Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signed a historic agreement Friday at the Department of the Interior guaranteeing the water rights of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes in Nevada to ensure water supplies and facilities for their Duck Valley Reservation. The agreement signed by Jewell will make $60 million dollars available to develop water resources and irrigation projects for the Shoshone-Paiutes.
Before signing the agreement, Secretary Jewell addressed attendees which included Shoshone-Paiute Chairman Lindsey Manning, other members of the tribal business council, and other state and federal officials.
“We are proud that today’s agreement helps provide the Shoshone-Paiute with the water supplies and facilities they need in the Duck Valley Reservation,” Jewell said.
“This agreement is the latest step in fulfilling the Administration’s commitment to resolving water rights in a manner that benefits Indian tribes and provides certainty to water users. Rehabilitation of the irrigation system on this rural reservation is particularly important to the livelihood of tribal members who depend on the water for agriculture and livestock pasture and healthy habitat.”
Prior to Jewell’s remarks, Tribal Chairman Lindsey Manning gave a traditional blessing and then spoke to the attendees.
“Water is life. The value of clean water cannot be overestimated. The homeland of the Shoshone and Paiute is in the arid West, where the adjudication of water rights is increasingly critical as the overall population rises, and economic uses increase, competing with the natural demand," said Manning.
"We are pleased that the United States has honored the water rights of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley. I personally am honored to sign on behalf of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation because I have witnessed the efforts of many people, from many jurisdictions, in many capacities, over many years to reach this point of a negotiated water rights settlement agreement.”
After the signing ceremony, both Secretary Jewell and Chairman Manning offered their thoughts to ICTMN.
This is the last of the approved agreements, the Shoshone-Paiute Duck Valley Reservation can now move forward on upgrading its water systems knowing that for it’s agricultural, ranching businesses and for ecological purposes – it will have this water in perpetuity.
Jewell also said that because the water rights were also now more defined for the Shoshone-Paiute, their position in terms of negotiation would be much more harmonious.
“I will say that this is the sixth water rights settlement that we have signed on behalf of the Obama administration, but we are certainly not done, there is still a lot of work underway in different parts of Indian country,” Jewell said.
“Years ago we were first offered a settlement which we were insulted by initially because we were offered a pittance. We still have a few more things to accomplish and a few more t’s to be crossed and i’s to be dotted – but It feels good to be here 25 years since we began,” Manning said.
In a release, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn also delivered comments about the agreement. “Reaching an agreement of this historic magnitude can only be accomplished through the cooperation of the tribes, the state, and upstream water users,” said Washburn. “I applaud the tribe’s commitment and look forward to the benefits it will deliver to the Duck Valley Reservation.”
According to the DOI release, In addition to the Shoshone-Paiute agreement signed today, the other five agreements executed since 2009 include the following:
—On July 30, 2013, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and White Mountain Apache Chairman Ronnie Lupe signed the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Quantification provisions of the 2010 Claims Resolution Act that settled the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s claims to both the Gila and the Little Colorado Rivers in Arizona.
—On March 14, 2013, Salazar executed the Aamodt Water Rights Settlement resolving water rights to the Rio Pojoaque Basin north of Santa Fe, New Mexico which is the homeland of the Tesuque, Nambe, Pojoaque and San Ildefonso Pueblos.
—On July 11, 2012, Salazar executed three water contracts as part of implementation of the Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement provisions of the 2010 Claims Resolution Act. The settlement included the Taos Pueblo, the State of New Mexico, the Town Of Taos, various non-Indian water users and the United States.
—On April 27, 2012, Salazar executed the Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement in a signing ceremony at the Department of the Interior with Crow Chairman Cedric Black Eagle and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. The ceremony gave final federal approval to provisions of the 2010 Claims Resolution Act settling all of the Crow Tribe’s claims to water in the State of Montana.
—On December 17, 2010, former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley signed the historic San Juan Navajo Water Rights agreement at the Colorado River Water Users Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.