U.S. Supreme Court to hear Navajo Nation case with broad implications for Tribal rights
The phrase Water is Life is a self-evident truth. It’s readily apparent in the southwestern United States, where a growing population and the climate crisis are taxing water supplies.
The Navajo Nation spreads across three southwestern states: New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Its been dealing with a water crisis for a long time. It sued the United States, saying the federal Indian trust responsibility requires it to assess the Navajo Nation’s water supply and to address the shortfall if it isn’t sufficient.
On April 28, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed, writing that the U.S. Department of the Interior and its Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), have ” an irreversible and dramatically important trust duty requiring them to ensure adequate water for the health and safety of the Navajo Nation’s inhabitants.”
The U.S. Department of Justice, and the state of Nevada and others appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to reverse that decision. On Nov. 4, the Court agreed to hear the case. The schedule hasn’t been set.
The central issue before the Supreme Court is whether the federal Indian trust responsibility includes guaranteeing Tribal access to water as an essential piece of its commitment to provide Tribes a permanent homeland.Continue reading