Supreme Court hears arguments in Navajo Nation's Colorado River water lawsuit

By Lauren Gilger
Alex Hager/KUNC
Published: Tuesday, March 21, 2023 - 8:51am
Updated: Tuesday, March 21, 2023 - 11:40am

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View of the Colorado River from the Historic Navajo Bridge
Getty Images
View of the Colorado River from the Historic Navajo Bridge near Marble Canyon, Arizona.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on the Navajo Nation’s right to file a lawsuit over access to water from the Colorado River.

Tribes hold some of the largest and oldest rights to water from the Colorado River. Shay Dvoretsky, a lawyer for the Navajo Nation, says the tribe is owed federal help to assess and meet its water needs.

“The United States thinks that it alone decides whether it has made good on its promises,” Dvoretsky said. “But that's not how promises work. A promise is a solemn duty, and the United States' duty is to see that the Nation has the water it needs and the United States promised.”

This case, Arizona v. Navajo Nation, arrives at the Supreme Court after 20 years of negotiations and litigation. More than two decades of drought are shrinking the river, which supplies 40 million people across the Southwest. Demand on those resources remains steady.

For more on what happened before the high court, The Show spoke with Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson, Supreme Court reporter with Bloomberg News.

Feds and states want Supreme Court to end Navajo fight for Colorado River water

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