Feb 23, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Interior to pay $1.7B to fulfill tribal water rights settlements

Photo of Deb Haaland's face
Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland visits the Amache campsite to mark the Day of Remembrance for Japanese internment in Granada, Colo., on Feb. 19. Photo: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Sixteen tribal nations will receive $1.7 billion as part of Indian water rights settlements, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: Over the years, at least 34 tribes have turned to settlements to resolve conflicts with the federal government over water rights. Tuesday's announcement is aimed at funding infrastructure for Native Americans to store and transport water so they no longer have to suffer from lack of access.

Details: The funding will "help deliver long-promised water resources to Tribal communities ... and a solid foundation for future economic development for entire communities dependent on common water resources," the Department of Interior (DOI) said in a statement.

What they're saying: "Water is a sacred resource, and water rights are crucial to ensuring the health, safety and empowerment of Tribal communities," Haaland said in a statement.

  • "With this crucial funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Interior Department will be able to uphold our trust responsibilities and ensure that Tribal communities receive the water resources they have long been promised," she added.
  • "I am grateful that Tribes, some of whom have been waiting for this funding for decades, are finally getting the resources they are owed."

The big picture: The tribes and settlements that will receive funding this year include:

  • Aamodt Litigation Settlement (Pueblos of San Ildefonso, Nambe, Pojoaque and Tesuque).
  • Blackfeet Nation.
  • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
  • Crow Nation.
  • Gila River Indian Community.
  • Navajo-Utah Water Rights Settlement and Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
  • San Carlos Apache Nation.
  • Tohono O’odham Nation.
  • White Mountain Apache Tribe.
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