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- Water is a sacred resource for indigenous tribes, especially Indians.
- That is why specific attention is paid to the issue of water rights and governments recognize the criticality of reviewing cases related to this problem.
- In this way, the concept of water rights is connected to a wide range of other rights – fishing, dam construction, environmental health – as well as responsibilities.
- Nevertheless, for this paper, only those rights related to water supply support will be reviewed.
- Still, it is critical to remember that the outcomes of legal and public negotiations depend upon the desire of parties involved and public opinion regarding the issue.
Description of the Case
- The issue of tribal water rights is associated with numerous legal and court cases.
- Still, the paper at hand aims at analyzing the case related to Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation and the State of Montana.
- The rationale for choosing this case for assessment is not only its connection to tribal water rights but also the fact that it is the community that plays a major role in the solution of legal cases (Cosens 9).
- This case dates back to 1997 when Chippewa Cree Tribe and the Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission requested the Montana State Legislature to review the details of water support and secure the right of the Reservation to clear water supply as well as provide domestic water to all people living within the territory of the Reservation.
- In this way, the case is related to natural rights – the right to control water supply and have adequate access to clear and domestic water.
- There were three parties involved – Chippewa Cree Tribe, the Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission, and the Montana State Legislature.
- Nevertheless, the case became popular so that nowadays President Administration recognizes this case and believes in its public support (U. S. Department of the Interior).
Solution of the Issue
- This case resulted in reaching a public agreement related to the allocation of funds necessary for developing quality discharge of water supply as well as implementing a program for water quality monitoring in the Reservation and across the states.
- The State of Montana supported the claim of the Tribe, thus guaranteeing their further access to domestic and clear water by constructing the system of wells across the Reservation.
Connection of the Issue to Broader Challenge of Water Rights
- This case is related to water rights within a broader context.
- In particular, it is connected to the fundamental case – the 1908 Winters v. the United States – concluding that all tribes have the right to adequate access to water, and this right should be guaranteed by federal and state laws (Church et al. 61).
- Still, there is a challenge because Indian tribes suffer from the inadequate support of the state, thus being significantly discriminated against (Wilkins and Stark 49).
Connection of the Issue to the Theory of Multiculturalism
- This case is as well connected to the theory of multiculturalism.
- For instance, it supports the assumption that effective dialog between minorities and the government entails positive changes in society, thus eliminating the risks of discrimination and injustice.
- Also, it is the representation of a liberal approach to treating minorities – supporting them and contributing to their decent living (Crowder 58).
- Finally, it supports the belief that in case of maltreatment or ignoring minorities’ rights, tribes have the right to initiate the public debate, which was proven by this and other related cases (Crowder 66).
- Tribal water rights are a matter of concern that affects the future of the state.
- Still, to recognize them, public support is critical, as insufficient support results in lengthy debates and further discrimination of the minorities.
- More than that, only those cases related to officially recognized tribes are more likely to go public than minorities that do not comply with the legal criteria for recognition.
Tribal Water Rights: Annotated Bibliography
Church, Jerilyn, et al. “Tribal Water Rights: Exploring Dam Construction in Indian Country.” The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, vol. 43, no. 1, 2015, 60-63.
Dam construction is the most common issue when it comes to settling tribal water rights cases. Still, the authors of the scholarly article focus not only on this problem but also on the process of granting water rights to tribes. They begin with the establishment of the water rights system (the 1908 Winters v. United States case) and review its influence on the formation of the legal support in this sphere. This article is helpful because of the focus on the development of the water rights policy and legal frameworks. In this way, it is necessary for understanding the peculiarities of the current legal framework and how it evolved.
Cosens, Barbara A. “Legitimacy, Adaptation, and Resilience in Ecosystem Management.” Ecology & Society, vol. 18, no. 1, 2013, 3-11.
Even though the author focuses on the resilience and management of ecosystems, significant attention is paid to governmental changes and legislation issues. Water rights settlements are as well investigated through the lens of negotiations and involvement of different sides in the decision-making process and usage of water. Therefore, this scholarly article is a valuable source of information because it centers on adaptive governance measures in water-related issues and administrative frameworks.
Crowder, George. Theories of Multiculturalism: An Introduction. Polity Press, 2013.
Multiculturalism is one of the most challenging and controversial ideas in the current-day political theory. Nevertheless, it can help understand relations between different ethnicities and reach harmony in society. Based on these statements, the author reviews and assesses different theories related to multiculturalism. Therefore, its value comes down to the opportunity to estimate the issue of water rights from the perspective of multiculturalism and make an attempt to determine the role of belonging to a minority on the outcome of a legal issue.
U. S. Department of the Interior. “Indian Water Rights.” U.S. Department of the Interior. 2012, Web.
This document is a testimony of the U.S. Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary before the United States Senate. It recognizes the significance of guaranteeing tribal water rights and promoting negotiation in these spheres of social and legal relations. In particular, it centers on the criticality of implementing water rights settlements and supporting them. In this way, this testimony is a valuable source because it will help estimate the influence of water rights cases on tribes as well as review the influence of involved sides on legal outcomes.
Wilkins, David E., and Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark. American Indian Politics and the American Political System. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011.
It is believed that American Indian politics have a direct influence on the development of the American political system. That is why the author investigates the development of indigenous governments and their connection with the evolution of states and federal policies. The focus is made on most issues related to tribal sovereignty, and the challenge of tribal water rights is not an exception. Therefore, this source is helpful because of the insight in relations between tribal and national governments and the way they exercise all the rights they fought for, including water rights.