Category Archives: Water Rights

5/5/2012 Common Dreams UN: US Must Return Stolen Land to Native Americans UN wraps up 'contentious study' of Native American communities

5/5/2012 Published on Saturday, May 5, 2012 by Common Dreams United Nations: US Must Return Stolen Land to Native Americans UN wraps up ‘contentious study’ of Native American communities – Common Dreams staff In an investigation monitoring ongoing discrimination against Native Americans, the United Nations has requested that the US government return some of the stolen land back to Native Americans, as a necessary move towards combating systemic racial discrimination. James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, “said that in nearly two weeks of visiting Indian reservations, indigenous communities in Alaska and Hawaii, and Native Americans now living in cities, he encountered people who suffered a history of dispossession of their lands and resources, the breakdown of their societies and ‘numerous instances of outright brutality, all grounded on racial discrimination,'” the Guardian reports.

“You can see they’re in a somewhat precarious situation in terms of their basic existence and the stability of their communities given that precarious land tenure situation. It’s not like they have large fisheries as a resource base to sustain them. In basic economic terms it’s a very difficult situation. You have upwards of 70% unemployment on the reservation and all kinds of social ills accompanying that. Very tough conditions,” Anaya stated.

“I’m talking about restoring to indigenous peoples what obviously they’re entitled to and they have a legitimate claim to in a way that is not divisive but restorative. That’s the idea behind reconciliation.”

4/27/2012 Media Release: Forgotten People go to United Nations to secure human right to housing and water

4 27 2012 FP Media Release Right to Water and Housing“>

4/27/2012 Statement of Glenna Begay to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, OHCHR

4 24 2012_Glenna Begay_Speaker FP_Land & Resources Speaker_to Special Rapporteur James Anaya“>

4/27/2012 Statement of Leonard Benally to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, OHCHR

4 24 2012 Leonard Benally_Speaker FP_Self Mr James Anaya“>

4/27/2012 Statement of Norris Nez, Hathalie (Medicine Man) to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, OHCHR

4 24 2012_Norris Nez_Medicine Man_Land & Mr James Anaya“>

4/27/2012 Statement of Marlene Benally to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, OHCHR

4 24 2012_Marlene Benally_Speaker FP_Land & Resources_to Special Rapporteur James Anaya

4/27/2012 Statement of Mary Lane to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, OHCHR

4 24 2012_Mary Lane_Speaker FP Open Forum_to_Special Rapporteur James Anaya“>

4/27/2011 Statement of Leta O'Daniel to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, OHCHR

4 24 2012_Leta ODaniel_Speaker FP_Self Gov_to Special Rapporteur James Anaya“>

12/21/2011 NNHRC opposes groundwater use for artificial snowmaking on Dook’o’osliid

The council needs to reject this proposed legislation [No. 0420-11],” said Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission Chairperson Duane H. Yazzie. … “The central question of the issue is our argument that the Snowbowl Ski enterprise and the U.S. Forest Service are infringing on the religious freedom rights of 13 indigenous nations of Arizona. We continue to argue that position and that position must remain at the forefront and not take away from it by discussing what water should be used to make artificial snow.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2011: NNHRC opposes groundwater use for artificial snowmaking on Dook’o’osliid: ST. MICHAELS, Ariz.—The heart of the issue is the infringement of indigenous human rights in the matter of religious freedom stated a Navajo human rights official about the off- course legislation set for a vote by the Navajo Nation on Thursday, December 22, 2011, in Window Rock, Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission opposed Honorable Walter Phelps’ Legislation No. 0420-11, 3-0, on November 4, 2011, to send a responsible consistent message to the Navajo Nation to protect the integrity of Dook’o’osliid from irreversible adverse effects.

“The [Navajo Nation Human Rights] Commission hereby opposes Legislation No. 0420-11 which supports the use of groundwater to be used to produce artificial snow on the San Francisco Peaks for recreational and economic purposes,” according to NNHRCNOV-09-11 legislation. “The [Navajo Nation Human Rights] Commission further recommends that the Navajo Nation Council continue to support the Special Rapporteur report regarding the San Francisco Peaks and that true consultation – in the context of free, prior and informed consent—occur through procedures of dialogue aimed at a consensus on protecting the San Francisco Peaks from further desecration.”

Hon. Walter Phelps introduced the “groundwater legislation” on October 6, 2011, and it was assigned to the Resources and Development Committee where members narrowly opposed it on October 25, 2011, and to the Náabik’iyáti’ Committee of the 22ndNavajo Nation Council set to address it on Thursday, December 22, 2011.

The upcoming groundwater legislation, which has received written public scrutiny, states, “The Navajo Nation believes it is in the best interest of the Navajo People that groundwater rather than reclaimed or recovered-reclaimed water be used to make artificial snow thereby preventing Dook’o’osliid from being desecrated by reclaimed or recovered-reclaimed water.”

“The council needs to reject this proposed legislation [No. 0420-11],” said Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission Chairperson Duane H. Yazzie. “If it were to approve the legislation, it would send a mixed signal and demonstrate to the world that the Náabik’iyáti’ Committee is taking a position that is adverse to the established position of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, the Diné medicine groups, the Hopi Nation, the 10 other Arizona tribes and concerned citizen groups.”

Yazzie continued, “The central question of the issue is our argument that the Snowbowl Ski enterprise and the U.S. Forest Service are infringing on the religious freedom rights of 13 indigenous nations of Arizona. We continue to argue that position and that position must remain at the forefront and not take away from it by discussing what water should be used to make artificial snow.”

“It is also a basic premise that ‘making’ snow is not within the domain of human kind,” said Yazzie. “Instead that is a power reserved by the Creator and we, as Christians or traditional believers to infringe on that power or support it, is a desecration in itself of the highest order.”

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Rachelle Todea, Public Information Officer

Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission

P.O. Box 1689

Window Rock, Navajo Nation (AZ)  86515

Phone: (928) 871-7436

Fax: (928) 871-7437

rtodea@navajo-nsn.gov

www.nnhrc.navajo-nsn.gov

“Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development,” according to Article 3 of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, G.A. Res. 61/295, U.N. Doc A/RES/295 (Sept. 13, 2007), 46 I.L.M 1013 (2007).

11/5/2011 Zarbin: Tribes have role in Ariz.'s water future Indian – Tribes have unfair advantage in Ariz.'s water future

11/5/2011 The Arizona Republic: Zarbin: Tribes have role in Ariz.’s water future Indian – Tribes have unfair advantage in Ariz.’s water future: Indian tribes are expected to play significant roles in central Arizona’s water future, but they get little recognition of this in the media. For instance, in the past two months, The Arizona Republic has printed columns about two new institutional reports about central Arizona’s water future, but neither article mentioned Indian tribes, much less explained the part they play in the coming drama. In “Watering the Sun Corridor: Managing Choices in Arizona’s Megapolitan Area,” issued by the Morrison Institute at Arizona State University, several hundred words are spent on the Indians, including the possibility that tribes will use 500,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water imported through the Central Arizona Project for agriculture instead of leasing it to cities for people to use.

“This policy choice,” wrote chief Sun Corridor author Grady Gammage Jr., “might be made by central Arizona’s tribal communities. At an average use of 150 GPCD (gallons per capita daily), that’s 2.9 million fewer people to be accommodated.”

If, as Gammage stated in The Republic Aug. 21 (Viewpoints), “the Sun Corridor … watering system can likely support about 9.5 million people at current rates of consumption — but to do that will require virtually eliminating commercial agriculture,” and Indian tribes make a “policy choice” to continue commercial agriculture, what do those 2.9 million people do for water?

Indeed, how did central Arizona Indian reservations come to be in the position of one day being able to decide whether they prefer to farm or to continue to lease water to cities so that 2.9 million urbanites in the Sun Corridor will have water?

Today’s Sun Corridor residents, as well as those in the generations to come, deserve to have a clear understanding of how and why a considerable portion of their water future came to be put into the hands of Indians and what, if anything, could or should be done about it.

The story of how this came about is much too complicated and lengthy to be told in this brief commentary, but an inkling of what is involved may begin to emerge by understanding that less than 5 percent of the state’s 2010 population of 6,392,017 living on Indian reservations control a little more than 51 percent of Arizona’s yearly Colorado River water-surface supply of 2,800,000 acre-feet.

(Gammage pointed out that an acre-foot of water, 325,851 gallons, is “enough to support about five people per year, not including agriculture, mining and other industry.”)

The 51 percent of the state’s Colorado River water controlled by Indian tribes includes almost 46 percent, 650,724 acre-feet, of the water brought from the Colorado River to the Sun Corridor counties of Maricopa, Pinal and Pima by the Central Arizona Project.

Just two of these tribal groups, with one-third of 1 percent of the state’s 2010 population, have been given almost 1 million acre-feet of Arizona’s yearly Colorado River water entitlement. The tribal groups are the Gila River Indian Community, whose reservation abuts metropolitan Phoenix on the south, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes, along the Colorado River.

With about 19,000 residents, the two reservations have 974,202 acre-feet of Colorado River water. The Gila River Reservation is entitled to 311,800 acre-feet and the Colorado River Reservation 662,402 acre-feet.

This seems excessive to this observer, but, then, what does he understand of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides for “the equal protection of the laws.” As George Orwell wrote in “Animal Farm,” “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

The second institutional study, “Arizona at the Crossroads: Water Scarcity or Water Sustainability,” provided by the Grand Canyon Institute and reported in The Republic Oct. 3, doesn’t even mention Indian involvement.

What are Arizonans of the future, or today for that matter, to think about the unfair distribution of Arizona’s Colorado River water and the fact that Indian tribes can so drastically impact the off-reservation water picture?

But, then, maybe we aren’t expected to think or to be concerned and are simply to ignore that non-Indians have not been treated alike.

Earl Zarbin, a retired reporter and editor for The Republic, is the author of six history books, four of them about Arizona water.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2011/11/04/20111104zarbin05-tribes-role-arizs-water-future.html#ixzz1dvKhCn1W