Southeastern Oklahoma is home to Sardis Lake, which is in perfect position to supply both Oklahoma City and its suburbs, and new subdivisions around Fort Worth, Texas, 200 miles south.
However the Cherokee and Chocktaw tribes, exiled to these lands 175 years ago, want to reap some of the benefits, since it is technically their land, The New York Times reports.
“It is all Choctaw and Chickasaw water,” Gregory Pyle, chief of the Choctaw nation, told the newspaper for an April 11 story. He said they’d sue to be recognized as joint owners, if necessary.
Officials in quickly growing cities and suburbs, looking around for more water sources, may find themselves pitted against tribes for dwindling supplies.
“As droughts exacerbated by climate change and by population growth expand in the Great Plains and the Southwest, Indian water rights loom as a largely unsettled—and unsettling—factor that could affect the price and availability of water to millions of homes and businesses,” the Times said.