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U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo), Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland (Bay Mills Indian Community), and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton on Friday traveled to the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) community to commemorate a historic water rights agreement between the Department, CRIT and the state of Arizona.

The  agreement will – for the first time – give the tribes the ability to lease, exchange or store a portion of its Arizona Colorado River water entitlement. The community includes almost 300,000 acres of land, with the river serving as the focal point and lifeblood of the area.

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The Colorado River Indian Tribes Water Resiliency Act of 2022 – which paved the way for this agreement – is the product of many years of diligent negotiations among the tribes, the state, and non-Indian water users and reflects the federal government’s commitment to tribal self-determination and tribal sovereignty. 

The visit underscored the Department’s commitment to strengthening Indian Country with significant resources through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which provides $2.5 billion to implement the Indian Water Rights Settlement Completion Fund, which is delivering long-promised water resources to tribes, certainty to their non-Indian neighbors, and a solid foundation for future economic development for entire communities dependent on common water resources.

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