Tribal collaboration and advocacy pave the way for equitable resource allocation and cultural preservation
“The Colorado River is not only a vital water source, but it also holds immense cultural and historical significance for the tribes within the Ten Tribes Partnership,” says SRP Board Director Keith Woods. “Through collaboration and shared knowledge, these tribes are paving the way for sustainable water management, ensuring the preservation of their heritage and the well-being of future generations.”
The Colorado River, sustaining millions of lives across the southwestern United States, has long been a subject of contention among various stakeholders. In 1992, the Ten Tribes Partnership emerged as a pivotal organization, representing ten federally recognized tribes with reserved water rights in the Colorado River Basin.
Comprising a diverse group of tribes, including the Ute Indian Tribe, Navajo Nation, and Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, among others, the Partnership aims to enhance tribal influence and engagement in the management of the Colorado River. By working collaboratively, the tribes seek to develop and protect their water resources while addressing complex technical, legal, economic, and practical issues associated with the river’s operation.
Recognizing the importance of their collective voice, the Partnership aligned itself with the Colorado River Water Users Association (CRWUA) in 1996. This strategic move allowed the tribes to actively participate in negotiations, ensuring their rights and perspectives were acknowledged. Joining forces with CRWUA expanded their network of stakeholders, fostering increased collaboration and cooperation.
In 2018, the Partnership embarked on a groundbreaking Tribal Water Study in collaboration with the Bureau of Reclamation. This study provided crucial insights into each tribe’s water rights, usage, future demands, and the potential impacts of tribal water development. The findings showcased the remarkable significance of the Partnership tribes, collectively holding water rights equivalent to 20% of the mainstream flow of the Colorado River.
Armed with this knowledge, the Partnership has been able to effectively advocate for their water rights and ensure sustainable management practices. Through ongoing engagement with CRWUA and other relevant organizations, they continue to protect their cultural heritage, drive economic development, and safeguard the long-term viability of the Colorado River Basin’s water resources.
“The Ten Tribes Partnership stands as an influential entity within the Colorado River Basin, championing tribal sovereignty and collaborative approaches,” affirms Keith Woods. “Their efforts serve as a testament to the power of unity and the enduring commitment to the preservation of their ancestral lands and traditions.”
As the Partnership remains dedicated to their advocacy role, they work towards ensuring that the voices of the member tribes are respected in all matters concerning the Colorado River. With their rich cultural heritage and deep connection to the land, the tribes of the Ten Tribes Partnership are poised to shape policies, foster collaboration, and leave a lasting legacy of sustainable management for future generations.
In conclusion, the Ten Tribes Partnership exemplifies the strength of collaboration and tribal sovereignty. United in their mission, these tribes are making significant strides in advocating for their water rights and influencing the management of the Colorado River. Through their efforts, they are paving the way for a prosperous and sustainable future for the Colorado River Basin, honoring their heritage and preserving this precious resource for generations to come.