Interior Secretary Sally Jewell thanked the leaders of the tribes - Photo Vincent Schilling

Vincent Schilling

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell thanked the leaders of the tribes.

Interior Secretary Jewell, Deputy Secretary Connor Celebrate Indian Water Rights Settlements

Historic Day benefits tribes in Montana, Oklahoma, and California

On Friday, January 13, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Deputy Secretary Michael L. Connor joined with tribes and members of Congress to celebrate the enactment of four historic Indian water rights settlements that will benefit nine tribes.

The celebration included leaders from the Blackfeet Tribe, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, the La Jolla, Rincon, San Pasqual, Pauma and Pala Bands of Mission Indians, and the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians.

U.S. Congressman Tom Cole was also in attendance, along with a number of tribal leaders.

U.S. Congressman Tom Cole greets NCAI President Brian Cladoosby at the DOI - Photo Vincent Schilling

Vincent Schilling

U.S. Congressman Tom Cole greets NCAI President Brian Cladoosby at the DOI

During the announcement and celebration, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell thanked the leaders of the tribes in attendance and informed the attendees that the Obama Administration has reached more water settlements than any administration in history.

“With these four agreements, the Obama Administration has completed a dozen landmark Indian water rights settlements – more than any previous administration – that put an end to complex and litigious water rights controversies for 20 tribes in New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, California and Nevada,” Secretary Jewell said. “Today’s celebration marks not only these incredible accomplishments, but the start of a new journey working together to implement these hard-won settlements.

Deputy Secretary Connor addressed tribal leaders on January 13th. - Photo Vincent Schilling

Vincent Schilling

Deputy Secretary Connor addressed tribal leaders on January 13th.

“The settlements, which have been a top priority of this Administration, represent the culmination of generations of hard work and dedication by the tribes and their neighbors,” said Deputy Secretary Connor.

“Each of the settlements had widespread local and bipartisan congressional support, and implementing the agreements will bring much needed investments to Indian country, help stabilize water supplies in various communities, and improve water resources management for all concerned, including non-Indian communities.”

According to the Department of the Interior release, the tribes will be benefiting from $3 billion in funding authorized for Indian water rights settlements to help in providing safe drinking water and support for economic development such as hydroelectric power, agricultural improvement and more in the face of the need for water on many Indian reservations.

The tribes honored and recognized by Interior included the Blackfeet, Pechanga, San Luis Rey and Choctaw and Chickasaw tribal nations. - Photo Vincent Schilling

Vincent Schilling

The tribes honored and recognized by Interior included the Blackfeet, Pechanga, San Luis Rey and Choctaw and Chickasaw tribal nations.

The tribes listed by Interior and the corresponding benefits are as follows:

The Blackfeet settlement reflects decades of struggle and commitment by the Tribe – and negotiations with the State of Montana – to quantify and secure a tribal water right of more than 800,000 acre-feet while protecting the rights of existing water users. The settlement includes funding for the Tribe to develop and manage its water resources.

The Pechanga settlement, which will partially settle litigation filed by the United States in 1951, was achieved only after a long and arduous struggle. The Pechanga Band negotiated the settlement with its neighbors, the Rancho California Water District, Eastern Municipal Water District and the Metropolitan Water District. The Band has tirelessly pursued the quantification of its water rights and engaged its neighbors in a multi-year process of building mutual trust and understanding. The resulting settlement benefits all of the parties, securing adequate water supplies for tribal members and encouraging cooperative water resources management among all parties.

The Choctaw and Chickasaw settlement in Oklahoma – the first Indian water settlement to be finalized in that state – reflects a unique and collaborative approach to water management in the Nations’ historic treaty territories. It will advance a collaborative approach to water management and help achieve water security for the State of Oklahoma and the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. The settlement includes important protections for the Nations’ future and existing water rights, conserves water resources and provides for cooperation in the regulation of water use.

The San Luis Rey settlement allows full implementation of amendments to the 1988 San Luis Rey Indian Water Rights Settlement Act that benefits the La Jolla, Rincon, San Pasqual, Pauma and Pala Bands of Mission Indians in southern California. The agreement allows the five Bands and the local parties to realize the full benefits of the 1988 Act, including: expressly recognizing the continuing federal reserved water rights of the Bands; addressing the fair allocation of water among the Bands; protecting the water rights of allottees; waiving all past claims the Bands may have against the U.S. regarding water rights and breach of trust relating to water rights; and allowing the Bands to access a trust fund established in 1988 that has now grown to approximately $60 million.

Deputy Secretary Mike Connor shares a lighthearted moment with NCAI President Brian Cladoosby on January 13th. - Photo Vincent Schilling

Vincent Schilling

Deputy Secretary Mike Connor shares a lighthearted moment with NCAI President Brian Cladoosby on January 13th.

1.Intergenerational Trauma- Understanding Natives’ Inherited Pain_Azo Sans Bold Smooth 18pt font_webpage cover pic

Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding Natives’ Inherited Pain

Download our free report, Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding Natives’ Inherited Pain, to understand this fascinating concept.


Among those honored standing on the exterior patio at the DOI. (left to right) Brian McClain (Choctaw), Choctaw Nation Executive Director Stephen Greetham, Chickasaw Nation General Counsel Bob Rabon, outside general counsel to Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations Neal McCaleb (Chickasaw), Chickasaw Nation Ambassador At-Large Judge Michael Burrage (Choctaw), outside general counsel to Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations. - Photo Vincent Schilling

Vincent Schilling

Among those honored standing on the exterior patio at the DOI. (left to right) Brian McClain (Choctaw), Choctaw Nation Executive Director Stephen Greetham, Chickasaw Nation General Counsel Bob Rabon, outside general counsel to Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations Neal McCaleb (Chickasaw), Chickasaw Nation Ambassador At-Large Judge Michael Burrage (Choctaw), outside general counsel to Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations.

During the event, many tribal leaders came to the podium to express appreciation to the Obama Administration and spoke of the decades-long fights for justice they had endured.

Chickasaw Nation Ambassador at Large Neal McCaleb noted how the Bureau of Indian affairs had not been a friendly ally in history, but now the Interior Department had made considerable progress in restoring long-needed water rights.

Leaders of the Blackfeet Nation spoke well of incoming Secretary Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) and due to his positive history in working with tribes, said they were hopeful for continous progress in the upcoming administration.

Many leaders expressed the event was a 'long time coming" - Photo Vincent Schilling

Vincent Schilling

Many leaders, such as Victoria Diaz—council woman for the San Pasqual Band,  celebrating the San Luis Rey settlement, expressed the event was a ‘long time coming.”

Geneva Fitzsimmons, Vice Chair of the San Luis Rey Authority perhaps summed up the day’s event with a sincere statement of appreciation. “This is more than just a water rights settlement. It is a lifetime of work and effort. It wasn’t always easy. I dreamed of this day.”

Follow Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) – ICMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow, Sports Editor, News Photographer and Political Contributor –

Comments

Comments are closed.

Credit Card Identification Number

This number is recorded as an additional security precaution.

americanexpress

American Express

4 digit, non-embossed number printed above your account number on the front of your card.
visa

Visa

3-digit, non-embossed number printed on the signature panel on the of the card immediately following the card account number.
mastercard

MasterCard

3-digit, non-embossed number printed on the signature panel on the back of the card.

Enter Your Log In Credentials

Send this to friend

Hi,
I thought you might find this interesting:
Interior Secretary Jewell, Deputy Secretary Connor Celebrate Indian Water Rights Settlements

URL: https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/politics/interior-secretary-jewell-deputy-secretary-connor-celebrate-indian-water-rights-settlements/