Last week, Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren joined Native News Online publisher Levi Rickert on Native Bidaské.

The two discussed the Supreme Court’s issuing of a 5-4 ruling against the Navajo Nation in its attempts to secure water rights to the Colorado River. The case, Navajo Nation v. Arizona rested on the merits of a 150-year-old promise from the federal government to fulfill the water needs of Native American reservations. 

“One of the reasons why the case was filed was that we have treaty responsibilities within the federal government,” Nygren told Rickert. “It was trying to keep our federal partners accountable and make sure that they continue to help us and assist us in quantifying our water rights.” 

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

The Navajo Nation brought the suit against the state of Arizona after their water rights came into question as the Tribe’s primary water source — the Colorado River — has dwindled by 20% over the past two decades from drought conditions in the region. The suit alleged a breach of trust and sought to compel the federal government to secure water for Navajo Nation by assessing the Tribe’s water needs, developing a plan to secure the needed water, and potentially building pipelines, pumps, wells, or other water infrastructure.

“There’s 30 to 40 percent of Navajo people without running water right now. People are still hauling water and filling up buckets of water from border towns,” Nygren said. “That’s what they are surviving on.”

Nygren also talked about the next steps of action for the Navajo Nation. 

“The next steps are to sit down with the President of the United States and try to work out a congressional delegation to see if we can get this through Congress,” Nygren said. “There’s a prime opportunity to have all of Indian Country get united behind the Navajo nation and continue to stand on what’s right.” 

“If we are going to go back to the time of a strong Navajo Nation, a strong Indian Country, we have to make sure that we have control of the basic things that make life sustainable and water is one of them,” said Nygren. 

Watch the full episode on our YouTube channel, or view the embedded video below. 



More Stories Like This

Native News Weekly (September 24, 2023): D.C. Briefs
Assemblyman Ramos Honored with Award for Long Service to California Native American Commission
Navajo Nation Council Members Meet with US Treasurer Malerba
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe Chairman Marshall Pierite Launches Bid to Become NCAI President
"The Road to Healing" Albuquerque Stop Postponed Due to Threat of Federal Government Shutdown

Native News is free to read.

We hope you enjoyed the story you've just read. For the past dozen years, we’ve covered the most important news stories that are usually overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the rise of the American Indian Movement (AIM), to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous People (MMIP) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps.  Most readers donate between $10 and $25 to help us cover the costs of salaries, travel and maintaining our digital platforms. If you’re in a position to do so, we ask you to consider making a recurring donation of $12 per month to join the Founder's Circle. All donations help us remain a force for change in Indian Country and tell the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected].