clear what the US must provide to tribes.
If federal courts continue to weaken the legal responsibilities of the US as a trustee to tribes, tribal attorneys like Peter Orego will have to be more assertive. In his dissenting opinion for the minority, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch said as much.
The ruling in Arizona v. Navajo Nation is a setback for the Navajo Nation and other tribes, but it is not the end of the fight for water rights. Tribal attorneys will continue to advocate for their clients and will likely challenge the ruling in the future.
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