Dividing the Waters: Race, Federal Indian Policy and Access to Water

This webinar is presented free of charge.

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Days & Times

10 a.m. Pacific / 11 a.m. Mountain / 12 p.m. Central / 1 p.m. Eastern
Duration: 90 minutes

Course Location

Online

Course Fees

This webinar is presented free of charge.

$0

Online

November 19, 2020

Dividing the Waters is pleased to present a webinar that will consider the role of water in our racial history and the impact of federal Indian policy on Native American Tribes and their water resources.

Water has been a central battleground for race relations in U.S. history, from access to swimming places, to provision of clean drinking water. In the Western U.S., racial conflict may erupt in disputes over Native American water and fishing rights. Today, Native American Tribes in particular are acting to protect their paramount rights to water at a time when supplies are under stress from urbanization, watershed derogation and climate change. Federal and state judges are finding that they are the ultimate arbiters of water disputes whose roots trace back to the historical vagaries of federal Indian policy and this nation’s disregard of the tribes’ water needs.

Since colonial times federal Indian policy has been schizophrenic, at times treating tribes as sovereigns and negotiating with them on a government to government basis; at other times forcibly removing tribes from their historic lands to reservations; at still other times attempting to extinguish tribes by “allotting” tribal lands to individual tribal members and selling off surplus land; and ultimately by attempting to terminate tribal treaty rights and “assimilate” tribal members into the general population. Today federal Indian policy again recognizes that the tribes are sovereigns and fosters tribal self-government, but judicial precedent and state and federal administration still limit tribal rights.

In the midst of the destructive allotment period, the Supreme Court issued two seminal cases—United States v Winans and Winters v United States—holding that the tribal fishing and water rights survived statehood and trumped later-acquired property rights. Despite these decisions, for the next sixty years the federal government proceeded to build large irrigation projects throughout the West, oblivious to the possibility that one day the tribes might assert their paramount rights to water against the farmers, municipalities and others who relied on these reclamation projects for water.

Tuition

This webinar is presented free of charge. $0

What will I learn?

During this course, you will learn to:

  • Describe the historical context in which disputes over Native Americans right to water arise;
  • Apply the case precedents which will enable judges to resolve water disputes involving tribes in an informed and thoughtful manner.

Moderator:
Joseph J. Wiseman, Chief Judge of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, Chief Judge of the Tule River Tribe of California and long-standing member of Dividing the Waters’ network

Faculty:
Wallace Stevens Professor Bethany Berger, University of Connecticut School of Law
Associate Professor and Director Monte Mills, Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana

Register Now.

Water has been a central battleground for race relations in U.S. history, from access to swimming places, to provision of clean drinking water. In the Western U.S., racial conflict may erupt in disputes over Native American water and fishing rights. Today, Native American Tribes in particular are acting to protect their paramount rights to water at a time when supplies are under stress from urbanization, watershed derogation and climate change. Federal and state judges are finding that they are the ultimate arbiters of water disputes whose roots trace back to the historical vagaries of federal Indian policy and this nation’s disregard of the tribes’ water needs.

Since colonial times federal Indian policy has been schizophrenic, at times treating tribes as sovereigns and negotiating with them on a government to government basis; at other times forcibly removing tribes from their historic lands to reservations; at still other times attempting to extinguish tribes by “allotting” tribal lands to individual tribal members and selling off surplus land; and ultimately by attempting to terminate tribal treaty rights and “assimilate” tribal members into the general population. Today federal Indian policy again recognizes that the tribes are sovereigns and fosters tribal self-government, but judicial precedent and state and federal administration still limit tribal rights.

In the midst of the destructive allotment period, the Supreme Court issued two seminal cases—United States v Winans and Winters v United States—holding that the tribal fishing and water rights survived statehood and trumped later-acquired property rights. Despite these decisions, for the next sixty years the federal government proceeded to build large irrigation projects throughout the West, oblivious to the possibility that one day the tribes might assert their paramount rights to water against the farmers, municipalities and others who relied on these reclamation projects for water.

Register
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