Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez, fourth from left, and Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R), third from left, discuss issues affecting Navajo citizens in Utah on September 5, 2017. Photo: Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President
National | Politics

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs adds tribal water rights hearing to schedule





Two more tribal water rights settlements are on the radar in the 115th Congress.

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will meet next month to take up two settlement bills. One benefits the Navajo Nation while the other affects the Hualapai Tribe.

S.664, the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act, ratifies a settlement for the Navajo Nation and the state of Utah. The deal would quantify the tribe's rights to the portion of the San Juan River that runs through the state.

"The settlement represents a win-win for the Navajo Nation and the state of Utah," Navajo President Russell Begaye said in March when the bill was introduced.

If enacted into law as written, S.664 would require the federal government to contribute $198.3 million toward water infrastructure projects on the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation. The state would contribute $8 million.

“Water infrastructure is a necessary part of building our economy and our communities and that’s what this bill would provide for our people,” said Davis Filfred, who represents Navajo communities in Utah as a delegate to the Navajo Nation Council.

S.1770, the Hualapai Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act, ratifies a settlement for the Hualapai Tribe and the state of Arizona. The bill quantifies the tribe's rights to the Colorado River.

“The Hualapai Tribe is proud to be the leader in economic development in northwest Arizona, and we know the prosperity of our people benefits so many others,” Chairman Damon R. Clarke said when the bill was introduced in September.

The hearing on S.664 and S.1770 takes place December 6 in Room 648 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. A witness list hasn't been posted online.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice:
Legislative Hearing to Receive Testimony on S. 664 & S. 1770 (December 6, 2017)