Published May 20, 2016
WINDOW ROCK – NAVAJO NATION – In the spirit of “Two Nations, One Voice” representatives of the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe met for two days, on May 17 and 18, to discuss a joint process in addressing the Little Colorado River basin tribal water rights.
The “Two Nations, One Voice” approach arose after the Navajo Nation President and the HopiTribal Chairman met in Phoenix with Arizona Governor Ducey, Arizona Senators McCain and Flake, Arizona Department of Water Resources, and other water user representatives on March 16.
This is the fourth meeting between Hopi and Navajo representatives to continue discussions on a joint process in addressing water management issues to the benefit of both nations. Team members are developing guiding principles, and over the recent two-day meeting discussed a shared approach to ground water and surface water resources.
“We are making good progress,” said Hopi Tribe’s Vice Chairman, Alfred Lomahquahu, Jr., who was in attendance. “It is important that we find common ground on issues related to the two tribes’ water rights,” he also stated.
President Russell Begaye thanked the team members for their coordination on communication. “We need to address this issue within this current administration. We currently have congressional support and need to capture this opportunity now and not delay. This can only be done if we continue to work together as Two Nations, One Voice,” stated President Begaye.
Meanwhile, water rights to the Little Colorado River and its sources – including tribal water rights – are the subject of the long-running Little Colorado River Water Rights Adjudication. The case was filed in Apache County Superior Court in 1978 and involves nearly 2,000 claimants. Both tribes claim senior priority water rights.