Gila River Tribe plans for a healthier future
The Gila River Indian Community of Arizona believes a water rights settlement will return the tribe to a healthier way of life.

Long before the arrival of Europeans, the tribe cultivated crops using a complex system of irrigation canals. The agricultural economy was killed when the federal government began placing dams on the Gila and Salt rivers.

As a result, tribal members became dependent on alien foods like flour, lard, canned meat and processed foods. Diabetes and obesity are now rampant on the reservation.

“People get sick with diabetes, they’re obese, and there are heart attacks and stress because we eat an American diet now," Ed Mendoza, a co-founder of the reservation's Vah-Ki Cooperative Garden, told The New York Times.

But with an allocation of 653,500 acre-feet of water a year, the tribe hopes to restore its agricultural economy by farming up to 40 percent of the reservation.

Get the Story:
Indians’ Water Rights Give Hope for Better Health (The New York Times 8/30)

Water Rights Settlement Bill:

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Senate passes Arizona tribal water rights deal (10/12)