Friday January 6, 2023

Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior today celebrated significant progress by the 117th Congress to advance settlements of Indian water rights claims and to protect Tribal sovereignty, key priorities for the federal government’s efforts to uphold its trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal communities.

“Water is a sacred resource, and access to water is fundamental to human existence and economic development. Tribal water rights are crucial to ensuring the health, safety and empowerment of communities,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “The Biden-Harris Administration was proud to support these bills, and I am grateful to the bill sponsors and committee leaders for making progress in Congress to ensure that Tribes are finally getting the water resources they have long been promised.”

Indian water rights settlements help ensure that Tribal Nations have safe, reliable water supplies; improve environmental and health concerns on reservations; and enable economic growth. These settlements have the potential to end decades of controversy and contention among Tribal Nations and neighboring communities and promote cooperation in the management of water resources. Indian water rights settlements also promote community and economic development for regions surrounding Tribal communities, as conflicts are resolved and vital infrastructure is developed. At the Department, the Secretary’s Indian Water Rights Office manages, negotiates, and oversees implementation of Indian water rights claims and is committed to continuing to work with Tribes across the West as they seek to realize their long-promised water rights.

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