EAGLE POINT, AZ – Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland joined members of the Hualapai Tribe for a celebration of the tribe’s historic $312 million water rights settlement.
The Hualapai Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2022, the first Indian water rights settlement enacted during the Biden-Harris administration, settled the tribe’s water rights claims in Arizona and was the result of over a decade of negotiations between the federal government, tribal leaders, State of Arizona, and other parties. The law approved a settlement agreement that will provide much-needed water to the tribe and established a $312 million trust fund for the tribe to develop water infrastructure on its reservation. The settlement’s provisions will help provide certainty to the tribe and surrounding communities regarding access to water resources, enable tribal economic growth, and promote tribal sovereignty and self-sufficiency.
“Across the western United States, tribes are navigating an uncertain future as the climate crisis worsens, the arid West grows drier, and precious water resources become scarcer,” said Deputy Secretary Beaudreau. “The Biden-Harris administration is committed to using every tool at our disposal to deliver on our promises to Indigenous communities. Today we celebrate a settlement that was achieved by true collaboration – with Department of the Interior officials, tribal representatives, stakeholders and other water users – to finally deliver water to the Hualapai Tribe and its future generations.”
“Water rights have been, and continue to be, a priority for the Biden-Harris administration,” said Assistant Secretary Newland. “This is one of the many areas in which we are working to uphold the federal government’s trust responsibility to tribes. This investment in and commitment to Indian Country, while long overdue, is unprecedented. It has led to real change on the ground in many tribal communities, including right here at Hualapai.”
To date, the Biden-Harris administration has allocated more than $3.1 billion to fund Indian water rights settlements, more than any other administration in history. This includes more than $2 billion through the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to implement the Indian Water Rights Settlement Completion Fund, which is helping deliver long-promised water resources to tribes, certainty to surrounding communities, and a solid foundation for future economic development for entire communities dependent on common water resources.
Indian water rights settlements help ensure that tribal nations have safe, reliable water supplies; improve environmental and health concerns on reservations; and enable economic growth. These settlements have the potential to end decades of controversy and contention among tribal nations and neighboring communities, and promote cooperation in the management of water resources. Indian water rights settlements also promote community and economic development for regions surrounding tribal communities, as conflicts are resolved and vital infrastructure is developed.
At the Interior Department, the Secretary’s Indian Water Rights Office manages, negotiates and oversees implementation of Indian water rights claims. This settlement included partners from across the agency, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs.