Tribal Water Settlement Testimony to be Heard by Senator Committee on Indian Affairs on Wednesday

Published December 6. 2017

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, December 6 at 2:30 PM EST, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold a business meeting to consider:

·        S. 1870, the Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act.

The SURVIVE Act amends the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to authorize a 5 percent Tribal set-aside for victim assistance programs. Last Congress, the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services testified that Native women experience the highest rates of domestic violence and sexual assault in the nation and Native youth experience serious violent crimes or simple assault at rates higher than their non-Native peers. If enacted, this bill would provide Tribes with more equitable access to federal victim assistance supports.

The business meeting will be immediately followed by a committee legislative hearing to receive testimony on the following bills:

·        S. 664, the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act of 2017; and

·        S. 1770, the Hualapai Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2017.

 The legislation would authorize settlements to the claims being pursued by the Navajo Nation and Hualapai Nation, which are based on years of extensive negotiations between many parties, including Tribal, local, state and federal parties. Since 1978, the federal government has entered into 36 water rights settlements with 40 individual Tribes. Indian water settlements are critically important – not only to fulfilling the United States’ fiduciary obligations to Tribes, but also for the long-term economic vitality of surrounding communities. 
 
The committee will hear testimony from several witnesses, including from the Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, and the Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Alan Mikkelsen. Udall will press the administration on its priorities when it comes to Indian water settlements and seek clarity on any potential impacts to New Mexico.
 
DETAILS:

WHAT:          A committee business meeting, followed by a legislative hearing.

WHEN:         2:30 PM EST, Wednesday, December 6, 2017

WHERE:       628 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Live video and written witness testimony will be provided here.

WITNESSES:

Mr. Alan Mikkelsen

Deputy Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of the Interior, Washington, DC

The Honorable Russell Begaye

President, Navajo Nation, Window Rock, Arizona

The Honorable Damon Clarke

Chairman, Hualapai Nation, Peach Springs, Arizona

 The Honorable Spencer J. Cox

Lieutenant Governor, State of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

Mr. Thomas Buschatzke

Director, Arizona Department of Water Resources, Phoenix, Arizona

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